High Court Upholds Local Zoning Authority in Harford Takings Case

Maryland’s highest court ruled Friday that Harford County will not have to pay $45.4 million to a plaintiff who sought to develop a rubble landfill thirty years ago near Havre de Grace.

judge-gavel-1461291738X4gThe Maryland Court of Appeals last week upheld the lower court’s reversal of the award to landowner Maryland Reclamation Associates (MRA) handed down by Harford County Circuit Court in 2018.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals last year ruled for Harford County in a longstanding dispute with MRA that could have set a new precedent on property takings through inverse condemnation.

“This case goes back to when I was first elected to the Harford County Council and this final decision by Maryland’s highest court affirms Harford County’s actions and our appeal of the $45.4 million judgment, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said. “It’s a victory for environmental justice and local government’s ability to adopt responsible development regulations.”

MRA sought to establish a rubble landfill outside of Havre de Grace in the early 1990s. However, the County denied multiple applications from MRA for zoning variances and MRA initiated litigation.

In 2010, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the County was lawfully exercising its zoning authority in denying the variances. In response, MRA sued the County again arguing that the County’s actions had devalued its property and sought damages.

Given the importance of the decision to both takings claims and local zoning authority, MACo, Montgomery County, and a number of other local governments supported Harford County’s motion through an amicus brief.

Useful Links

Harford County Press Release: Harford County Wins Rubble Landfill Case in Maryland’s Highest Court; Reversal of $45 Million Judgement Upheld

Maryland Reclamation Associates, Inc. v. Harford County, Maryland, No. 52, September
Term, 2019, Opinion by Booth, J.