Board of Appeals Enters Judgment Against Developer in Chestnut Ridge Golf Course Reclassification Case


The Baltimore County Board of Appeals has declined to reverse the decision of the County Council to rezone the former Chestnut Ridge Country Club property enacted during the 2012 quadrennial Comprehensive Zoning Map Process (CZMP).  This will leave the developable density for the property at a maximum of 9 houses.


In 2012 the County Council changed the zoning of the 232 acre former Chestnut Ridge Country Club property from RC5 (maximum development) to RC7 (environmental preservation). Shortly thereafter, the owner of the property, hoping to subdivide the Property into as many as 85 lots, petitioned the County to reclassify the Property to RC5, claiming that the County Council’s action was a mistake.

Last summer, after the developer finally finished putting on all its evidence, the Community asked the County Board of Appeals to dismiss the Petition. The Community argued that, even if the Board accepted all the evidence as true, the developer could not prevail.

This morning the three member Board panel deliberated in public. The non-lawyer member stated that he thought the Petitioner’s evidence was overwhelming and that he was convinced the Council’s decision to change the zoning of the property was wrong and should be changed.

The next member of the Board to speak said that, although he basically agreed with the first speaker, as a Maryland lawyer, he understood the law, in particular the 1995 Beachwood case (107 Md. App. 627), to be clear and controlling and that the BOA was not permitted to reclassify the zoning of the Property.

The Board chair, Maureen Murphy, Esquire, then spoke at length. She summarized relevant MD law, emphasizing the instructions of the Beachwood case:

— the BOA “may not substitute its judgment for that of the County Council,”

— even a finding by BOA that the zoning decision “of the County Council under review was wrong, ill-advised, or unsuitable is not an adequate finding of an actual mistake or error,”

— the burden is on the Petitioner “to show both 1) the then-existing conditions that allegedly made the comprehensive zoning incorrect and also 2) the literal failure of the County Council even to have considered those conditions,”

— It is presumed that at the time of the adoption of zoning, “the Council had before it and did, in fact, consider all of the relevant facts and circumstances then existing.”

Accordingly, the Board voted 2 to 1 to grant the Motions and enter Judgment against the developer. The developer may, of course, appeal the decision. Moreover, the developer is asserting tremendous pressure on the County Executive, Council, and particularly 2nd District Council Member Vicky Almond to allow the destruction of this incredibly beautiful and environmentally sensitive land.

Chestnut Ridge Country Club 2nd Community Input Meeting


Monday, November 4th, at 7 P.M.,

About the meeting

The second & final Community Input Meeting (“CIM”) addressing the communities concerns about the proposed housing development of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club Property.

This meeting Is your opportunity to learn the impact that this proposed development will have on our roads, our wells, our streams, and our environment and to voice your opinion!

Be there or do not complain this time next year when this travesty can’t be undone.

The Meeting Is Open to the Public.

Your attendance will make a difference!


Mays Chapel United Methodist Church

11911 Jenifer Road, Timonium, MD, 21093

Chestnut Ridge Country Club community update – October 2013


As many of you know, the Valleys Planning Council, along with the Falls Road Community Association and a number of organizations and individuals, supported the downzoning of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property during the 2012 CZMP. The 232-acre property on Falls Road just sought of Padonia/Broadway was ultimately downzoned from RC5 to RC7, and that downzoning is now being challenged. The issue is a hot one, with battles on multiple fronts. During the rezoning cycle, Councilwoman Vicki Almond received an outpouring of calls, letters and emails regarding the property and made the courageous decision to downzone the property in an effort to protect Dipping Pond Run and curb the pressure on existing infrastructure already bursting at the seams. Those that support the new, more restrictive zoning are joining together to oppose an attempt to undo the zoning change and reinstate the former RC5 zoning. We hope you will join us in these efforts to maintain the more restrictive RC7 zoning. We believe our case is strong and that the evidence is clear that there was no error committed on the part of the Baltimore County Council. Below is a brief summary of what has transpired and what is coming next.


November 2011

Chestnut Ridge Country Club, a 230-acre property on Falls Road, closed after 50 years of operation.

