A Harford County Circuit Court judge on Friday granted the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s request for an injunction to halt tree clearing at the proposed Abingdon Woods development. .
The injunction will prevent any trees from being cut while the Chesapeake Bay Foundation pursues its lawsuit challenging the project’s forest conservation plan.
The decision was made after the developers — Harford Investors LLP and BTC III 1-95 Logistics Center LLC— agreed to not challenge the injunction, according to a news release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The foundation does not expect a decision to be made in the case for at least a couple of months. The nonprofit organization maintains that the project’s forest conservation plan “doesn’t meet the requirements of state or county law to preserve contiguous forest and large specimen trees,” according to a news release.
Josh Kurtz, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Maryland executive director, said in a statement: “This injunction ensures Abingdon Woods will still have trees as we work to obtain a court ruling on whether the proposed warehouse project’s development plans met the requirements of state law. Forested land is essential to the fight against climate change and the effort to restore Chesapeake Bay …
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“We will continue to pursue all avenues to protect our forests and take actions against those that attempt to evade existing forest protections.”
The circuit court granted a temporary restraining order earlier this month that temporarily halted the Abingdon Woods tree clearing.
Harford County Climate Action, which has fought the Abingdon Woods development, applauded the latest ruling.
“We ... credit the support we’ve received from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Legal Alliance, and other attorneys and university law clinics that have done so much,” Tracey Waite, the group’s president, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to the next step: the hearing on the project’s defective Forest Conservation Plan. Ultimately, we are pursuing restoration and preservation of this 326-acre forest.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation filed suit challenging the forest conservation plan in Harford County Circuit Court in January 2020. The case was dismissed the following August when a judge ruled the foundation could not challenge the conservation plan until the development’s site plan was finalized.
However, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in August that a forest conservation plan may be appealed before final approval because it is a “‘final decision’ for appeal purposes,” according to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991.
The appeals court ruling will allow the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to have its challenge of the forest conservation plan heard in court.