CUMBERLAND - Opponents of Terrapin Run have filed a petition with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals directing that "conformance" is the standard that needs to be applied when the case is reviewed Aug. 2.

William Wantz, a Hagerstown attorney who represents the group, said, "We believe that 'in conformance' with the (county's) comprehensive plan under Maryland law is the standard that should be applied, which is much stricter than Ôconsistent.'"

He went on to say that the petition to the special appeals court seeks to have the standard of "consistent with" set aside as not in compliance with state law.

In May, Allegany County Circuit Court Judge Gary Leasure said the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals erred when it concluded Terrapin Run, a 4,300-unit proposed housing development adjacent to Green Ridge State Forest, was "in harmony" with the county Comprehensive Plan.

He remanded the case back to the board saying the standard that must be applied is whether the proposed housing development is "consistent" with the plan. That board will be the one to review the matter in August.

Craig Leonard, development manager of Terrapin Run, owned by PDC Inc. of Columbia and currently in the engineering phase, described the petition as an "obstructionist maneuver" and said it is an effort by project opponents to take a local decision away from local people.

"They don't expect to get results locally from the volunteers of the zoning board so the attorney paid by this group is trying to take the decision outside of Allegany County to Annapolis," he said.

Leonard said Terrapin Run has followed the process for developing the project throughout, "from 30 hours of hearings before the zoning board to Judge Leasure."

"They are now bringing it down to the meaning of two words," he said.

Leonard added that he is not surprised.

"It is typical legal wrangling, a delaying tactic," he said.

The Allegany County Zoning Board initially granted a special exception land use for the project based on its being in harmony with the county plan.

Leasure remanded the case back to the board of zoning appeals, saying the board needed to determine whether it is "consistent" with the county's plan.

Wantz seeks to have the special appeals court set the standard at "conforming" to the county plan prior to the zoning board's meeting in August.

Mona Ridder can be reached at mridder@times-news.com.

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