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Annapolis Roads Residents File Amended Complaint Against Key School

The private school's neighbors want to stop a plan to turn a golf course into athletic fields, tennis courts and a parking lot.

Residents of the Annapolis Roads Community have submitted an amended complaint to stop the development of the Annapolis Golf Club by the Key School.

The private school for grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade wants to transform the nine-hole golf course into an array of athletic fields, tennis courts, maintenance buildings and a 103-car parking lot. Neighbors of the school oppose the development contending it violates retrictive covenants on the property.

The school announced plans to purchase the golf course in November 2011. Annapolis Roads residents Pamela and Chester Buckenmaier III and Patricia and Gregory Strott responded weeks later with a lawsuit against the Key School and golf course owners George and Linda Graefe.

"I want to be very clear: we have nothing against Key School," said Chester Buckenmaier. "It’s a historic community that was designed to be certain way."

In July, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul Goetzke sent the original complaint back to the Annapolis Roads residents, saying they must show how the proposed athletic fields would harm their community before he will consider granting injunctive relief.

Development of the property is restricted by a legal document that the golf course's previous owner signed with the community in 1987 after 14 years of litigation. 

The Declaration of Restricted Use states that the 70-acre lot can only be used for a golf course, other recreational uses, conservation uses or no use. The document also allows accessory uses, such as parking and temporary or permanent structures to be built that support the permitted uses.

"Our view is that other recreational uses besides the golf course are allowed, and our view is that [the school's proposal] fits within the covenants," said Chuck Anthony, the chair of Key’s Buildings and Grounds Committee at a community meeting in September.

The neighbors' amended complaint that was filed Monday argues that student athletics and field trips geared around environmental studies would constitute educational uses and would violate the covenants.

The complaint also argues that even if the court considers Key School's proposal a recreational use, it should still reject the school's plan because county law did not allow for sports fields in areas zoned for open space in 1987. 

"The intent of the negotiated declaration was to limit permitted uses even more greatly than the open space zoning would allow," according to the complaint.

Anne Arundel County Council passed a law in May that expanded permissions for use of open space zoning to include sports fields. The decision opened the door for the school to move ahead with its purchase plans—which were initially rejected by the council in February.

Finally, the amended complaint argues that athletic fields would increase traffic and the proposed buildings for locker rooms, concessions and maintenance would harm "the pastoral aesthetics of the golf course property."

The Key School plans to file a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on the grounds that it does not satisfy the legal requirements established by the court, said Irfan Latimer, Key School's director of communication.

"Key will ask the court to again dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety," Latimer said.

The school filed its preliminary proposal for the athletic fields with the county shortly after its public meeting in September. 

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