Butler Landscaping Design

Breaking News:  The Maryland Court of Appeals has reversed the Circuit Court and affirmed the Board of Appeals decision against Melody Butler Landscaping Design.  SCA will monitor the M.C. Permitting Office to make sure that this business, which has been operating illegally for over four years, will finally be shut down.

S.C.A.’s Position:

S.C.A. opposes landscaping businesses located in residential areas of the RDT zone.  We are working to change the Special Exception that permits landscaping businesses in the Agriculture Reserve to add more protections in terms of land size and buffer requirements.  We also want Montgomery County officials to close down any business that does not have the required permits to operate.  As it stands now, the County does not close down an unpermitted business in the Agriculture Reserve as long as there is any legal proceeding yet to be concluded.  This policy has allowed a person who knew the law when she moved to the Peach Tree Road address (she had been closed down from an unpermitted location in Potomac because she failed to get a Special Exception) to continue operating her business for over four years.

Background Information:

  • June 1, 2006 Melody Butler (no relationship to Butler Orchard) received a Notice of Violation from the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services for failing to obtain the required special exception for a landscaping business in the Rural Density Transfer Zone. 
  • It took the court system almost a year to order Melody Butler to cease operation until the exemption was obtained.
  • On July 30, 2007, Melody Butler filed a Petition for Special Exception to run her landscaping business.  At a hearing on September 10, 2008, the Office of Administrative and Zoning Hearing denied the special exception.
  • At a previous hearing on Feb. 8, 2008, it was concluded that the adverse effects of the landscaping business that would be considered inherent actually became non-inherent due to the nature and layout of the property.  Thus, the business did not qualify for a special exception of this property.  Thus subsequent appeals were denied. 
  • A petition for judicial review in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County reversed the decision and the case was remanded back to the Board of Appeals. At this point, the State’s Attorney Office for Montgomery County MD Filed their Notice of Appeal as did Cora Weeks, the owner of the property adjacent to the melody Butler property. 
  • All of this time, Cora Weeks and other neighbors have suffered from the adverse impacts of the illegal Butler Landscaping Design business. 
  • In May of 2010, The Court of Appeals of Maryland ordered that the case of Montgomery County MD Et al v. Melody Butler d/b/a Butler Landscaping Design be transferred to its Court.  The case is set for argument during the October, 2010 session. 
  • Unfortunately, Montgomery County has a policy of no enforcement until the exhaustion of the appeal regarding the special exception.

Summary of Action: 

S.C.A. has not entered this case formally.  The burden of the cost has been on Cora Weeks and now, Montgomery County.  However, S.C.A. is vitally interested in this case and hopes to get the special exception requirements for a landscaping business rewritten to add more protection for the adjoining properties and any future landscaping business.  As it stands now, any landscaping business could purchase an existing property of two acres and apply for a special exception.

Sugarloaf Citizens' Association, Inc.
Linden Farm 
20900 Martinsburg Road
P.O. Box 218 
Dickerson, MD 20842

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