February 2012

Chestnut Ridge Country Club purchased by Armando Cignarale, a local developer who runs Cignal Corp. The property was purchased for $5.3 million with no contingencies regarding its future development.

August 2012

Baltimore County Council downzoned the Chestnut Ridge Country Club Property, changing the zoning from RC5 to RC7. This changed the maximum residential density from 114 homes to 9 homes.

December 2012

Owner/developer of CRCC filed suit against Baltimore County in the Circuit Court, suing for $10 million and a return to the RC5 zoning. In May 2013, the Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit after the county argued that the developer should have exhausted the county’s administrative appeals process first.

February 2013

Owner/developer of CRCC filed a Petition for Reclassification with the Baltimore County Board of Appeals, claiming that the County Council made an error in changing the zoning on the property from RC5 to RC7.

 June 2013

Adopting the position of the Baltimore County planning staff, the County Planning Board advised the County Board of Appeals that the County Council made an error in downzoning the property. The Planning Board brushed aside Maryland law and legal arguments with regard to the magnitude of “error” required to justify reclassification overriding the County Council’s vote. Instead the Planning Board simply reiterated its recommendation during the 2012 CZMP that the zoning should be maintained as RC5.

Upcoming Actions

October 2013

The case before the Board of Appeals will begin. The hearing will open on October 30; however, the developer’s attorneys have said they plan to open the case, file an amended petition, and ask for a delay until December.

October 28, 2013

The developer and county will hold a Community Input Meeting at 7 p.m. on a proposed 8-lot plan under the existing RC7 zoning. The meeting was scheduled for the same date and time as the FRCA annual meeting. (The developer hopes to go forward with a 60-70 lot plan if he can get the zoning changed, but this is an interim or fallback plan that could be approved under the current zoning.) The meeting will be held at the Mays Chapel Methodist Church on Jennifer Road in Timonium.

November 4, 2013

The developer and county will hold a second Community Input Meeting at 7 p.m. on a proposed 8-lot plan under the existing RC7 zoning. The meeting will be held at the Mays Chapel Methodist Church on Jennifer Road in Timonium. A second meeting was scheduled due to the conflict with the FRCA meeting.

December 2013

The Board of Appeals case goes forward. Dates scheduled for the hearing are: December 10, 11, 17, and 18.

You Can Help

Many residents took the time to contact Councilwoman Almond during the 2012 CZMP to express their concern about future development of the property and requesting a downzoning. Your continued expressions of support are needed. Our most pressing need at the moment is to raise funds for the legal and expert fees associated with the upcoming Board of Appeals hearing. Please consider sending in a tax-deductible contribution to the VPC for this project today. We need to raise $15,000 in the next six weeks to see us through this first and most important phase. If everyone who is concerned chips in, we will have sufficient resources. Special project contributions are used exclusively for legal and expert fees associated with the case. VPC has engaged the services of attorney Richard Burch for the zoning reclassification case.

Please make a tax-deductible donation to this special project today by sending a check to:

The Valleys Planning Council

PO Box 5402

Towson, Maryland 20185

Write “Chestnut Ridge” in check memo line.


Referendum to Overturn All District 2 CZMP Decisions (which would restore RC5 to Chestnut Ridge)

On a related front, VPC has joined with several other groups to oppose the Referendum initiative that has been spearheaded by the developers opposed to the Solo Cup site redevelopment known as Foundry Row. Several developers displeased with zoning changes in the last cycle are supporting that effort. Those seeking the Referendum hope to put an issue on the 2014 election ballot with the goal of overturning all District 2 CZMP decisions. If the referendum were successful, the changes to Chestnut Ridge and other zoning changes in District 2 would be overturned, restoring the prior zoning.

Many residents reported questionable tactics and misleading information during the petition drive. The Board of Elections found the petitions “deficient” and denied the request to put the item to referendum. Those seeking the referendum have filed an appeal of that decision with the Circuit Court. The VPC and other parties have filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, believing that the parties filing the appeal do not have standing. The Circuit Court case has been assigned to Judge Alexander. A scheduling conference is set for October 23rd and a Motions Hearing is set for November 26 at 9:30 a.m. Attorney J. Carroll Holzer is representing the VPC, the Meadows HOA, and the Greater Greenspring Association. VPC is not requesting funds for the referendum case but is very much in need of funds for the reclassification case. 

