Four Calvert County residents filed suit against Calvert County over its new Comprehensive Plan last month.
The suit, which was filed Dec. 24, alleges that the county commissioners acted illegally in adopting the new comp plan on Aug. 6, 2019, because they didn’t have a public hearing before adopting a late amendment to the plan.
“Citizens did not have the ability to fully weigh in on or contest the amendment,” the suit states.
In addition, the suit says that Kelly D. McConkey (R) voted illegally by not recusing himself in the comp plan vote, which passed 3-2 with McConkey voting in the affirmative.
Several complaints against McConkey related to his comp plan vote have been filed with the county’s ethics commission. An investigation into the complaints apparently has not been completed yet, according to Dec. 17 emails between the Calvert Recorder and Ethics Commission chair Jennifer Mazur.
The comp plan lawsuit was filed by Towson attorney G. Macy Nelson on behalf of plaintiffs Susan Dzurec, Myra Gowans, Michael King and Phyllis Sherkus, each who own property in the county.
According to the suit, the Comp Plan update began in October 2017 and included three drafts prior to final adoption. It stated that McConkey was elected to represent the 3rd District shortly before the third draft began in December 2018.
The suit states that the amended version of the comp plan added a “select few plots of land, including McConkey’s recently purchased plots” in Huntingtown, 22 and 28 Cox Road, a nursery and the former Lomax TV. The amended version added McConkey’s plots into the Huntingtown Town Center.
The suit says McConkey recused himself from comp plan votes on April 30 and June 25, 2019. A 2-2 vote on June 25 resulted in the plan being tabled “indefinitely” prior to its approval on Aug. 6, the suit states.
According to the suit, three exceptions to the state’s recusal law for conflicts of interest include situations where the official is needed to vote to provide a quorum, is required by law to vote or is the only one authorized to act. None applied to McConkey in the comp plan vote, the suit states.
In addition, the suit states that the ethics commission requires elected officials to recuse if they have an interest in the matter or if it would have a direct or indirect financial impact on the official.
In an Aug. 9 story in the Calvert Recorder, McConkey said that adding his properties to the Huntingtown Town Center doesn’t change the value of the land. “There’s no proof anywhere that it changes the value,” he said. “It doesn’t change the tax assessment.” According to the state Department of Assessments and Taxation website, Kelly and Kimberly McConkey purchased the two properties on July 9, 2012, and Feb. 24, 2015, respectively, for $300,000 and $400,000. The properties were assessed on Jan. 1, 2019, for $205,800 and $435,400. 22 Cox Road is 5.26 acres, and 28 Cox Road is 16,117 square feet, including a 2,600-square-foot building.
Also, in the Aug. 9 story, McConkey said that the county planning commission had included his properties — located northeast of Route 4 and Cox Road — in the Huntingtown Town Center before he was elected, but ended up removing them during an emergency meeting that did not include three commission members. If all commission members had been present, McConkey said his properties would not have been removed.
The county has 30 days to respond to the suit after being served. According to county records, an electronic summons was created Dec. 30 for County Attorney John Norris.