The Quarry DRRA has many issues regarding the undisclosed property interests which are required by the DRRA law. Some of these issues were previously discussed here.
Below is a copy of an email sent to the County Council regarding whether Chase Land, LLC owns the Quarry Property as stated in the DRRA, or whether Savage Stone, LLC owns not only the undisclosed mineral interests but also the land itself as shown in the MDE Application and Mining & Reclamation Plan Renewal.
As I previously stated in my written testimony and comments at the Work Session on April 29, 2019, Savage Stone, LLC and not Chase Land is identified as the surface land owner in the MDE permit renewal.
Either the MDE documents or the DRRA are in error regarding the ownership of the quarry property.
This core issue of ownership of the Quarry Property must be resolved before the DRRA is approved.
The Columbia Patch reported on April 26, 2019 that the kinetic sculpture “Azlon” was coming to the Merriweather District. The 3-story opus designed by artist Anthony Howe will be installed outside the new Tenable building.
However, speculation started on the Celebrating Columbia, Maryland,and its Future Facebook group when the link failed the day after its posting.
Patch’s articles are often substantially based on press releases. So it is perhaps notable that no other information about the installation can be found. “Maybe this announcement went out prematurely and got pulled?” Celebrating Columbia member and blogger Frank Hecker speculated.
The article states that “Azlon” is “named after the ‘one true king’ in the children’s literary classic The Chronicles of Narnia.” However, in Narnia the lion’s name is spelled Aslan. On the other hand, Azlon is “a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is composed of any regenerated naturally occurring proteins.” Section 303.6 Generic names of fibers to be used. Rules and Regulations Under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act 16 CFR Part 303.
Regardless, of the differences in spellings or the mystery of the disappearing Patch story, more information is available about Azlon the kinetic sculpture. On this page, the 2017 creation is identified as “For Sale.”
However, on this page Azlon I is listed as “sold;” perhaps it seems to Howard Hughes.
16.1703(a)(2) of the Howard County Code requires that the DRRA identify “the
names of the persons having a legal or equitable interest in the real property
subject to the agreement.” Paragraph 4 of the Recitals only identifies
Annapolis Junction Holdings, Chase Land, and Howard County as “the sole persons
having a legal or equitable interest” in the Petitioner Property.
In addition, it is unclear under what legal theory Howard County has an interest in the Petitioner Property. Its equitable interest as a contract purchaser of the parcels in the Water Tower Purchase and Sale Agreement is not fully explained in the DRRA. The property descriptions of the DRRA only make sense if the transfer of the water tower parcels close prior to the DRRA effective date, and the closing of the Water Tower Agreement is, in fact, a prerequisite for the closing of the School Site Agreement. In addition, the school site is adjoining and/or vicinal to the Petitioner Property, and not part of the DRRA.
The identification of only Annapolis Junction Holdings, Chase Land, and Howard County is an incomplete list of persons having a legal and/or equitable interest in the Petitioner Property. Howard County has undisclosed water and sewer easements and forest conservation easements. Of particular interest to those concerned about development on the Undeveloped Petitioner Property are the preservation easements held by the Howard County Conservancy. Savage Stone, LLC the operator of the quarry has a legal interest in the stone separate from the fee simple ownership of the quarry. Beneficiaries under deeds of trust may not have been disclosed. See Deed of Conservation Easement – Consent and Agreement of Trustees and Beneficiary Liber 9747 Folio 064. BGE and other utilities also have interests in the property which will be assumed but not discussed further herein.
In contrast to the lack of disclosure in the Chase DRRA, compare that of the Doughoregan/Carroll DRRA which included 176 pages of exhibits. See CR103-2010 Exhibit A Exhibits 1-10 FINAL. These exhibits included deeds, probate records and wills to show the title history of the property. Of particular importance here is “Exhibit 4 — Attorney title opinion certifying as to legal and equitable owners.”
As seen in the June 22, 2010 letter, the DRRA exhibit identified rights of way, easements including those to BGE, Maryland Historical Trust, and the Howard County Conservancy. The Chase DRRA has no such exhibits nor a list of easements. (As shown, the attorney title opinion was prepared by Talkin & Oh; it is unclear why Talkin & Oh failed to use this as a template for their work with the Chase DRRA).
The Preservation Easements
The Howard County Conservancy acquired easements to the property as part of the approval for the quarry in the Special Exception and the required development of the Ridgely’s Run Community Center. See Liber 9747 Folio 055, January 2006.
