Help Aaron to compel the City of Gaithersburg to follow Annexation rule

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Sep 26, 2017

Thank you to everyone who came to court today - it was nice to see a room full of friendly faces.

We won today's hearing! That’s a big step but we aren’t done.

Honorable Judge Rubin presided:

http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/31cc/html/msa...

The city asked the courts for two things: 1) dismissal, 2) judgement — the Judge said no to both.

A lawsuit is dismissed when there is no injury. For example if you saw someone got hurt on the news you couldn’t sue for damages because it didn’t happen to you. In this case we have people who live right next to the annexation who are obviously affected by a change of jurisdiction if the land is annexed.

A lawsuit can have a summary judgement where the Judge finds the complaint so silly that they decide on the spot to not let the case go to trial to save everyone’s time and effort. The Judge feels this is not frivolous so declined to provide summary judgement today.

The City setup a paradox and the judge saw right through it. A catch 22 or “chicken and the egg” problem.

The City claimed no wrongdoing because they passed the annexation as a resolution. They argue it does not require the formalities of a legislative act. They claim it is merely a formal expression of opinion so 2 votes is enough and doesn’t violate city charter. But if that’s the case, if this is not a legislative act, case law allows for property owner standing which is what county residents have.

The land in question touches the city only with a “pin prick” meaning it’s a bit like gerrymandering. No city residents live close to the annexation but plenty of county residents do. If the annexation happens the county elementary school of Thurgood Marshal ES will have a large influx of students but they have 5 portable classrooms already. It is also possible that they would be redistricted to Rachel Carson ES but that school has 11 portables right now. So here is where the City gets really dirty and tried to pull a fast one. The city claims that legislative acts require “taxpayer standing” so only city taxpayers may raise a case against them. This is terrible because first the city claimed annexation is NOT a legislative act. If it were a legislative act then 3 favorable votes would be required to annex land.

Is annexation a legislative act or not? The City cannot have it both ways.

Judge Rubin rightly questioned the City asking “What would stop you from passing with 1 vote tomorrow?” he also asserted “Why is it easier to annex land than place a traffic light?” All the city could say is that this was all oral and how they’ve always operated, there are no written rules and nobody has ever challenged them before. The developer’s lawyer was allowed to intervene and speak. When he was questioned he said “It might take less votes to annex land than to put a traffic light but it’s not easier because we do have to petition and file paperwork to start the annexation request.”

The night of the vote Mayor Jud Ashman phoned the council member who had a conflict of interest, Ryan Spiegel, to come from home to make a quorum. This was after Righteous Rob Wu said “happy holidays” and went home to break quorum out of disgust for being led on by Ryan who directed conversations for months and because he wanted to have a vote only when we selected another council member to take the seat of Henry Marraffa who had succumbed to cancer. After Rob went home the council proceeded to bad mouth him in public and asked for him to resign.

I had asked the city to discuss the legality of the vote BEFORE filing the lawsuit. The city made it clear, in writing, that they refused to discuss. We had no choice but to file with the county courts.

The city council is operating in direct violation of state ethics laws and they don’t care:

http://ethics.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/file...

They can receive gifts and not have to report ownership interests from property that was outside the city limits. City staff has provided the council with a body of ethics law that is compliant but the council chooses to live in direct violation of state law. We are left to wonder why, what is it that they are benefiting from to live outside the law?

Generally municipal governments in America are expected to operate lawfully with dignity and respect for everyone. They are supposed to advocate for our interests, pool our resources, and give us a better life. On it’s face, anyone who brings a city to court you have to wonder why. It’s presumed that the local government is acting justly so it’s a large hill to overcome. I did not know what the outcome of today’s trial would be but I knew we had to try. My faith in our system of laws has been restored. I am especially thankful to Robin Ficker who represented us in court and helped us get where we are today. I kissed Robin (on the forehead) and I liked it! Robin delivered for us in a big way. This is just the first step but it’s a big one. Next time in court we have to discuss if annexation is a legislative act which would make it an ordinance and require 3 votes.

We have ordered a typed transcript from the courts of everything that was said. We should get it in a few days.

Peter Rouleau is a reporter for the Sentinel, the last Montgomery County newspaper. He is running a story. I know he’d like to hear your thoughts:

[email protected]

Thank you,

Aaron

Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Sep 25, 2017

The City of Gaithersburg two requests for dismissal was rejected and denied, so we move on in the process. I am sure Aaron will broadcast out an update once we all catch up on our day jobs but wanted to relay our success in this round and we get to move on. The Judge thought we had a valid reason (which is called Standing) and our case was not frivolous. He was pretty hard on the City for their lack of written processes. Remember though this is not a final ruling but allows us to proceed.

