“Today the court recognized the importance of the state’s forest protection law and ensured attempts to bypass the law can be easily challenged in court.” Chesapeake Bay Foundation Director of Litigation Paul Smail
Maryland Court of Appeals rules that Chesapeake Bay Foundation may appeal the forest conservation plan from the Abingdon Woods development-AEGIS, August 27, 2022
The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its five citizen co-plaintiffs, allowing them to appeal the forest conservation plan for the Abingdon Business Park development.
According to a statement from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the organization “plans to contest the forest conservation plan for the Abingdon Woods project in Circuit Court. If successful, CBF will seek relief for citizens affected by the significant amount of forest clearing already conducted by the developer while this Court of Appeals case was pending.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation originally filed in Harford County Circuit Court in January 2020. The circuit court dismissed the case in August 2020, saying the plaintiffs had appealed prematurely because “there was more for the [Harford County planning and zoning] agency to do,” and that they could not appeal until a final decision was made on the development’s final site plan.
However, Judge Brynja Booth holds that the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991 allows for a forest conservation plan to be appealed before it approved and that the forest conservation plan is, in fact, a “‘final decision’ for appeal purposes.”
According to the court opinion, “a forest conservation plan indicates the limits of disturbance for the proposed project and how the existing forested and sensitive areas will be protected during and after development.”
Project opponents maintain that the forest conservation plan for the Abingdon Business Park would allow for the clearing of more trees than allowed by state and local law.