Ocean City Today

Decision delayed on Frontier Town, Sea Oaks EDUs

By Brian Gilliland | Apr 26, 2018

(April 27, 2018) While the individual processes to develop open land into the Sea Oaks neighborhood and expand the camping facilities at Frontier Town have already been going on for years, Circuit Court Judge Dan Powell ruled it would still be a bit longer as the developers seek to overturn the county commissioners’ 2017 decision to deny them water and sewer capacity.

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 Sun Oaks development plus the Frontier Town requests would use up most, if not all, of the available capacity in a given area.

EDUs are a measure of water delivery and wastewater treatment based on the estimated usage of a single day in a single-family home.

During the hearing on Monday, it was determined that the appeal had merit, but a change in the form of the decision was necessary.

Judge 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 matter 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.

The Worcester County Commissioners had the chance to avoid at least one of those appeals last week as Frontier Town filed a new request for an additional 34 EDUs to supply about half of the proposed 213-campsite expansion. It had previously petitioned for 71 EDUs, which were intended to supply the entire expansion. Frontier Town purchased 166 EDUs previously, to get the park off septic systems and onto county services.

Before last Tuesday’s public meeting of the county commissioners, Attorney Hugh Cropper, representing Frontier Town, said he would withdraw the court action if the county moved forward with the new request.

Instead, the commissioners pulled the item from the agenda, and removed supporting documentation from the packet provided to journalists and the public.

It’s not an uncommon step, but it was a signal there would be no compromise on, or discussion of, the issue at the meeting.

Another request, also made by Cropper, was denied late last year for owners looking to develop Sea Oaks, a 135-unit townhouse development with some 24,000 square feet of commercial space.

Cropper had previously argued before the board to transfer the EDUs allocated to the parcel of land in question to another site owned by the same person. After that, the EDU-less parcel was sold to another owner, who tried to repurchase the 40 EDU transfer, and then some.

The county commissioners were skeptical of the deal, the owners and their motivations, and so denied the sale.

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