Ocean City Today

As another application fails, Frontier Town case continues

By Brian Gilliland | May 03, 2018
Photo by: File photo

(May 4, 2018) Two weeks ago, Worcester County officials pulled an amended application that might have put the question of an expanded campground at Frontier Town to rest once and for all, only to attempt reviewing it again this week, which also failed to produce a decision.

The Worcester County Circuit Court is currently contemplating the county commissioners’ 2017 decision to deny expanded water and sewer capacity, measured in equivalent dwelling units or EDUs, to Frontier Town and a proposed townhouse development in the same area called Sea Oaks.

Attorney Hugh Cropper IV, who represented both petitioners in these matters, said he would have recommended to Frontier Town to drop the appeal should the commissioners approve the amended request.

The commissioners voted to reject a denial of the application, but then took no action to approve the application, either.

The county staff developed three options on how to proceed — approve the request by drawing capacity from certain areas within the county, approve a portion of the request by allocating the capacity from other areas of the county, or to deny the request outright.

Commissioner Jim Bunting moved to pursue the third choice, which was defeated by a vote of 2-4-1, with commissioners Chip Bertino and Bunting in favor, Commissioner President Diana Purnell and commissioners Joe Mitrecic, Bud Church and Merrill Lockfaw opposed, and Commissioner Vice President Ted Elder abstaining.

Purnell asked for another motion, which was met with silence. After about a minute, the meeting continued.

Cropper, after the decision, said he needed to check the relevant code to see what his options were, while County Attorney Maureen Howarth said the status quo remains intact until another decision has been made, or the judge rules on the matter before the court.

Last year, the Worcester County Commissioners denied both Sea Oaks LLC and Sun TRS LLC equivalent dwelling unit purchases based on a plan required by the state. The plan allocates where EDUs can be used and for what purpose, and the Sea Oaks development plus the Frontier Town requests would use up most, if not all, of the available capacity in a given area.

The petitioners appealed this decision to the circuit court.

Last Monday, during the hearing, the court determined that the appeal had merit, but a change in the form of the decision was necessary.

Judge Dan Powell ruled the matter was appropriate for an administrative mandamus order, which is a judicial command issued to a lower court or person to perform a public or statutory duty. The matter had been considered as one for declaratory judgment.

Simply put, the petitioners have been granted 30 days to re-file their grievance using the proper terminology before the matter would be considered. The county will also have 30 days to respond to the new application, essentially starting the process over from the beginning, before the case goes comes back before a judge.

Once it does return, the judge will also consider combining both claims into a single action, as well as a pending motion to dismiss by the county.

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