For additional info, call the Valleys Planning Council office at 401-337-6877.

FRCA Annual Dinner – October 28, 2013


You are cordially invited to the Falls Road Community Association annual dinner on Monday, October 28, 2013, at the Oregon Ridge Lodge.

  • 5:50 – cocktails (beer and wine)
  • 6:30 – buffet dinner
  • 7:15 – meeting

Cocktails, dinner, and the meeting for only $10.00 per person

Come and hear about important events in the community such as zoning and land use issues such as the development of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club and the Mays Chapel Elementary School.

Our guest speaker will be the renowned environmentalist, writer, and journalist, Mr. Tom Horton.

Invite your neighbors!  Give them a copy of our community notice in local papers with all of the details.


The dinner will be followed by a meeting including updates from the Board of Directors and a talk by Mr. Horton.

Tom Horton is a renowned environmentalist and long-time champion of the environment in Maryland.  He is an award winning author of eight books about the Chesapeake Bay and is best known as a Baltimore Sun columnist from 1972 to 2006.

Questions and issues of importance to the members of the community association will be addressed as well.

RSVP to the Dinner

To reserve your place at the dinner, please send $10.00 per person along with your name, address, and phone number to:


PO Box 555

Brooklandville, MD 21022

Please make checks payable to “The FRCA”.

For more information, please call Carol at (410) 252-8662.

Please RSVP by October 21st.

View Larger Map

Vicki Almond saves former Chestnut Ridge Country Club property!

Almond and Council Approve Downzoning of CRCC Property

From the office of Council Chairwoman Almond:

Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, along with the rest of Council APPROVE downzoning of the property formerly owned by Chestnut Ridge Country Club from RC5 to RC7.


The RC7 designation allows for much less dense development than would have otherwise been permitted under RC5. After extensive research into the environmental concerns related to this property, along with the vast amount of community input received by my office, the decision became clear. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for your input and suggestions along the way.




Vicki Almond

Baltimore County Council

2nd District

Please contact Council Chairwoman Almond to express your thanks and gratitude for the time and careful consideration invested by her and her staff to understand the salient issues of the property, listen to the concerns of the community and her constituents, and make a decision that is nothing more than applying the longstanding zoning regulations which Baltimore County has adopted as law, but unfortunately does not always adhere to.

Please attend the CZMP vote on Chestnut Ridge CC – August 28, 2012

The Falls Road Community Association

Cordially invites you

To Witness a Potential Miracle

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In the Council Chambers in the Old Courthouse

At 400 Washington Avenue in Towson!


More than 600 residents of our area have contacted our Councilwoman Vicki Almond via petitions, letters, emails, meetings, and calls encouraging her to preserve the integrity of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club (CRCC) property by rezoning it to RC7.

Because of this extraordinary effort our community is counteracting the influence of well_financed interests that seek to develop the CRCC property at a density that would do irreparable damage to the property’s extended ecosystem and change the character of the Falls Road Corridor for the worse and forever.

We Have Made Good Progress, but this Battle Is Far from Over. 

Ms Almond knows the Club property is environmentally valuable and vulnerable, and she wants to preserve it.  Ms Almond is well aware of the damage our community will sustain if the housing density on Club property is maximized, and she wants to spare us that damage.  In sum, Ms Almond wants to serve us, her constituents, she wants to vote to change the zoning of the Club property to RC7 as a resource preservation zone.

Ms. Almond’s final decision is only a few days away – and we cannot let up.  Pressure on Ms Almond to back off and let the land be destroyed is enormous.  Thus, it will take a miracle for Ms Almond to retain her political independence and do what should be done.

Make it happen….       Do your part……..

Contact Vicki Almond Again!

Visit on the web

Or directly at

telephone:  410-887-3385        fax:   410-887-5791

So, please join us waiting for a miracle at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

in the County Council Chambers in the Old Courthouse in Towson.

