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Annapolis Real Estate Law Blog

Solving construction contract disputes in Maryland

During a commercial or residential construction project, the parties involved oftentimes draw up a legally binding agreement called a construction contract. During the course of the project, however, the parties may become embroiled in controversy. To help avoid such disputes, our firm may be able to provide knowledge and experience that could help effectively negotiate and draft a construction contract that all involved parties can agree on. They are also experienced in resolving disputes surrounding construction law.

Our firm has experience offering a tailor-made approach to a variety of clients. Some of our previous clientele has included homeowners, subcontractors, contractors, architects and developers with their particular objectives and goals, including successfully solving any conflicts that may arise during attempts to complete a project. The types of cases that our office has taken on include matters surrounding different aspects of construction law, including mechanic's liens, costs overrun claims, engineering or architectural malpractice, and defective work claims.

Sinclair CEO fighting corn farmer for control of land

Reports say that the CEO of Sinclair, a broadcasting giant, is involved in a land dispute with a Maryland farmer. After purchasing 235 acres of farmland in March 2013, the CEO has been fighting with a corn farmer over control of a 95-acre portion of the land. Recently, on July 20, a contractor hired by the CEO allegedly destroyed the entire crop of corn 75 days before it was due to be harvested.

According to farmers in the area, real estate disputes between new owners and the farmers who are leasing the land are common. When a new owner purchases farmland, they are generally expected to give the person leasing it a six-month notice in writing that the lease will be canceled. However, some real estate agents are not award of this rule.

How can property be rezoned?

Residents of or business owners in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, who want to use land for a purpose it is not zoned for will have to submit a rezoning request to the Zoning Division of the Office of Planning and Zoning, asking that the land be rezoned from one classification to another. If the land is located within 1,000 of tidal waters, it is included in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area and a Critical Area report must be submitted along with the rezoning application.

The report must address any impact the rezoning will have on the area and a detailed explanation of how the impact will be mitigated. An application received for a rezoning request within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area will be rejected in the report's absence.

Maryland court strikes down referendum from grassroots group

The Court of Special Appeals in Maryland affirmed a decision by the Howard County Board of Elections superintendent to deny a planned referendum by a grassroots group. The group, Citizens Working to Fix Howard County, was hoping to put certain zoning changes passed by the county council up for a public vote in November.

While the group received more than the 5,390 signatures required to put a measure on the ballot, the court affirmed that the petition was misleading and inaccurate. It cited two items on the petition that were not part of the comprehensive zoning bill that had been passed by the Howard County Council. It also cited language claiming that Maple Lawn had been rezoned for higher intensity use as misleading.

How landowners can change the zoning on their property

Landowners and property developers in Maryland might want to learn about the different types of land use laws. The way a piece of property can be used by the landowner is governed by zoning regulations. If a landowner wishes to change the zoning of the property, they may decide to file an application to rezone the parcel.

Besides a complete zoning change, there are other means for a landowner to change how a piece of property can be used. For instance, an owner may decide to apply for a variance which would allow a landowner to do something different on their property that is normally not allowed in that particular area. In order to be granted a variance, the landowner would need to show that zoning regulations have created a hardship in the use of the property.

Examining contractor liability for defects in construction

Maryland homeowners may be interested in an article discussing some of the ways that a contractor can be held liable for faulty work. These various causes of action can help the homeowner enforce the construction agreements and achieve the desired remedy.

During the home-building process, the homeowner, contractors and subcontractors enter into various contracts in order to define what work is to be completed. When there are construction defects in the home, the homeowner will use these agreements to force the party who bears responsibility to fix the issue.

Construction defect causes and remedies

Maryland residents and businesses dealing with construction defects may want to know more about what causes a defect and how a person can be compensated for damages incurred as a result of a defect. The term "construction defect" applies to any deficiency in a new home or other building resulting from a failure to design or construct the building in a workmanlike manner or a failure of the building or a portion of the building to perform as intended.

In some cases, a person or business may suffer considerable damage if they must live in or work out of a building containing construction defects. For example, the market value of a home could suffer, or a person's health might be compromised by water intrusion that results in mold or mildew. Businesses may have to make unbudgeted building improvements in order to successfully operate their business in a building with structural defects.

New zoning changes in affect

Some homeowners in Maryland might benefit from learning more about how recent zoning changes may affect those involved in retirement or recreation. Two amendments to the Solomons Town Center and Calvert County zoning ordinances were approved on July 15. One amendment under consideration calls for adding the Employment Center to places that allow indoor commercial recreational facilities. The amendment allowing indoor recreational facilities in the EC is to be conditional. Indoor recreational facilities were previously designated to the Rural Commercial District, and with special permission, the Town Center zoning subareas as well.

Two county commissioners vocally opposed the initial proposition for allowing a special exception for including the Light Industrial District. One commissioner stated he had no issues with the commercial recreational facilities being in the EC zone, but noted that these businesses may serve best when located in the Town Center. The other commissioner expressed concern about the potential dangers of having children's recreational facilities located in close proximity to landfills and other industrial sites.

Board delays voting on Maryland casino project

After a July 14 public meeting, Prince George's County officials have decided to hold a vote on a $925 million casino and resort that would be located close to Washington D.C. The vote would have been held on the same day but was delayed until July 21 due to three of the council's members not being at the meeting.

The plan won support of voters in Maryland in 2012 and the support of the Prince George's county executive. However, those who are opposed to the development say that it would be too bright and would cause traffic issues in an area where traffic is already congested at times. It is said that the board's approval is the last major step that needs to take place before construction begins.

White Oak master plan in Maryland delayed

The Montgomery County Council voted to extend a deadline from July 17 to Sept. 15 to complete a master plan for White Oak. After the Sept. 15 deadline passes, there will be a blackout period related to land use issues starting on Nov. 1 until a new council takes over on Dec. 1. In addition to the master plan for White Oak, a sectional map amendment must also be created.

Although there are several weeks between the Sept. 15 deadline and the Nov. 1 blackout period, time must be allotted for public comments as well as to vote on and approve both the master plan and the sectional map amendment. Although some council members are annoyed that the approval process has taken so long, there are those who believe that there is enough time to complete the process. However, others say that the council is rushing a proposal through without proper traffic studies or a consideration for the long-term development of the area.