Casey v. Rockville, No. 85, September Term, 2006.

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtHarrell
Citation929 A.2d 74,400 Md. 259
Decision Date30 July 2007
Docket NumberNo. 85, September Term, 2006.
PartiesBetty Brown CASEY, Trustee v. MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF ROCKVILLE.
929 A.2d 74
400 Md. 259
Betty Brown CASEY, Trustee
v.
MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF ROCKVILLE.
No. 85, September Term, 2006.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
July 30, 2007.

[929 A.2d 77]

Barbara A. Sears (John J. Delaney, Erin E. Girard, and Justin P. Hayes of Linowes and Blocher L.L.P., on brief), Bethesda, MD, for Petitioner.

Sondra Harans Block (Paul T. Glasgow, on brief), Rockville, MD, for Respondent.

Argued before BELL, C.J., and RAKER, CATHELL, HARRELL, BATTAGLIA, GREENE, and ALAN M. WILNER, (Retired, specially assigned), JJ.

HARRELL, J.


This case invites examination of a decision of Respondent, the Mayor and Council of Rockville, Maryland, to designate as historically/architecturally significant and, as a result, place within Rockville's historical district, a certain piece of improved real property. The property at issue is an 11,300 square foot parcel of land located at 115 Park Avenue, at the intersection of Fleet Street and Park Avenue, and improved with a 1½ story bungalow (collectively the "Property") constructed approximately 80 years ago by one Henry Howes for J. Roger Spates and his wife, Annie E. Spates. The bungalow, now owned by the Betty Brown Casey Trust,1 is commonly referred to in Rockville as the "Spates Bungalow."

Because the historic designation of the Property may hinder substantially Petitioner's ability to raze the bungalow in order to put the land to arguably a more economically rewarding use,2 the Trust filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County seeking judicial review of the historic designation action. The Circuit Court, on 15 October 2004, opined that the decision to place the Property in the historic district was not arbitrary on the record before it, but nevertheless remanded the matter to the Mayor and Council in order to consider the economic feasibility of preserving the bungalow. According to the Circuit Court, the Mayor and Council erred in neglecting to consider this factor in the course of its deliberations on whether to designate the Property as historic. Upon appeal by the Mayor and Council, the Court of Special Appeals, although agreeing with the Circuit Court's conclusion as to the sufficiency of evidence supporting the Mayor and Council's decision concerning historical significance, reversed the Circuit Court's judgment remanding the matter. The intermediate

929 A.2d 78

appellate court reasoned that the Mayor and Council was not required to consider economic infeasibility of preservation when deciding whether to include the Property within the historic district. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the intermediate appellate court.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Since the date it was platted, the land upon which the Spates Bungalow is located has been linked for most of the time to arguably significant figures in Rockville history. Prior to construction of the bungalow, the land was part of a larger tract ("The Park")3 owned by Judge William Veirs Bouic, Sr., a prominent political leader during a period of rapid growth in Rockville in the mid- to late-19th century. Considered instrumental in securing self-governance for Rockville in 1860, Judge Bouic served as a Town Commissioner until 1867. Previously the State's Attorney for Montgomery County and counsel to the B & O Railroad, he was appointed to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in 1867, and served in that capacity until 1882. By the end of Judge Bouic's judicial career, his only son, William Veirs Bouic, Jr., also a resident of "The Park,"4 had himself become a prominent civic leader. Bouic, Jr., educated at the Rockville Academy and Columbian University in Washington, D.C., was admitted to the Bar of Maryland in 1870. During his illustrious career, Bouic, Jr., was Rockville's first Mayor under the Town Charter of 1888, elected to the State Senate in 1897, a presidential elector, and helped form the Maryland State Bar Association. MARYLAND STATE ARCHIVES, 110 MARYLAND MANUAL 178-79 (1898).

