Department of State Planning v. Mayor and Council of City of Hagerstown

Decision Date11 June 1980
Docket NumberNo. 128,128
Citation415 A.2d 296,288 Md. 9
PartiesDEPARTMENT OF STATE PLANNING v. MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF the CITY OF HAGERSTOWN et al.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Judith A. Armold, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore (Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., and David H. Feldman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Kenneth J. Mackley, Richard F. McGrory and Robert E. Kuczynski, Hagerstown (Mackley & Gilbert and McCauley, Cooey & McGrory, Hagerstown, on the brief), for appellees.

Argued before MURPHY, C. J., and SMITH, DIGGES, ELDRIDGE, COLE, DAVIDSON and RODOWSKY, JJ.

DAVIDSON, Judge.

This case presents the question whether, under Maryland Code (1957, 1979 Repl.Vol.), Art. 88C, § 2(q), the Department of State Planning has a right to intervene in an appeal to a circuit court from an action of a local zoning body.

Article 88C, § 2(q), effective 1 July 1974, provides in pertinent part that the Department of State Planning shall:

"Have the right and authority to intervene in and become a party to any administrative, judicial, or other proceeding in this State concerning land use, development or construction. Upon intervention, the Department shall have standing and all rights of a party in interest or aggrieved party, including all rights to apply for judicial review and appeal. . . . The right of intervention in any administrative, judicial or other proceeding in this State may be exercised only in accordance with applicable rules of procedure and law . . . ." (Emphasis added.)

Maryland Rule 208, the applicable rule of procedure governing intervention, provides in pertinent part:

"a. Of Right.

Upon timely application a person shall be permitted to intervene in an action : (a) when the representation of the applicant's interest by existing parties is or may be inadequate and the applicant is or may be bound by a judgment in the action; or (b) when the applicant is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property which is in the custody or subject to the control or disposition of the court or an officer thereof.

"c. Procedure.

1. Motion.

An application to intervene shall be made by motion.

2. Leave of Court.

Leave to intervene shall be granted only by court order, which shall designate the intervenor as a party plaintiff or defendant." (Emphasis added.)

On 13 November 1978, the City Council of Hagerstown (Council), an appellee, granted a requested reclassification of approximately 46 acres of land from the IR zone (Industrial Restricted) to the C3 zone (Commercial Central). The Hagerstown Planning Commission (Commission) had opposed the granting of the requested reclassification. The appellant, the Department of State Planning (State Planning), had not participated in the proceeding before the Council. On 30 November 1978, the Commission informed State Planning that the Hagerstown City Attorney had indicated that he could not represent the Commission and that it had no other legal counsel to represent it on appeal from the Council's zoning action. It requested that State Planning represent the Commission for the purpose of filing both an appeal and a motion for the appointment of counsel. On 13 December 1978, in the Circuit Court for Washington County, State Planning filed both the appeal and the motion on the Commission's behalf. On 11 January 1979, the Council filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the Commission lacked standing. On 21 February 1979, the Circuit Court denied the Commission's motion for appointment of counsel and the Council's motion to dismiss. On 9 March 1979, State Planning filed a motion to intervene as a party appellant.

On 8 January 1979, the Council granted a reclassification of a second parcel of land consisting of approximately 11 acres, from the R2 zone (Residential) and C2 zone (Commercial General) to the C3 zone. On 5 February 1979, the Commission, which had also opposed the granting of this requested reclassification, filed an appeal. On 9 March 1979, the Council filed a motion to dismiss this second appeal on the ground that the Commission lacked standing. On that same day, State Planning filed a motion to intervene as a party appellant. On 27 June 1979, the Circuit Court denied the Council's motion to dismiss.

On 2 July 1979, the Circuit Court denied each of State Planning's motions to intervene on the ground that State Planning did not have an unrestricted right to intervene. It determined that because State Planning had not demonstrated that a substantial State or interjurisdictional interest was involved in the zoning proceedings before the Council, and because State Planning had not participated in those proceedings, it could not intervene in the judicial proceedings on appeal. State Planning appealed to the Court of Special Appeals which consolidated the two cases. We granted a writ of certiorari before consideration by that Court. We shall reverse.

