In the latest turn of events in the Four Season's saga, last month the highest court in Maryland remanded the Wetland's Permit request back to the State Board of Public Works which denied the permit back in 2007. K. Hovnanian, the Four Season's Developer, sought a judicial review from the County when the permit was denied in 2007 and retired Circuit Court Judge Sause also reversed the decision and remanded it back to the Board of Public Works which prompted the appeal that went before Maryland's Court of Special Appeals.
Over the past 10+ years, K. Hovnanian has cleared many hurdles such as this. All told, they have been named in over 25 court cases, many of which have been redundant and easily won. These court battles have been costly, to both the County and to K. Hovnanian, and have slowed an already arduous process down tremendously.
Below is a timeline outlining this project followed by the many benefits Four Season will bring to Queen Anne's County.
FOUR SEASONS OF KENT ISLAND
(Aug 1997 - April 1998) Three properties are placed under contract.
(October 20, 1998) County adopts Stevensville Community Plan essentially zoning the entire property for more than 2,300 dwellings.
(June 30, 1999) Application submitted for Concept/Sketch Plan approval
(April 13, 2000) Planning Commission reviews Concept/Sketch
(April 26, 2000) Planning Commission approves Concept/Sketch Plan
(June 27, 2000)County Commissioners grant Master Water Sewer Plan Amendment
(July 13, 2000) Planning Commission recommends growth allocation for the project
(July 25, 2000) County Commissioners grant conceptual approval of growth allocation
(Aug 7, 2000 - Nov 2002) K. Hovnanian purchases property.
(September 12, 2000) Critical Area Commission holds Growth Allocation public hearing
(December 6, 2000) Critical Area Commission approves growth allocation
(February 27, 2001) County Commissioners hold Growth Allocation public hearing
(April 17, 2001) County Commissioners approve resolution No. 13-01, with conditions
(June 12, 2001) Planning Commission approves amended Concept/Sketch Plan and recommends growth allocation
(July 11, 2001) Critical Area Commission confirms its previous approval
(August 20, 2001)County Commissioners adopt Ordinance 01-01 & 01-01A approving growth allocation
(Sep. 2001-Apr 2002)DRRA negotiated with County staff
(May 20, 2002) Proposed DRRA formally submitted to County Commissioners
(July 11, 2002) Planning Commission finds DRRA consistent with Comprehensive Plan
(August 6, 2002) County Commissioners hold DRRA public hearing
(September 17, 2002) DRRA signed by County Commissioners
(September 1, 2004) Critical Area Commission Approves Buffer Management Plan
(December 16, 2004) Planning Commission grants preliminary subdivision approval
(December 8, 2005) Planning Commission grants FINAL APPROVAL for Phase 1, conditioned upon obtaining a tidal wetlands license from the Board of Public Works
(June 12, 2006) Favorable Report and Recommendation submitted by the Maryland Department of Environment for our Tidal Wetlands Case No. 00-WL-0706.
(May 9, 2007) Initial Board of Public Works Hearing
(May 17, 2007) Field visit on Four Seasons property by the Governor,Comptroller, and Treasurer as well as Secretary of MDE and related staff.
(May 23, 2007) Second Board of Public Works Hearing - applications for a tidal wetlands license is denied by a 2-1 vote.
(June 2007) K. Hovnanian appeals the license denial.
(December 2007) The license denial case Civil No 12481 was briefed and arguedbefore the Circuit Court of Queen Anne's County.
(January 11, 2011) The Circuit Court of Queen Anne's County reversed and remanded the Maryland Board of Public Works.
(February 2011)Both the State and Opponents file an appeal and the matter ispending at the Court of Special Appeals
(April 2012) Court of Appeals rules in favor of K. Hovnanian and remands the case back to the BPW
BENEFITS QA COUNTY WILL REAP FROM THIS PROJECT
- During construction the project supports over 9,200 full-time and part-time jobs in Queen Anne's County.
- Tax benefits and Fiscal Impacts to the State of Maryland during construction total $35.5 million
- 950 new permanent, full-time jobs in Queen Anne's County.
- 1,876 permanent jobs statewide.
- $90 million in annual business sales countywide!
- Queen Anne's County will experience ongoing benefits estimated at $5.9 million annually, the majority from property taxes.
- State of Maryland is expected to receive $4.1 million annually in tax revenue as a result of the project.
- $8 million contribution for sewer plant expansion and upgrade to meet new standards.
- Upgrade water treatment plant.
- Construct two new wells and a 500,000-gallon, elevated water storage tank.
- Make substantial off-site road improvements - at no cost to County. $1 MILLION payment to the County within 30 days of "unappealable" Phase 1 final site plan approval
The Four Seasons project would be worth more than 135 million dollars to our county beyond the cost of services in the next 20 years! Check out the Sage Policy Group, Inc April 2011 Economic Analysis by clicking here!
- 43% of site remains open/green space.
- Nearly five miles of buffers to protect the Chesapeake Bay including 300' buffers along Macum and Cox Creeks.
- Post-development quality of water leaving the Four Seasons property will be far better than pre-development quality in its current agricultural use.
- Approved by MD Critical Area Commission, consistent with QA County's growth plans, and located in approved Priority Funding Area.
- Sewer treatment plant was improved and expanded to include "Enhanced Nutrient Removal" capabilities in accordance with the goals of the Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction initiatives. The Four Seasons entered into a contract with the County to pay a substantial portion of the cost of improvement and expansion.
This brings to mind a write up in the Capital back in 2003 that stated, "The county has spent $30,000 on this and related cases in this fiscal year, and set aside $200,000 for attorneys' fees in the next. But if the commissionerscan't prevail with Judge Sause, they may be better off making sure Hovnanian abides by the terms of itsagreement, which calls for paying up to $20 million for improvements to county roads and services. That would be more responsible than pouring taxpayers' money into long-shot legal challenges." (It should be noted that ultimately as part of the Settlement Agreement with K. Hovnanian, the County had to pay $350K to them for their attorney costs.)