Welcome to the Preserve Annapolis Roads website.
Please check the Meeting Notices and Breaking News tabs above for the latest information and activities of PAR.
What is Preserve Annapolis Roads (PAR)?
PAR is a group of individual property owners who are exercising their individual legal rights to protect the restrictive covenants that were assigned to the Golf Course parcel within Annapolis Roads.
What are Preserve Annapolis Roads’ goals?
PAR intends t0
– ensure that all homeowners in Annapolis Roads understand the nature and intent of the covenants that restrict the use of the Golf Course parcel,
– educate and assist homeowners who choose to exercise their right to enforce those covenants,
– and ultimately to prevent any potential buyer of the Golf Course property from causing those covenants to be broken which will pave the way for uses which Annapolis Roads property owners feel are adverse to their enjoyment of the land and disruptive of the character of the community.
What is the purpose of the covenants?
The purpose of the covenants, as stated by Judge North in the 2006 decision against Plaintiff Ribera Development, LLC (developer John Stamato’s company), is to protect the quiet peace and enjoyment of the homeowners in the community, and to maintain the character of the community in accordance with the original common scheme and plan.
In her decision in 2006, Judge North found that “no material change in the physical condition of the golf course or the surrounding community had occurred eliminating the original reason for the restrictions . . . . The purpose of the covenant is today as it was in 1980.”
She also found that at no time did the Annapolis Roads community oppose St. Mary’s as a user or buyer of the Golf Course. The Judge added that “the Court has no doubt that [Annapolis Roads] would have opposed this project no matter who the proposed user was.”
Judge North confirmed that each individual homeowner had the right to vocalize their opposition to proposed uses of the Golf Course that they felt were in violation of the restrictive covenants.
In her decision in 2006, the proposed use of the land for athletic fields would create a “material change in the physical condition of the Golf Course,” and would result in significant grading. In addition, the decision found that the covenants existed to protect the Golf Course from uses that the community felt were “adverse to their enjoyment of that land, and to maintain the character of their community.”
Judge North further found that the community is entitled to oppose a sale or plan that it believes may harm the Annapolis Roads community.
What uses are allowed under the existing covenants?
Based on the 2006 opinion by Judge North, the uses allowed by the covenants are:
- As a Golf Course
- Other recreational uses
- Horticultural nurseries
- Conservation uses
- Accessory uses, including parking for the other uses
- Rights of way and/or easements to provide access to inaccessible areas
- Temporary and permanent structures for uses listed above
- No use
What could cause the restrictive covenants to be broken?
When and if there is a major change in neighborhood conditions, the restrictive covenant would be broken or “become unenforceable” under the doctrine of “changed conditions.” An example of changed conditions would be allowing “educational” use of the land, which is not stipulated in the covenants. If we allowed a purchaser to use the land for educational purposes, it would constitute a material change in conditions that would render the covenants meaningless and would violate the declaration of restriction on use of the Golf Course.
What happens if the covenants are broken?
If the restrictive covenants are broken, they are gone forever, and Annapolis Roads property owners will have no further say in the use of the property, no matter what the proposed use, whether it’s an athletic complex, a building, ball fields, townhomes, or houses. For example, a developer would have the right to build a subdivision, or other tract of homes, on the Golf Course property. There could be a petition to annex the property to the City of Annapolis, paving the way for less restrictive development than Anne Arundel County regulations allow.
How did the covenants come about?
In the early 1980’s, developers wanted to construct apartments on the Golf Course. The residents of Annapolis Roads strongly objected, saying they had been promised that the Golf Course would always remain Open Space for the benefit of the community. The restrictive covenants were a result of a legal settlement in which it was proven that Annapolis Roads had long ago established a common plan for the community which limits the use of land in Annapolis Roads to residential use.
In a settlement reached in 1986, after 13 years of litigation, ARPOA conveyed any property interest it had in the Golf Course in exchange for the recording of Restrictive Covenants, dated June 3, 1987 that would protect the quiet, residential character of the community. Among other matters, as part of the settlement, ARPOA was given title to the Overlook, subject to restriction to recreational use (specifically “community recreational use as parkland), and the Beach, subject to restriction against any permanent structures. The settlement also conveyed to developers the right, title and interest in what is now the Bayer property, subject to the restriction that it can only be used for residential purposes.
What is the proposed use of the Golf Course by the contracted buyers?
In the information that the buyers released to the public on November 9th, they stated their intentions to use the Golf Course as follows:
– for instructional purposes, specifically in support of the private school’s outdoor education, environmental studies and athletic programs,
– to serve as outdoor classrooms for students who are studying the environment and to provide space for outdoor education activities, and
– for playing fields to be used for after-school practices and games.
Key School’s proposed uses of the Golf Course to build athletic fields, as well as facilities for their athletic teams, in addition to other instructional purposes, are not permitted by the covenants. Nowhere in the covenants does it provide for institutional educational activities on the golf course. It is essential that we voice our opposition to any proposed use that violates and thus invalidates the covenants.
How might these uses constitute “changed conditions?”
Based on our experience with another potential buyer of the Golf Course, St. Mary’s School, the proposed uses would change the quiet residential character of our community, which could void the covenants by making them meaningless or ineffective. In other words, if a major change in the neighborhood conditions occurs such that enforcement of the restrictions would no longer provide substantial benefit to the homeowners in Annapolis Roads, the restrictive covenants would become unenforceable under the legal doctrine of changed conditions.
Why doesn’t the community know more?
The buyers did not openly discuss or present their plan to the community in advance of the purchase. Their representatives met with the chairman of the ARPOA Land Use Committee (which has since been de-commissioned) over the summer of 2011 and indicated possible interest in the property, but did not follow the agreed-upon protocol, or present plans to the committee. If they had, the committee would have presented those plans to the ARPOA Board.
How can the community find out what the plan is?
The ARPOA Board first met with Key School representatives on November 15, 2011 and presented their findings to the community at a community information-sharing meeting on Saturday, November 19th. Key School has not shared the updated contract or specific plans with the ARPOA board at this time. Contact any Board member for more information.
What are the environmental concerns with a change in use of the Golf Course?
The grading necessary to create athletic fields are a major concern. Approximately 1/2 of the Golf Course is within the Resource Conservation Area (RCA) which is the most restrictive and protected designation within the Critical Area. The remaining half of the golf course property is Open Space (OS) zoning which is also restrictive and allows for only very limited usage. The zoning restrictions from the RCA zone and the OS zone are in addition to those restrictions that were placed on the property by the Covenants.
Construction may impact the aquifers that feed Annapolis Roads’ wells, negatively affect the Ogleton Woods, and present other issues including truck traffic, noise and dirt. Toxic chemicals used in Golf Course maintenance could be unearthed, affecting air and water quality.
Is the County going to help?
Anne Arundel County’s watershed stewards are already involved, and have stated that they will work to prevent any treatment of the land that would adversely affect the watershed, or break any regulation or law that protects the watershed. The County Health Department will also be involved in any environmental threats that could affect the health of residents.
What can I do to support the restrictive covenants?
-Vocally oppose the use of the Golf Course land for athletic fields or educational purposes. Both proposed uses are inconsistent with our covenants. Either condition would materially change the conditions in the neighborhood, causing the covenants to be adversely affected, and opening the way for development or annexation.
-Join your neighbors who have pledged to oppose the proposed uses of the land, and attend PAR meetings, post a sign on your property, or volunteer to help distribute information to Annapolis Roads residents and the surrounding communities.
-Let ARPOA board members and officers know of your opposition to Key School’s stated uses.
-Donate to the PAR fund.