Despite the land's historical roots prior to construction of the bungalow, it is the bungalow itself that was the main focus of the current historic designation controversy. After the death of Bouic, Jr., his estate sold to Mr. and Mrs. J. Roger Spates two subdivided lots located within "The Park." Constructed for the Spates family approximately in 1923, the bungalow is believed to have been the Spates family's primary residence during Roger's term as Rockville's Mayor from 1926 to 1932.5 The Spates Bungalow is one of the last two original structures remaining in what had been "The Park" subdivision. It is considered by some to be "an excellent and little-altered example of the Craftsman style of architecture" popular in the 1890's to 1920's.6 J. Roger and Annie E.

929 A.2d 79

Spates sold the Property on 5 December 1949 to Bernard and Catherine J. Poss who, in turn, sold the Property in 1954 to Mary E. Clements Offutt. Mrs. Offutt was the widow of Lee Offutt, the Mayor of Rockville from 1906-1916 and again from 1918-1920. After Mrs. Offutt's death in 1963, the executors of her estate sold the Property to Eugene B. Casey who, in 1990, along with his wife, Betty Brown Casey, as trustees, transferred the Property to the Betty Brown Casey Trust ("Trust"). The Trust remains the current owner.

From 1980 until 1999, the Property was leased to a Montgomery County surveyor who used the bungalow primarily for the purposes of storage and some office space.7

929 A.2d 80

When the surveyor, due to the bungalow's deteriorating condition, declined to renew his lease and vacated the premises in 1999, a structural engineer was engaged to evaluate the Property. The engineer determined that rehabilitation of the bungalow would not be cost effective, and concluded that demolition of the building was appropriate. Specifically, the engineer's report indicated that the bungalow was unusable for commercial leasing due to its extensive disrepair. The record indicates that Petitioner's consultants estimated the costs of restoration of the house at approximately $293,086.20, that the assessed value of the restored Property would be $318,000, and that the amount expended to achieve such a result could not be recouped easily through rental income derived from lease of the Property. This evidence regarding the economic feasibility of restoration, based on our perusal of the record, has not been met yet with contrary evidence.8

In light of this financial picture, the Trust began the building demolition process in June 2001 by obtaining a preliminary forestry sign-off regarding the preservation of trees on the Property. A formal demolition permit application was filed with the Rockville Planning Department on 7 September 2001. The application was accepted and entered into the permit computer system on 17 September 2001. At the time of filing of the application, the Property was not designated as being within a municipal historic district.9 Sometime in September of 2001, Petitioner contends a representative of the City staff informed it that all requirements for issuance of a demolition permit had been satisfied and that a permit would be issued shortly.10

On 2 October 2001, however, Petitioner was informed by letter that the permit application remained pending, subject to review of the Property by the Rockville

929 A.2d 81

Historic District Commission ("HDC")11 regarding the historical/architectural significance of the bungalow. According to that letter, Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation, Ltd. ("Peerless Rockville"), a third-party, non-profit historic preservation group, nominated the Property for historic designation due to its link to prominent historical figures in the local government, as well as its architectural appeal. The Mayor and Council of Rockville requested, as a result, that the HDC evaluate the Property and make a recommendation regarding its eligibility for historic designation.12 The letter continued that "the City of Rockville's Environmental Guidelines recommend that buildings over 50 years old be evaluated for historic significance to the City in the event of a demolition permit application." The HDC open meeting was scheduled for 16 October 2001, at which time the HDC would hear testimony from all interested parties.13 In the event that the HDC made a recommendation in favor of designation, the matter would be transmitted to Respondent for further action.

