BALTIMORE — The lawsuit filed May 12 in Somerset County Circuit Court by the owner of the former Pines Motel against Crisfield and several of its officials was closed after it was removed to U.S. District Court at the request of the defendants.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett is giving the city until July 29 to respond to complaints alleged by property owner Rt. 30 Auto & Truck Sales LLC and leveled against the city, now-former City Inspector Dean Bozman, now-former Mayor Barry Dize, and Clerk Treasurer Joyce Morgan.
The Laurel-based limited liability company, managed by Timothy Dyson, claims the defendants violated its rights and “tortiously interfered” with the business by denying its continued use as a motel.
Because the LLC is based in Delaware, the property is in Maryland, and Bozman now resides in Virginia, the attorneys for the defendants “by virtue of the diversity of citizenship of the parties” sought removal of the case to federal court.
Rt. 30 Auto & Truck Sales purchased in May 2021 what was then known as Crisfield Budget Inn from J, M&M Corporation. During the prior year, however, the former owners had limited business activity due to the coronavirus pandemic and because of executive orders issued by Gov. Larry Hogan.
The plaintiff contends that while there was an operating loss, the property “remained a motel throughout that time.” And when Mr. Dyson sought to be permitted to open the motel under his ownership the city inspector “refused to sign the license,” alleging the statement was made that “Mr. Dyson will never open the motel.”
The city’s position is based on the zoning code that provides if a nonconforming use exists and “ceases for any reason for a period of more than 12 months” future uses must conform to the requirements of that zoning district. The motel, located at 127 N. Somerset Avenue, is considered nonconforming in a Residential R-2 medium density zone although it has been around since the 1960s and at one time included a restaurant and cocktail lounge.
The attorneys for the city are Kimberly Limbrick and Emily Joicoeur with Crosswhite, Limbrick & Sinclair LLP in Baltimore. Representing the property owner is attorney Ruth Ann Azeredo of Annapolis.