OCEAN PINES – The Maryland Court of Special Appeals delivered what is likely the final blow to the Ocean Pines Association’s claim on a property ownership case against the Mid-Delmarva YMCA when it upheld the circuit court’s finding against the home owners association.
Robin Cockey, attorney for the Mid-Delmarva YMCA, said that while he was pleased with the ruling, he was disappointed it took so much time and money to settle a contract dispute.
The dispute stemmed from a deal wherein the YMCA received donation of a property abutting the OPA with the proviso that the YMCA obtain a building permit for the property within five years. After that time, if the YMCA hadn’t the property would come into the possession of the OPA.
While the OPA operated under the assumption that unless the Mid-Delmarva YMCA built a facility they’d get the property, the YMCA understood that so long as they made the attempt, which they did, it would be sufficient.
Permitting and other problems plagued the project and as a result the Mid-Delmarva YMCA secured a building permit for a wildlife observation platform to live up to their end of the contract. The OPA believed that was inconsistent with the contract, sued, lost the suit and then appealed the loss to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Earlier this month the court heard arguments from both sides and last week issued their ruling in favor of the Mid-Delmarva YMCA.
“I’m obviously very disappointed, but that’s the ruling of the court,” said OPA president Tom Terry. “We’ll have to see what our options are.”
The options, according to Cockey, aren’t many. The OPA may appeal the decision to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest judicial body, but like the United States Supreme Court, they can choose which cases they hear.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals is a court of right, which means that anyone who loses in circuit court and wishes to be heard must be. The Maryland Court of Appeals only hears litigation where the plaintiff both makes a convincing case that the Court of Special Appeals was mistaken and that mistake’s resolution has a wide public interest.
In other words, the OPA has to convince the court that prior contract interpretation rules are in error, not only that this particular contract was interpreted incorrectly, according to Cockey. He said that about one in five cases submitted are heard by the court and acceptance for a hearing indicates nothing of a cases merit or lack thereof.
“The issues of this case are rather mundane,” he said. “You never know but…I assume this is the end.”
Terry said the board will still consult with council to see if proceeding is both practical and providential and will likely render their own decision on the matter at the next OPA board meeting.
“I need to be informed now as to what the steps are and the cost associated and go from there,” he said.