State Planning contends that the language of Art. 88C, § 2(q) is clear and unambiguous. It maintains that under that section it has an unrestricted right to intervene in any administrative, judicial or other proceeding concerning land use, development or construction if it exercises that right in accordance with applicable rules of procedure and law. It asserts that the only applicable rule is Maryland Rule 208. It claims that Rule 208 a, (a) and (b), and more particularly that provision which requires a demonstration of the existence of an interest that may be inadequately represented, are inapplicable. It concludes that in order to establish its right to intervene, it need comply only with those provisions of Rule 208 a and c which require the filing of a timely motion.

The Council contends that the language of Art. 88C, § 2(q) is ambiguous. It asserts that certain language used in the preamble to this statute restricts the right to intervene provided in § 2(q). 1 It maintains that not only the language of the preamble but also State Planning's own regulations 2 indicate that the Legislature intended to limit State Planning's right to intervene. It asserts that State Planning has a right to intervene in a judicial proceeding only after it has demonstrated that a substantial State or interjurisdictional interest is involved, and then only if it has participated in the proceeding before the local zoning body.

The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and effectuate the actual intent of the Legislature. In determining this legislative intent, a court must read the language of the statute in context and in relation to all of its provisions. In addition, it may consider the statute's legislative history and administrative interpretations, and must consider its purpose. North Charles Gen. Hosp., Inc. v Employment Security Admin., 286 Md. 115, 118, 405 A.2d 751, 753 (1979); Comptroller of the Treasury v. John C. Louis Co., 285 Md. 527, 538, 543, 404 A.2d 1045, 1052-53, 1055 (1979). Where statutory language is plain and unambiguous, and expresses a definite meaning consonant with the statute's purpose, courts must not insert or delete words to make a statute express an intention different from its clear meaning. In re: James S., 286 Md. 702, 705, 410 A.2d 586, 587 (1980).

In our view, the language of § 2(q), when read in context, is clear and unambiguous. The words "certain . . . proceedings" appearing in the preamble to ch. 291, Acts of 1974, refer to the "proceeding(s) . . . concerning land use, development or construction" described in § 2(q). Similarly, the words "certain circumstances," also appearing in the preamble, refer to "the applicable rules of procedure and law" described in § 2(q). The authority to intervene in "certain administrative and judicial proceedings under certain circumstances" is therefore coextensive with the authority to intervene in "any administrative, judicial or other proceeding . . . concerning land use, development or construction . . . in accordance with applicable rules of procedure and law." Thus, the language of the preamble does not restrict the rigfht to intervene provided in § 2(q). In addition, there is legislative history to show that provisions which would have imposed some restrictions on the right to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings concerning land use, development or construction were specifically rejected. 3 Moreover, the "Standards for Intervention in Land Use Proceedings" contained in COMAR 16.03.01.01 through 16.03.01.09 are intended solely for informational purposes. Indeed, COMAR 16.03.01.10 expressly provides that these standards "do not curtail or limit the authority to intervene established by Chapter 291 of the Laws of Maryland of 1974." Thus, the language of the statute, when read in its context, the legislative history, and the administrative interpretations all lead to the conclusion that the Legislature intended that State Planning have an unrestricted right to intervene in any judicial proceeding concerning land use, development or construction if it files a timely motion in accordance with Md.Rule 208 a and c. There is no requirement that it plead or prove the existence of substantial State or interjurisdictional interest in the proceeding or that that interest might be inadequately represented. Neither is there any requirement that State Planning participate in the proceeding before the local zoning body in order to establish its right to intervene. Accordingly, the Circuit Court erred in denying State Planning's motions on the ground that it had only a restricted right to intervene.

Having determined that State Planning had an unrestricted right to intervene, the only remaining question is whether its motion was timely. The answer to that question depends upon an examination of all of the circumstances. Montgomery County v. Ian Corp., 282 Md. 459, 465, 385 A.2d 80, 83 (1978). See NAACP v. New York, 413 U.S. 345, 365-66, 93 S.Ct. 2591,...

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