Judge rules against Rockville in funeral home dispute -- Gazette.Net


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A Montgomery County judge has ruled against the City of Rockville and reinstated an ordinance that could allow Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home to build a 46-space parking lot in Rockville’s West End.

The proposed parking lot has been controversial, with some officials saying it does not belong in a primarily residential district and others saying the Mayor and Council has been inconsistent in its dealings with Pumphrey.

In December 2010, Rockville’s Mayor and Council voted 3-2 to change the city’s zoning laws to allow the funeral home at 300 W. Montgomery Ave. to add a parking lot. Councilmen John Britton, Piotr Gajewski and Mark Pierzchala voted for the change, while Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton opposed it.

In January 2012, after the 2011 city elections, the Mayor and Council reversed its 2010 decision. Marcuccio, Newton and Councilman John F. Hall Jr. voted in favor of overturning the 2010 change, with Pierzchala and Councilman Tom Moore opposed.

In June 2012, William A. Pumphrey filed a petition for judicial review on behalf of the funeral home, The Gazette reported, arguing that Rockville should not have reversed its decision.

Pumphrey claimed that there was no new evidence or procedures that justified the reversal. He spent thousands of dollars on application filing fees required by the city prior to the reversal, according to the petition.

On April 29, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eric M. Johnson ruled that the reversal be deemed null and void and that the earlier ordinance, which would allow the parking lot, be reinstated.

Soo Lee-Cho, an attorney for Pumphrey, said the city could appeal the decision, so whether the parking lot can be built now remains to be seen.

“We would love to proceed with the parking lot, because obviously the court, we believe, affirmed our position,” she said. “... We feel vindicated to some extent.”

A statement from the City of Rockville was not immediately available.

ewaibel@gazette.net