Cumberland Times-News

June 20, 2013

Garrett County judge overturns mini-marina decisions

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— OAKLAND — Garrett County Circuit Court Judge Jim Sherbin has ruled that a zoning amendment made by the county commission regarding Lakeside Commercial Property, LLC’s mini-marina was defective and of no legal effect. Sherbin also ordered that the decision of the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals be reversed.

On June 5, 2012, the county commissioners voted to make amendments to the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning ordinance to allow Bill Meagher, owner of Lakeside Creamery, to have a marina that doesn’t offer the services associated with it. The amendments to the ordinance contained a notation that the minimum land area remain the same as currently specified at 10,000 square feet, according to a hearing memorandum provided by Greg Skidmore of Skidmore, Alderson and Duncan of Oakland, who is representing local marinas.

Following a previous hearing regarding the mini-marina, the commissioners learned that there was ambiguous language in the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning ordinance relating to the findings of fact. The commissioners followed the Department of Planning and Land Development recommendation to rectify the conflict so that it was consistent with Land Use Article 66B. The commissioners approved the amendment to the ordinance during a January meeting. More than two weeks after the amendment was made to the ordinance, the required findings of fact were made. A mandate requires that the commissioners make findings of fact before enacting an amendment, according to Sherbin’s opinion and order.

“Such a disclosure was clearly required by the ordinance and Maryland law so as to make the amendment process fair and reasonable,” said Skidmore during a hearing in May.

 During the hearing, Skidmore requested that Meagher repeat the zoning process.

John Nelson, director of the Department of Planning and Land Development, declined to comment on how the court’s decision could affect Lakeside Commercial Property, LLC, noting that Meagher could appeal the decision.

A boat rental permit was issued by the Board of Zoning Appeals on June 11, 2012, to Meagher. St. Moritz Properties LLC, Bill’s Marine Service Inc. and Silver Tree Marine LLC appealed the issuance of the permit. The Board of Zoning Appeals denied the appeal and upheld the issuance of the permit.

Meagher’s plan was to offer 12 personal watercrafts and four pontoon boats as rentals as well as guided tours. He would use existing local marinas for related services. 

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.