A circuit court judge has ruled that a Calvert County zoning amendment adversely impacting a local winery owner’s plan to expand his operation is illegal.
The decision was rendered Wednesday, Nov. 16 in Calvert County Circuit Court by Judge James J. Lombardi. The judge’s ruling invalidates a previous decision by the Calvert County Commissioners to change the county’s zoning law to require businesses such as wineries and breweries located in residential areas using a private road for access to have the approval of all residents with ownership or easement rights to the road.
The change impacted Solomons Island Winery of Lusby, which uses Garner Road for access. At a public hearing during the summer of 2010, several Garner Road residents requested the county require Solomons Winery’s owner, Ken Korando, to have the approval of all residents before he could move forward with the expansion of the winery.
Garner Road residents stated the high volume of traffic in and out of the winery, including several 18-wheel tractor-trailer trucks, posed a safety hazard to the neighborhood.
Last fall, the county commissioners voted 2-to-1-to-2 to enact the zoning change. Commissioners Linda Kelley and Barbara Stinnett voted for the text amendment while board President Wilson H. Parran voted opposed. Commissioners Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R] and Susan Shaw [R] abstained from voting on the measure. Clark stated his liquor store has a business relationship with the winery and Shaw cited her work with Korando’s wife on the Friends of Annmarie Garden Board as reasons for their abstentions. Kelley, Stinnett and Parran were not reelected last November while Clark and Shaw were.
One of Korando’s attorneys, David Weigel, called the commissioners’ decision “zoning by plebiscite. It came about by noisemaking and pressure. It hands zoning authority over to the neighbors. There is only one property that falls under this [zoning ordinance].”
Weigel added that the text amendment also resulted in “unlawful delegation of police power. There are no standards set. It’s the whim of the property owners.” The attorney further cited violations of due process and equal protection regarding his client.
Calvert County Attorney John Norris III contended that the zoning change was subject to a public hearing and the county commissioners enacted the measu