At the 16 October 2001 meeting, the parties, in addition to representatives of Peerless Rockville, were given the opportunity to present testimony and other evidence. The record indicates that, at this meeting, Counsel for Petitioner submitted evidence, premised on an assessment completed by the property manager of Casey Management, that renovating the Property to the point that it could again be leased for storage would require extensive repair. Counsel for Petitioner requested at the conclusion of the meeting that the record remain open for three weeks in order to allow for submission of additional information so that the HDC would be apprised fully of the situation before making its recommendation. Counsel's request was granted, and the parties were allowed to submit additional information, including various reports by their respective experts regarding the historical and architectural significance of the Property, as well cost estimates for its restoration. It was during this time that the Trust submitted further evidence suggesting that it would not be financially feasible to restore the bungalow on the Property if it were placed in the historic district zone. After further consideration, the HDC reached a unanimous decision that the Property be designated as a single-site historic district and forwarded its formal recommendation to

929 A.2d 82

that effect to Respondent on 18 December 2001. The HDC, in rendering its formal recommendation that the property be designated as historically/architecturally significant,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 practice notes
  • Attorney Grievance v. Garcia, Misc. Docket AG No. 9, September Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 28, 2009
    ...and concluded that a 90-days suspension was appropriate, in the absence of an explicit finding of an intent to defraud. Id. at 258, 929 A.2d at 74. Mr. Garcia's reliance on Attorney Grievance v. Sweitzer, 395 Md. 586, 911 A.2d 440 (2006) is also misplaced, because Sweitzer actually supports......
  • Carroll County v. Forty West, No. 1531, Sept. Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 11, 2008
    ...the nature and powers of county commissioners and the manner of exercising their powers. Casey v. Mayor and City Council of Rockville, 400 Md. 259, 280, 929 A.2d 74 (2007). These powers pertain to matters such as road and bridge construction, land drainage, and public watershed associations......
  • Muskin v. State Dep't of Assessments, No. 140
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • October 25, 2011
    ...burdensome, a person must “show sufficiently how the procedure followed amounted to a denial of due process.” Casey v. Mayor of Rockville, 400 Md. 259, 321, 929 A.2d 74, 111 (2007); see also Roberts v. Total Health Care, Inc., 349 Md. 499, 510, 709 A.2d 142, 147 (1998) (“To invoke the prote......
  • Brown v. Handgun Permit Review Bd., No. 2511, September Term, 2007.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 28, 2009
    ...notice must sufficiently precede the hearing that follows in order for the notice to satisfy due process concerns, see Casey v. Rockville, 400 Md. 259, 319, 929 A.2d 74 (2007) ("due process requires the opportunity to be heard `at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner'") (quoting Pit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Attorney Grievance v. Garcia, Misc. Docket AG No. 9, September Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 28, 2009
    ...and concluded that a 90-days suspension was appropriate, in the absence of an explicit finding of an intent to defraud. Id. at 258, 929 A.2d at 74. Mr. Garcia's reliance on Attorney Grievance v. Sweitzer, 395 Md. 586, 911 A.2d 440 (2006) is also misplaced, because Sweitzer actually supports......
  • Muskin v. State Dep't of Assessments, No. 140
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • October 25, 2011
    ...burdensome, a person must “show sufficiently how the procedure followed amounted to a denial of due process.” Casey v. Mayor of Rockville, 400 Md. 259, 321, 929 A.2d 74, 111 (2007); see also Roberts v. Total Health Care, Inc., 349 Md. 499, 510, 709 A.2d 142, 147 (1998) (“To invoke the prote......
  • Brown v. Handgun Permit Review Bd., No. 2511, September Term, 2007.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 28, 2009
    ...notice must sufficiently precede the hearing that follows in order for the notice to satisfy due process concerns, see Casey v. Rockville, 400 Md. 259, 319, 929 A.2d 74 (2007) ("due process requires the opportunity to be heard `at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner'") (quoting Pit......
  • Hns Dev. v. People's Counsel For Baltimore County, No. 639
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 8, 2011
    ...inquiry in this regard begins with a reading of the plain language of the statutory text.” Casey v. Mayor and City Council of Rockville, 400 Md. 259, 288, 929 A.2d 74 (2007) (citations omitted). As the Court of Appeals explained, in Kane v. Bd. of Appeals, 390 Md. 145, 161–62, 887 A.2d 1060......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT