For years we labored under the delusion that the 1st amendment mattered. Along comes Roy Stanley’s lawsuit and shatters that illusion. It’s really silly to admit that we whole-heartedly believed that American citizens were allowed to assemble and petition the government. In fact, our urbanite education kinda instructed us that it was our duty to do so. Some nonsense about it strengthening our democracy and making sure the most powerful voices didn’t always win out. It makes us blush because we now realize that we have been stuck in our post adolescent idealistic phase for a couple of decades.
Perhaps we should thank Mr. Stanley for waking us up and making us face the harsh realities of the world. We get that Mr. Stanley wants to move on with his development. And while we don’t agree with his premises about C. Paul Smith’s FACT letter, nor do we think he will win, we get why he would sue the county government. What we cannot imbibe, and what has shattered our faith in American democracy, is that fact that he decided to add members of RALE to his lawsuit.
For those of you not familiar with RALE (Residents Against Landsdown Expansion), please visit their website. In short, they are a group of concerned citizens in Monrovia. They banded together because they were concerned about the amount of development and lack of improvements that were being proposed in their neighborhood. They have faithfully attended every meeting, spoke their minds (especially Steve McKay) and called foul when they believed certain political officials were not only listening to developers, but were in cahoots with them.
We here at the Yokel were lucky enough to get a copy of said lawsuit. Count III is the only part that we see that includes RALE, though we are still not exactly sure why. See for yourself:
COUNT III DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (all Defendants)
149. Plaintiff adopts by reference the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 148 of this Complaint with the same effect as if herein fully set forth. 150. This is an action for declaratory judgment pursuant to § 3-409 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, for the purpose of terminating uncertainty or controversy between parties with antagonistic claims that will likely give rise to imminent or inevitable litigation. 151. There exists an actual controversy of a justiciable issue between the parties involving the rights and liabilities of the parties. The County Council is determined to force the Plaintiffs to present their rezoning application anew to the Planning Commission and then to the County Council, and the Plaintiffs maintain that the County Council has violated the Court’s March 10, 2015 Order, violated Maryland’s impermissible change of mind rule, and denied the due process to the Plaintiffs. 152. The actual controversy between the parties is within the jurisdiction of the Court. 37 153. The antagonistic claims between the parties indicate imminent and inevitable litigation. 154. A declaratory judgment by this Court will terminate the actual controversy between the parties. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs, 75-80 Properties, L.L.C. and Payne Investments, LLC, respectfully request that the Court enter an Order: (a) Declaring that the purpose of the Court’s Order of March 10, 2015 was to direct the County Council of Frederick County to conduct further proceedings, including testimony, to resolve the issues raised in the Court’s March 10, 2015 Order, i.e., to determine what significance, if any, the FACT Letter played in the former BOCC’s approval of the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center; (b) Declaring that the statements of Councilmen Shreve and Delauter at the June 9, 2015 public meeting of the County Council that the FACT Letter did not have any impact on their decisions to vote to approve the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center, together with former Commissioner Young’s Affidavit submitted to the administrative record to the effect that the FACT Letter was not a determinative factor in Commissioner Young’s decision to vote to approve the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center, effectively resolves the question as to the significance of the FACT Letter; (c) Declaring that the testimony and Affidavit of the decision-makers, Councilmen Shreve and Delauter and former Commissioner Young, establishes that the FACT Letter was not significant in that the FACT Letter did not have any effect on the votes of a majority of the 38 former Commissioners to approve the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application for the Monrovia Town Center; (d) Declaring that since the FACT Letter did not exist when the Frederick County Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of the Plaintiffs’ PUD rezoning application, the County Council violated Maryland’s impermissible change of mind rule by remanding this matter back to the Planning Commission with instructions to the Planning Commission to review the Plaintiffs rezoning application again from the beginning; (e) Declaring that County Council has taken a patently unreasonable amount of time in addressing the Court’s March 10, 2015 Order, that the County Council does not have a valid reason for the unreasonable delay, and that the delay violates the Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment rights against deprivation of property without due process of law; and (f) Granting such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.
Are we to discern that they want the court to get rid of all antagonist influences? If others have problems with this development, are they not allowed to voice those concerns? And this FACT letter…how can anyone take Young, Shreve and Delauter’s word on this? We hope, like in the case concerning Trout Run, that our fellow citizens ,who are guilty of nothing but voicing their concerns, are stricken from this suit. Can you imagine the precedence it would set if all developers had to do was to reach into their deep pockets to silence the dissenters with litigation?
Speaking of litigation if you would like to help RALE out go to their website and click donate.