developer is actually ending up in a better situation by
violating the law than [it] would by obeying the law," said
Richard Abbott, lawyer for Paladin Club Master Association, one
of the community's maintenance organizations.
not so, said James Edwards, inspections manager for the
department and hearing officer presiding over proceedings
stemming for the development firm's alleged violations of county
regulations and enforcing a subsequent stop-work order blocking
removal of remaining portions of the wall. "They (the
development firm) aren't better off; they haven't been cut a
break," he said.
Village, a unit of Pettinaro Construction, hired a contractor to
take down the wall after Paladin resident Roy Jackson asked the
county Historic Review Board to reverse an earlier decision and
look into the structure's possible historic significance. That
is key because the board could delay and possibly block approval
of the development firm's plan to construct some townhouses if
it determines that the wall is historic and should not be
wall has been more than disturbed at this point, the situation
could pave the way for the board to order, apparently for the
first time, restoration of an historic structure.
event, the board has reconsidered its earlier decision and will
take up the matter at its April meeting, a land use
administrative hearing on Mar. 3 was told.
Village was previously ordered to retain possession of the
stones that were removed and Edwards renewed that instruction as
a proviso for approving the stabilization plan. He said no
additional stones can be removed, except for any that are now
"just lying around." Moreover, he acknowledged in an official
proceeding, that the firm could be instructed to restore the
wall if it is later found to have violated Unified Development
Code provisions regarding subdivision approval. To that end, he
ordered that an engineer document the exact position at which
the base of the wall stood.
stand at this point, Edgewood Village has been found to have
violated a regulation that requires a permit for disturbance of
more than 5,000 square feet of land. The firm has been fined
$200, which its president, Michael Walsh, told Edwards at the
hearing has not yet been paid. Edwards ordered that to be
done before he and the department will sign off on the plan.
minor modifications of the stabilization plan were also ordered
as a condition for its approval.
post-hearing session with Abbott and Paladin residents, who were
not permitted to participate in the hearing itself, Edwards
described the plan as minimal. Referring to the possibility of
restoring the wall, he said that by rejecting a more extensive
earlier plan "I preserved the capability of doing just that."
turned down Edwards's invitation to remain for the informal
post-hearing discussion. He has repeatedly ignored requests from
Delaforum and other media for comments on the situation.
will be allowed to remove the cliff created by removal of the
wall and even off a relatively small area near the bottom of the
hill at a ratio of one foot of height for each three linier
feet. That, Edwards, said would allow replacing the wall in its
original position and filling with dirt behind it.
put the dirt back in and recreate the wall exactly like it was,"
claimed that the cliff could be preserved and erosion prevented
by installation of a strong silt fence. Silt fences, which are
now common at construction sites, are strips of porous plastic
which hold back solid material but permit flowing water to pass
hillside is regraded, albeit in a small area, "chances that the
wall will go back up become less and less," Abbott said.
point he said there is a possibility that he and his client, the
maintenance organization, will seek a Chancery Court injunction
to prevent execution of the stabilization plan if the county
approves it. Approval could come as early as Mar. 8 and Walsh
told Edwards that the work could be arranged and completed in
about two week after approval.
points that could yet impact the approval decision were raised
at the post-hearing session.
said that stabilization could result in removal of several
mature trees in addition to those already taken down. They are
not only part of the community ambiance residents were promised
when they bought their condominium units but also are "historic
treasures" in their own right, he said. The Sellers family, on
whose former estate the Paladin community stands, collected
varieties of trees from around the world.
can't tell them to replace the [original] trees. When they're
gone, they're gone," Abbott said.
Marie Sims said that, as a purchaser of two of the original
condominium units from the development firm that preceded
Edgewood Village, she was granted ownership rights to Paladin
Drive and a portion of the base of the hillside, which were
defined in the original development plan as community common
she regarded it as being within her rights to deny Edgewood
Village access to "my property" to fulfill a stabilization plan
to which she objects.
agreed to refer that and other points raised during the session
to the county Law Department for consideration before he makes
his final ruling on the plan.