Judge Dwyer found that the BZA committed no legal errors in their denial. He did not, as PATH had hoped he would, attempt to second-guess the BZA or make any decision on whether the Special Exception should have been permitted by the Board.
"The Board utilized the substantial evidence presented to it, along with the arguments of those involved, as well as the Board's own personal knowledge stemming from a site visit to the proposed location to reach its conclusion. The substantial evidence before the Board rendered the issue fairly debatable, being sufficient enough to allow reasonable persons to reach different conclusions on the issue. Therefore, the Board's conclusion that the use of the subject property as proposed is not consistent with the purpose and intent of the Comprehensive Plan is not to be disturbed."
Some may have thought the BZA was being too tough on citizens during the marathon hearings, however the Board's actions were fair and kept strictly within the law, and that dogged adherence to the letter of the law is the basis for Judge Dwyer's decision.
"The Board's decision, denying Petitioner's special exception application, is supported by legally sufficient evidence. The Board properly considered all of the statutory factors required by the Code. There was sufficient evidence presented to make the grant or denial of the special exception fairly debatable. Therefore, the Court will not disturb the Board's ruling absent a showing of fraud. No showing of fraud has been alleged and therefore the Board's ruling, which is supported by legally sufficient evidence, should be affirmed."
Apparently size did matter to Judge Dwyer, too:
"Put simply the proposed substation is huge; it is larger than the size of the Pentagon building and measures approximately the length of 32 football fields, with towers that are higher than the Statue of Liberty."
This makes the fourth resounding defeat for PATH in Frederick County, Maryland. PATH made a really stupid decision to attempt to site the terminus in a county with zoning laws. The company needs to come to grips with their stupidity and discontinue this farce of continuing, lengthy and expensive appeals for a project that is no longer needed. It costs PATH nothing to continue to legally harass and attempt to financially break the PATH opposition groups in Frederick County. All of PATH's legal costs are recoverable through their FERC Formula Rate as capital expenditures earning 12.4% return yearly. However, PATH knows that its project is heading like greased lightning toward a contentious federal abandonment battle where they must prove that their expenditures were prudent. There is no prudence in continuing this pointless battle. Any other prudently-run business would fold their hand at this point.
We all owe a big "thank you" to the leadership of CAKES and Sugarloaf Conservancy, who not only did a superb job presenting their case before the BZA, but also had to contend with ensuring that their legal professionals were fully funded throughout this long, drawn out battle. You guys deserve a medal!
Victory... how sweet it is!