In 2013, plans to build a 1,510-unit development in Monrovia caused public outrage from concerned citizens.
The development, named "Monrovia Town Center," would sit at the intersection of Md. 75 and Md. 80 and could triple the population of the small town.
At the public hearing for the development in October, over 150 individuals offered public comment. Most of the speakers opposed the development, which they believed would negatively impact Monrovia's rural character and overcrowd the town’s schools.
The protesters formed their own advocacy group, Residents Against Landsdale Expansion (RALE), headed by Monrovia resident and current Council Member Steve McKay.
They were right about one thing for sure: the development would cause crowding in schools and therefore failed the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance school test. The developers, 75-80 Properties LLC and Payne Investments LLC, would have to pay $20.6 million in school impact fees and $14.3 million in school mitigation fees, in addition to $621,307 for road improvements if the plans were approved.
The story didn’t end in 2013. This was just the beginning of a yearslong legal battle.
In April 2014, the Frederick County Board of Commissioners approved the Monrovia Town Center plans when they agreed to rezone the 392 acres from agricultural to planned unit development. Several commissioners insisted that the development would “pay for itself,” and the introduction of new tax-paying residents would benefit the town.
Then, the story got messier in September 2015, when the commissioners voted to hear the case again from the beginning. RALE asked a Frederick County Circuit Court judge to take up the case again, on the basis that a letter from the Frederick Area Committee for Transportation (FACT) entered into the record before the initial vote had tainted the process.
The letter was signed by the entire FACT board but only written by two members. More importantly, Paul Smith, a commissioner and the county’s liaison to FACT, had initially asked the organization to write the letter, which voiced support for the development. Smith voted to approve the plans for Monrovia Town Center.
After the developers sued the County for $500,000 in 2016 and then reached a settlement, the County Council asked the Circuit Court to take “whatever action necessary” so the council could reconsider the case from its beginning. A judge granted them the opportunity in October 2017.
Eventually, the case ended up at the Appellate Court, Maryland’s second-highest court, in November of 2018, and the Maryland Special Court of Appeals just last year. The Special Court of Appeals held up the decision to nullify the 2014 agreement between the county and the developers.
As it stands, it looks like the development won't be moving into Monrovia anytime soon.