Residents urge Councilwoman Almond for RC7 status for the Chestnut Ridge Country Club

Presidents’s Message: Residents Contact Councilwoman Almond in support of RC7 zoning for the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property

With a stroke of her pen, on August 28, 2012 our County Council representative and President  Vicki Almond can preserve more land in District 2 than Dutch Ruppersberger, Jim Smith and Kevin Kamenetz combined multiplied by 1000. The 232 acres that were Chestnut Ridge Country Club abound in streams, ponds, springs and wetlands. By zoning that land RC7, which is plainly the proper classification, Ms Almond can preserve most of that subwatershed, spare our roads 40-60 houses of traffic, spare our water table 40-60 wells to compete with ours, give Dipping Pond Run a chance to survive, and possibly save the Falls Road community. With that same act, Ms Almond would become our first Council representative to place the well-being of her constituents above loyalty to the politicians in Towson and their developer financiers. Below are samples of the 500+ messages from constituents to Ms. Almond via

Harold Burns, President

Contact Councilwoman Almond

Please contact Councilwoman Vicki Almond to express your support for rezoning the former Chestnut Ridge Country Club Property to RC-7 to reduce the building density, reduce the impact on existing wells in the area, reduce traffic congestion, and preserve the character of the community.


Councilwoman Vicki Almond

Old Court House

400 Washington Ave.

Towson, MD, 21204

Letters from the community

07/11/12 – Dear Councilperson Almond,

The prospective development of the property formerly owned by the Chestnut Ridge Country Club (CRCC) raises great concerns for those of us who live in the Falls Road corridor. We believe the property zoning is RC-7 because we have had issues with our well, along with several of our neighbors. Depletion of the water table with any more development will hurt the entire Falls Road corridor. Our entire neighborhood (Springhill Farm) is against further development in this area. It is almost impossible to drive down Falls Road in the morning and the traffic at Falls and Padonia/Broadway is always backed up. Sincerely, Rusty & Michelle


06/27/12 – Councilman Almond,

We have been living at this address for about eight years. Our water flow has diminished greatly in those years. I blame the lower flow of water on the amount of recent development in the Falls Road area. Pretty soon at this rate, we will be out of water for our homes!!!! I am requesting a down zoning to RC-7. Sincerely, Susan K.

Continue reading

Baltimore Sun article: Neighbors fight to preserve golf club land

The Baltimore Sun published an informative article on Sunday, July 8, 2012 regarding the community efforts to downzone (reduce the housing density) of the development on the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property, citing environmental impacts as well as the quality of life issues that will occur if the present zoning remains.

The article details considerable community support for having Councilwoman Vicki Almond  downzone the property to RC-7 (approximately 10 houses permitted on the property) through the quadrennial CZMP process.

Contact Councilwoman Vicki Almond to express your thoughts on the matter: (410) 887-3885 or launched to preserve the Chestnut Country Club property

The issue

Recently, the Chestnut Ridge Country Club folded and a developer bought the mortgage and took title to the land.  The developer potentially can place up to 100 homes on this land and destroy the environmental buffer that protects the last trout stream in the Jones Falls Watershed and its surrounding wooded valley that protects a unique watershed and ecosystem.  Intense development of this land means up to another 200 vehicles crowding falls road, creating traffic gridlock at its failing intersections and placing additional financial stress on the county budget.  Intense development will generate up to 100 new wells, putting your own wells at risk.  The bulldozing of this land for another 100 houses will destroy the rural nature of our community and your property values!

Map of Chestnut Ridge Country Club property and number of homes

Too many homes for the Chestnut Ridge Country Club property

The County Council is presently considering the down-zoning of the 232 acres from RC-5  (rural residential) to RC-7 (resource  preservation) as part of the comprehensive zoning map process that takes place every four years.  In December 2011, Councilperson Vicki Almond, your Council member in the Second District, introducedComprehensive Zoning Map process issue #2-031 to address the appropriateness of the existing RC-5 zoning in light of the sale of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club.   According to the County Code, the purpose and intent of RC-7 is resource preservation, more specifically to protect and preserve valuable cultural, historical, recreational and environmental resources through a low-density rural zone.

Take action

There is only one way to have the property zoned RC-7.  That is to have the District 2 Councilperson, Ms. Vicki Almond, make the request through the CZMP process at the end of the summer.