Many many thanks to Robin Ficker for being our Attorney, to the neighbors who attended today’s court session, and to everyone who has supported the effort.

- Steve

Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Sep 18, 2017

It appears we are on for our hearing next Monday (9-25) as described below and everyone is invited to attend. There are local parking garages and lots of seating room in the court room. Please attend if at possible and don’t worry if you are early or late, the Court is very accommodating.

As always, we appreciate your support and look forward to seeing everyone who can attend.

- Steve

District Court

50 Maryland Avenue

Rockville, Maryland 20850

10:00 – 12:00

Room 1003

Judge Albright

Case# 429811V

240-777-9000

Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Aug 26, 2017

The City of Gaithersburg has responded to our amended complaint that the City improperly annexed the Johnson property with the anticipated and no surprise request to dismiss again based on their same original reasoning.

So once again we provided a rebuttal refuting their dismal request late today asking for the Court to have this go to trial. The Court will most likely provide a new future hearing date for both parties to present and argue their case for going or not going forward. As in the previous hearing, the Judge will then decide to dismiss or to arrange a date for it to go to a full trial. Our experts continue say our case is not frivolous and it will be challenging.

We appreciate your support and will continue to keep you apprised.

Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Jul 12, 2017

CalAtlantic Homes purchased the contract to develop the “Johnson Property and will be having an open meeting on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. to provide their latest plan. Please come if possible and listen and share your views of this project.

Remember Thurgood Marshall Elementary School has limited parking so please car pool, walk, or plan accordingly.

Below is their official invite and local contact point. Hope to see everyone there.

- Steve


July 11, 2017
Dear Neighbor:
RE: The Enclave at Quince Orchard
CalAtlantic Homes is the contract purchaser for The Enclave at Quince Orchard, formerly
known as the “Johnson Property,” located at the northwest corner of Darnestown Road (MD Route
28) and Quince Orchard Road (MD Route 124) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, just to the north of
Quince Orchard High School. The property is 14 acres and is predominantly unimproved with the
exception of a single story brick building. This portion may be better known for the pit barbeque
stand that occasionally sits in the front of the property.
The property was annexed from Montgomery County into the City of Gaithersburg earlier
this year, and CalAtlantic Homes will be the residential builder. CalAtlantic Homes, which is
continuing the legacy of Ryland Homes, has been a top builder in this metro DC area for 50 years
and is one of the largest builders in the nation. We were also named Builder of the Year for 2016
by Builder Magazine. CalAtlantic Homes proudly builds thoughtfully designed homes from coast
to coast, with outstanding quality and an unwavering commitment to true customer service.
We are proud to have this opportunity to create another beautiful community in
Gaithersburg and would like to have an opportunity to meet our neighbors. Plans are being
finalized and we would like to share with you the progress that has been made. The proposed plans
are consistent in size, density and layout with the plans that were approved by the annexation.
The community meeting will provide you with an opportunity to see the latest plans and
we will be there to answer any questions you might have about the project. The meeting will be
held at the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, located at 12260 McDonald Chapel Drive,
Gaithersburg, MD, in the all-purpose/cafeteria room on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
There is no need to RSVP for this meeting. If you would like to speak with us prior to this meeting
you may email me at [email protected] I look forward to meeting you soon!
Sincerely yours,

David Duncan
Vice President Land Development
CalAtlantic Homes


Sent by

Julie Thompson
Land Coordinator
[email protected]
calatlantichomes.com
Continuing the legacies of Ryland and Standard Pacific
14280 Park Meadow Drive, Suite 108, Chantilly, VA 20151
office: (703) 449-6522 | mobile: (703) 501-0435
NYSE: CAA


DC Metro

Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Jul 05, 2017

Thank you everyone for your support. Currently we have 649 reads and raised just over $2,850.00. Expenditures to date are now $4,678.40 so your donations are greatly appreciated!

We don’t anticipate that we will raise the same amount as our expenses, but if for some reason we do YEAH!, we will donate the monies to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). They are a very highly rated charitable Non-Profit based here in Montgomery County Maryland. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate charity since we are trying to get the Gaithersburg City Council to LISTEN to the hundreds and hundreds of surrounding voices.

The HLAA helps Children, Veterans, Students, Families, and many with hearing impaired conditions.

Thank you again,

- Steve

https://greatnonprofits.org/org/hearing-loss-assoc...

