Citing case law and weighing land use issues over 60 years, Monday’s Zoning Appeals Board determined that the nonconforming zoning status of the Frank M Jarman American Legion Post 36 property will remain legally nonconforming.
The determination will allow Minary’s Dream Alliance to continue the purchase of the property and continue their mission “to transform the lives of youth, families, and communities through education, resource development, and community engagement.
A zoning appeal was entered by Thomas Voshell and Chesmar Community Association, citing that the American Legion property, zoned as “nonconforming use” in 1962, is no longer in compliance with that zoning regulation in an area primarily zoned as residential.
Daniel Saunders, Attorney at MacCleod Law Group, represented Chesmar Community Association. Attorneys Stephen Meehan and Mitchell Mowell represented the American Legion. Saunders was not present at Monday’s proceedings.
Citing several examples of the difference between “intensifying” or “extending” a nonconforming zoning status, Zoning Appeals attorney Christopher F. Drummond described a legal framework for the Board to consider as they weighed the appeal to terminate the zoning status of the American Legion Post property.
Specifically, Drummond mentioned the 1948 Green vs. Garrett challenge to the nonconforming zoning status afforded the Baltimore Stadium. Originally used for amateur athletes, the status was challenged when professional paid baseball players started using the stadium, arguing that the original intent as a “recreation” area had been “extended,” nullifying its status. However, the Baltimore Zoning Appeals Board found that “recreation” was in the original described intent of the land use at the stadium and that players, paid or not, were still recreation for attendees. The Board shot down the appellant’s argument that the property was “extending” beyond its original land use parameters.
Similarly, the Board considered the use of the American Legion property, much of it based on the first-hand knowledge and testimony of Mr. John Diller, a member of the American Legion since 1964. Diller described the many functions of the Legion, from social events, hosting professional organizations, blood banks to outreach support of other community efforts.
The Board of Appeals, noting that no complaint against the American Legion has been noted during the last 60 years, found that Minary’s Dream Alliance has been acting within the same scope of community service. They also determined that even with a slowdown of activity at the Legion property during the pandemic, that did not warrant a determination of “abandonment,” as challenged by the Chesmar Community Association.
One MDA activity appeared to be controversial—the Club Fear proposal, an adolescent youth clubhouse geared to support youth ages 12-17 impacted by, affected by, or diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder and their families.
The concern arose with what appeared to be contradictory information provided to the Board due to Mid-Shore Behavioral Health’s partnership with MDA and that the Club could be construed as a drug treatment center or expanded into one at a future date.
However, with clarification of original testimony and a Board discussion, it was determined that the property was not proposing to be a clinical site, but a place for mentoring and education, aligned with Mid Shore Behavioral Health’s mission to “provide substance use education, intervention, peer support, and resources for care.” The ‘resourced for care’ signify MDA capacity as a resource for referrals.
From left to right in this video: Zoning Appeals Attorney Christopher Drummond, Board members John Massey, Dr. Al Townshend (Chairman), and David Hill.
This video is approximately nine minutes in length.