What will impact her making her decision is hearing from you.

Please go to, educate yourself on the issue, and contact Ms. Almond (there’s an easy link to send her an e-mail), and keep going back to and to follow the progress, get updates, and participate in having your community the retain the character that attracted us in the first place.

Proposed Columbia Gas Expansion Will Have Significant Impact To Area


Earlier this year, several households in the community received letters from Columbia Gas Transmission regarding possible planned work involving existing gas easements on our properties. Many of us did not initially pay a great deal of attention since the rights of way are well known and we have come to expect a certain amount of maintenance and disruption from time to time. However it turns out this is a much more expansive project than was indicated by the letter.

Much to our dismay, during several outreach meetings held by the company, we discovered that Columbia Gas is in the early stages of Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) approval for permanently doubling the width of the existing easement from 25 feet to 50 feet over the course of 21.3 miles from Owings Mills to Fallston in order to lay a new 26 inch diameter pipeline. This is a $150M extension as part of a massive multi-billion dollar interstate project to increase pipeline redundancy from the Gulf States to the Northeast. Their plan states that construction would disturb about 300 acres of land for this portion of the project. Preliminary work would start late fall 2012, with heavy construction running from late spring through October 2013. The proposed plan, which is in the pre-filing stage at the FERC can be found under Docket No. PF12-6-000 at

A very useful summary can be found at the Federal Register including specific directions for how to file a comment or concern.  Please note that the filing period ends on May 16, 2012.

Impact to the Falls Road Corridor

The path of the pipeline goes directly through many private residential and public properties in the Falls Road community: from  Greenspring, across Falls Road just south of Ridge Road, through Oregon Ridge Park, and through Hayfields before continuing  Northeast toward Harford County.  Not only does Columbia Gas propose permanently doubling the size of the easements, but the following impacts are expected:

  • Temporary easements along most of the pipeline in addition to the new permanent easements in order to build temporary roads and stage and store construction equipment, with a total width of up to 125 feet during construction.
  • Possible blasting through granite in residential neighborhoods.
  • Dawn to dusk construction, 6 days per week.
  • Possible destruction of existing homes, septic systems, wells, pools, sheds, and other structures to make way for the pipeline.
  • Extensive clear cutting and destruction of mature trees on the temporary easements and new permanent easements.

Community Input

Given that this is an interstate project subject to federal regulations, Columbia Gas is required to go through a certain number of reviews before final approval is given by the FERC. The project is currently in the scoping stage, which formally ends on May 16, 2012. There will be two meetings held by FERC representatives soliciting community input on environmental concerns:

  • May 8, 2012 7:00 PM EDT, Oregon Ridge Lodge, 13401 Beaver Dam Rd, Cockeysville 21030
  • May 9, 2012 7:00 PM EDT, Youth’s Benefit Elementary School Cafeteria, 1901 Fallston Rd., Fallston 21047

Those interested should review the plan available online under Docket No. PF12-6-000 at, and plan to attend one of the meetings.  It is vitally import that the FERC sees community responsiveness first hand.

Consequences of Inaction

The likely consequences of a lack of community responsiveness to this project are long term and severe. If the FERC approves the project, then Columbia Gas will be granted eminent domain. Once that happens the community will have no recourse, and they will be able to condemn properties deemed uncooperative. We all have invested too much in maintaining the pristine nature of our local environment to stand by while the federal government and an out of state company plows through our countryside at will. Please show your support by attending one of the meetings above and contacting your local, state, and federal representatives to voice your concerns.

Take Action

If anyone would like more information on local opposition to the Columbia Gas pipeline expansion, please contact Rich Scheper at, 410-561-1290.

Online Resources

To search the FERC document database for this docket, including official documents from Columbia Gas, FERC, and public input:

  1. Go to the Documents and Filings general search page on the FERC site.
  2. Change the Date Range to be from 1/1/2012 to the current date.
  3. Enter the Docket Number: PF12-6
  4. Submit your search request.

To submit comments or concerns:

  1. Go to the Documents and Filings eComment page.
  2. Follow the process to create an account and file a comment.
  3. Your comment will be included in the official record.