The Conservancy easements total approximately 45 acres of which about 32.8 acres are found in Parcel H which is included in the Undeveloped Petitioner Property but is not discussed in the DRRA.
The Howard County Conservancy easements are shown here on the County GIS map.
The Howard County Forest Conservation Easements are shown here.
Some of these easements are shown from F-09-071.
In the blowup, also note the sewer easement. See also Liber 1496 Folio 195.
The Howard County and Howard County Conservancy easements are shown together here.
Savage Stone, LLC
Because this is an active quarry mine, there are property ownership issues that would not occur with a regular DRRA for an undeveloped property. The legal and/or equitable interests of Savage Stone, LLC and possibly other related Gould family companies, including but not limited to, Laurel Sand and Gravel and Aggregate Management, Inc. have not been disclosed in the DRRA as required by the DRRA law.
The mine operator has legal rights separate from the fee simple owner of the property. In the most analogous case found, the Court of Special Appeals in interpreting the Maryland Dormant Mineral Interests Act stated:
“The Act defines a “mineral interest” as “an interest in a mineral estate, however created and regardless of form, whether absolute or fractional, divided or undivided, corporeal or incorporeal, including a fee simple or any lesser interest or any kind of royalty, production payment, executive right, nonexecutive right, leasehold, or lien in minerals, regardless of character.” Env. § 15-1201(c). From this, we conclude that a severed mineral interest constitutes a property right, and is, thus, a vested right.” Mary Harvey v. Joseph Sines 137 A.3d 1045, 228 Md. App. 283 (2016).
In the article below in discussing similar legislation in Ohio concluded: “A lease is merely an equitable interest in property that allows another to explore for minerals and develop those minerals if found.” Separating Mineral Interests from the Surface May Result in Two Real Property Tax Bills (emphasis added). Thus, Savage Stone appears to have property rights in the quarry separate from fee owner of the property.
The website for the quarry shows that Savage Stone, LLC is the operator.
However, the corporate parent of Savage Stone appears to be Aggregate Management, Inc.
Regarding the Ridgely’s Run Community Center development, Chase Land is the “owner” and Savage Stone is the “developer” for the storm water maintenance agreement.
Maryland Department of the Environment Lists Savage Stone not Chase Land as the Mine Operator
MDE shows that Savage Stone is the owner of the mining permit. It was originally issued to Chase Mining before its name change to Savage Stone.
The ownership of the quarry property is further complicated that the SDP for the school site has Savage Stone and not Chase Land as the owner.
The unclear ownership relationships are also demonstrated by the listing below on the Brownfield Master Inventory Report from July 2, 2018. It includes “Savage Stone,” “Chase,” and “Laurel Sand & Gravel, Inc.”
Further complications arise because of the current state of the MDE mining records. In a phone call with MDE on April 22, 2019, MDE staff stated that Savage Stone renewed its mining permit on January 17, 2019. The owner of the fee simple property and of the mine are both listed as Savage Stone. Chase Land does not appear in the current MDE records.
Chase Land, LLC is not now and appears never to have been the operator of the quarry. So when section 1.2 of the DRRA states that Chase Land will “operate” the quarry, this appears to be an inaccurate statement. The County has no relationship under the DRRA with the operator of the quarry. If the quarry companies were to be sold to third parties, they would be totally separate from Chase Land and the other Gould family companies. Howard County would perhaps have rights as a third party beneficiary of any lease between Chase Land and the mine operators, but not under the DRRA. So the ownership and corporate relationships of the various Gould family companies needs to be not only disclosed but clarified regarding the Quarry Property and the ownership of the quarry. In addition, it seems that perhaps Savage Stone should be added as a necessary party to the DRRA.
(The Howard County Solicitor has been made aware of many of these issues, but believes it is the responsibility of the Petitioner to disclose those entities with legal or equitable interests in the Property, and he finds the DRRA legally sufficient).
(B) ONLY THE PROVISIONS OF §§ 11B-101, 11B-102(G), 11B-104, 11B-105, 11B-106, 11B-106.2, 11B-107, 11B-108, 11B-109, 11B-110, 11B-112.1, 11B-112.2, 11B-113, 11B-113.1, 11B-113.2, 11B-113.3, 11B-113.4, 11B-113.5, 11B-114, AND 11B-117 OF THE REAL PROPERTY TITLE OF THE CODE APPLY TO A COMMUNITY BENEFIT ASSOCIATION. THE OTHER SECTIONS OF ARTICLE 11B OF THE REAL PROPERTY TITLE OF THE CODE DO NOT APPLY TO A COMMUNITY BENEFIT ASSOCIATION.
