Victory for Springfield Farm and Other Local, Family-owned Farms

Springfield Farm in northern Baltimore County received another victory last week from the Maryland Court of Appeals, which has denied a Writ of Certiorari filed by the People’s Counsel of Baltimore County. The Maryland Court of Appeals declined the People’s Counsel request for review of the opinion issued on February 6, 2013 by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, which granted approval for the poultry farm’s owners to open a “farmer’s roadside stand” within a barn proposed to be constructed on the property.

Springfield Farm, owned and operated by the Smith family on Yeoho Road for 17 generations, will continue to sell its locally produced poultry and egg products directly to the public from the farm.

“We are very pleased with today’s ruling from the Maryland Court of Appeals,” said Lawrence E. Schmidt of Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, the Smith family’s zoning attorney. “This is yet another victory for Springfield Farm and other local family-owned and operated farms who count on the patronage of customers in the community to survive. It’s also a win for Baltimore County residents, who can purchase fresh, local food items directly from the source.”

The decision ends years of a contentious dispute between the Smith family and some of its neighbors over the roadside stand. In order for the proposed barn/stand to be approved under County zoning law, the Smiths needed to demonstrate that the operation could be conducted without detrimental impact to the health, safety and general welfare of the neighborhood. Additionally, under the County’s complex zoning ordinance, the Smith family was required to demonstrate that the proposed stand was legitimately accessory to the underlying farming operation, with at least fifty percent of the products being sold therefrom raised on the property or adjacent farms managed by the Smith family.

The February decision by the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the decision of the Board of Appeals of Baltimore County, which had previously approved the request. The proposal had also been approved by the Zoning Commissioner of Baltimore County, before an appeal to the Board of Appeals. The Board’s decision was itself appealed to the Circuit Court of Baltimore County and was reversed by the written decision of Judge Susan Souder. However, the Court of Special Appeals reversed Judge Souder’s decision and reinstated the findings and conclusions of the Board. The appellate court concluded that the proposed stand was accessory to the day-to-day agricultural activities of Springfield Farm and met all of the other requirements of law.

About Smith, Gildea & Schmidt:

Smith, Gildea & Schmidt is a regional law firm with 13 lawyers whose practice areas include complex civil litigation, land use, estates and trusts, False Claims Act (whistleblower) litigation, business law, governmental affairs, and domestic relations, among others. The firm’s clients range from multinational corporations to individuals with particular legal needs. The practice encompasses most of the jurisdictions in the State of Maryland and the complex civil litigation section has vast courtroom experience in both the federal and state courts.

Hunt Valley Patch