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is the nation’s leading organization representing people with hearing loss. According to the National Center for Health Statistics 48 million (20 percent) Americans have some degree of hearing loss. It is the third most prevalent chronic health condition in older adults, after arthritis and heart disease, making it an issue of national concern.

HLAA provides assistance and resources for people with hearing loss and their families to learn how to adjust to living with hearing loss. HLAA is working to eradicate the stigma associated with hearing loss and raise public awareness about the need for prevention, treatment, and regular hearing screenings throughout life.

The Hearing Loss Association of America has an impact on communication access, public policy, research, public awareness, and service delivery related to hearing loss. Its national support network includes an office in the Washington D.C. area, state organizations, and HLAA Chapters and state organizations across the country.

HLAA brings consumers and policy makers together to learn about communication access at the national, state and local levels. HLAA staff works at the national level to affect legislation that impacts people with hearing loss, whether it’s funding for hearing aids and cochlear implants, communication access in public places, or other important issues.

HLAA provides timely and reliable information about hearing loss through its website, Hearing Loss Magazine, the online e-News, the Hearing Loss Support Specialists Training, message boards/chat forums and webinars. HLAA also holds annual conventions for people with hearing loss and professionals. HLAA's Walk4Hearing is held in cities across the country in the spring and fall.

Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Jun 19, 2017

Aaron and 14 Co-Plaintiffs filed an Amendment to our case against the City of Gaithersburg for improperly trying to annex the Johnson property. Attached is an article from the latest issue of the Montgomery County Sentinel which provides a good update. An electronic version will be posted shortly.

Our filed Amendment is being processed and copies delivered to the Gaithersburg City Council. We expect the Court to set a new hearing date shortly which will be 30 plus days out. Thank you all for your support. We apologize for all the interruptions and visits to your homes and surrounding communities.
Add a Comment

Update posted by Steve Lawrence On Jun 10, 2017

We spent the last couple of weeks working with paralegals, lawyers, and walking around to residents that border the Johnson property. Lots of great work and we are now in a good position to carry this effort forward, and here is why...

  • We are arguing that the Vote to Annex was not properly carried out. The City had a legal Quorum to vote, but the law states they need three “yes” votes to enact but they only had two who voted in favor of annexation.
  • We are not arguing that the proposed annexed property doesn’t touch the city – there is legal precedent to allow pin point connections and this why previous legal Counsel advised us that we cannot win that argument.
  • We are not arguing that the City doesn’t have the authority to annex this property or others because they can, they have a right to do so.
  • We have legal standing, we have hundreds and hundreds of people affected that are a combination of local neighbors, residents that border the disputed property, and City residents that are 1,000 feet from of the Johnson property.
  • We hired two lawyers plus paralegals to help us craft our amended complaint. They recommend that we pursue this in court.
  • Currently we are talking with 20 plus people who are interested in signing our amended complaint as co-plaintiffs.
  • We spent $4,434.00 plus monies on deep research and two very accomplished lawyers, plus experienced members of the surrounding communities have provided feedback.

No guarantee and it will be up to the Judge to decide but we are now well positioned. Our biggest hurdle now is timing to get the last version printed and then walked around for signatures, so we can drop it off Monday June 12th which is the deadline we were given.

If anyone would like to help with the expenses, our Crowd Funding site is still available and donations are greatly appreciated. https://gogetfunding.com/help-aaron-to-compel-the-.... We all have real world, families and other commitments so please do not feel obligated, but help if you can.

Add a Comment

photo

Anonymous

Backed with $200.00 On Sep 21, 2017

photo

Guest

Backed with $100.00 On Jun 13, 2017

photo

Anonymous

Backed with $200.00 On Jun 12, 2017

photo

Lewis Myers

Backed with $20.00 On May 24, 2017

photo

Kevin Kettleman

Backed with $100.00 On May 23, 2017

photo

Kassandra Merker

Backed On May 23, 2017 Amount Hidden

photo

I hope you win!

Naomi Yount

Backed with $40.00 On May 23, 2017

Add a Comment

photo

Steve Lawrence

Campaign Owner

send a message

photo

Aaron Rosenzweig

Beneficiary

flag Gaithersburg, us

send a message

photo

Jeff Silva

Following Since Jun 12, 2017

photo

Sam Law

Following Since Jun 09, 2017

photo

Jeff Odom

Following Since Jun 09, 2017

photo

Aaron Rosenzweig

Following Since May 24, 2017

photo

Lewis Myers

Following Since May 24, 2017

photo

Kassandra Merker

Following Since May 23, 2017

photo

Naomi Yount

Following Since May 23, 2017

Not Ready to Donate?

Did you know a 10 second Facebook share raises an average of $25?

Share on