Thus, CA will continue to be subject to the amendments of the HOA. Just this legislative session, SB612 and HB709 propose to add a new section 11B-106.2 and renumber the existing section to 11B-106.4. CA will have to ensure that all amendments like this one in the future are also made in the CBA; otherwise, the reference in the CBA to 11B-106.2 will not be the intended provision. The lobbying issues that the CBA provisions were meant to remove will still remain.
The bill adds a new paragraph 11B-102(g) which states that ” (G) EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION 5-6D-02(B) OF THE CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS ARTICLE OF THE CODE, THIS TITLE DOES NOT APPLY TO A COMMUNITY BENEFIT ASSOCIATION. ” This is the total opposite of the language in paragraph (e) which specifically excludes condominiums and cooperative housing corporations from the HOA. There are many parallel provisions between the HOA and the Condo Act, but each is a separate law. Some legislation addresses both of the parallel provisions. Thus, when making amendments to these laws, the General Assembly is forced to specifically amend each of them. Similarly, the CBA must be a separate and parallel statute to the HOA and not be tied to it by reference. If future amendments are made to the CBA, the General Assembly must specifically intend to do so.
(c) Applicability of section. — This section only applies to a development that: (1) Contains at least 13,000 acres of land and has a population of at least 80,000
No other homeowners association in Maryland is of this size or population. The next clause of paragraph (c) continues “and (2) Is governed by a homeowners association that levies an annual charge on property within the development.”
An argument could be made that the provisions of the HOA and CBA are in conflict because when CA becomes a CBA rather than an HOA there will not a homeowners association to which section 11B-113.4 will apply. However, a “Homeowners association” is defined to be “a person having the authority to enforce the provisions of a declaration.” Section 11B-101 (i). Regardless, what point is served by CA creating a new section CBA provision but leave the provision that only applies to Columbia dangling in the HOA and serving no other entity in Maryland?
Therefore, any CBA legislation must copy each and every provision of the HOA that is to be made applicable to CA so that the General Assembly does not continue to make amendments to the HOA with unintended consequences to CA.
The Howard County Board of Elections completed its canvass of the remaining absentee votes Friday afternoon.
According to Board of Elections Director Guy Mickley, Board of Education Write-in candidate Mavourene Robinson received just 92 votes in what proved to be a quixotic campaign. This is less than one vote per precinct.
A total of 385,781 votes were cast in the Board of Education races. A total of 1,685 write-in votes were received, but other than the 92 votes for Robinson, the remaining votes were invalid with many being for fictitious characters.
194,283 under votes were recorded where the voter chose less than four candidates, and 804 ballots contained over votes.
Vicky Cutroneo and Chao Wu were the top two vote winners and will get 4-year terms with 58,426 and 54,254 votes respectively. Jen Mallo and Sabina Taj will get 2-year terms with 53,766 for Mallo and 51,842 for Taj.
As a comparison of how far behind Robinson was, Danny Mackey came in eighth place with 36,923 votes.
Katie Fry Hester increased her lead Friday morning over Gail Bates for the District 9 Senate seat. Shortly after 1:30 am, the Howard County Canvassing Board announced the results of the first canvass of absentee ballots.
Hester now leads Bates by 531 votes. The absentee canvass result was 1076 for Hester and 707 for Bates. After election night on Tuesday, Hester held a lead of 154 votes. Earlier in the day Thursday, the results of the absentee canvass in Carroll County was announced. Hester picked up 8 votes in the Carroll portion of the district with votes 116 while Bates had 108 votes. Hester now has 32,366 votes to 31,835 for Bates.
The all-day canvass began at 10 am Thursday in Columbia. A total of 4375 absentee ballots were processed. 4356 were accepted while 19 were rejected. The major time-consuming step is that emailed ballots had to be recreated by hand onto machine-readable ballots.
Voters should be reminded to remember to sign the oath and to NOT print the oath of an emailed ballot on the back of the ballot itself. Also do NOT write your name on the top the ballots apparently to differentiate which ballot belongs to the various members in a household. Also do NOT send in the ballot for the primary election. All of these ballot mistakes were rejected.
Representatives for Gail Bates challenged the decision to reject 6 ballots which had the oath printed on the back of the ballot arguing unsuccessfully that the double-sided printing was inadvertent and not done “purposefully” to place an identifying mark on the ballot.
The provisional and additional absentee canvasses will be conducted next week.
UPDATE: This post was updated to add the information on the number of ballots processed and the major reasons for rejections.