South Easton v. Easton

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South Easton Neighborhood Assoc iation, In c. v. Tow n of Ea ston, No. 120, Sept. Term 2004. Opinion by Harrell, J. DECLARATORY JUDGMENT - MUNICIPAL CORPORATION - HOME RULE EXPLICIT POWER TO CONVEY PROPERTY A declaration by an incorporated municipality that the conveyance of a road bed of a closed public right-of-way to a private entity for a public use is affirmed where the conveyance confo rmed w ith Artic le 23A , § 2 (b) (24) of the Maryland Code. Article 23A, § 2 (b) (24) requires that the legislative body determine that the street bed in question was no longer needed for public use or public purpose before passing an ordinance conveying the street bed. The Easton Town Council exercised properly its authority when it closed Adkins Avenue pursuant to its town charter. Co nveyance o f the now -closed roa d bed to a p rivate, non-p rofit corporation to expand the emergency room facility of the Town s only hospital occurred after the Town Council effectively determined that the road bed was no longer needed for any other p ublic us e or pur pose. RECUSAL - PERMISSIVE - STANDARD REQUIRING OTHER JUDGE TO HEAR MOTION Initial recusal request by counsel was refused properly because no evidence of partiality was proffered. Refusal of the motion was not an abuse of discretion because there was no evidence that the sitting judge would be partial towards an opposing party that operated a hospital that m ay giv e me dica l trea tmen t to th e jud ge or his f amil y. In a post-trial motion for recusal resulting that it be heard by another jud ge, the mo ving coun sel demon strated only adverse outcomes before the sitting judg e and not persona l bias, as required under Surratt v. Prince G eorge s C ounty, 320 Md. 439, 578 A.2d 745 (1990). As a result, the sitting judge denied properly the motion to recuse because sufficient personal bias was not alleged. Circuit Co urt for Talb ot County Case # 20-C-04-005010 AA IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 120 September Term, 2004 SOUTH EASTON NEIGHBORHOOD ASSO CIAT ION, IN C., et al. v. TOW N OF EAST ON, M ARY LAN D, et al. Bell, C.J. Raker Wilner Cathell Harrell Battaglia Greene, JJ. Opinion by Harrell, J. Filed: June 3, 2005 This case began with a request by Shore Health Systems, Incorporated ( SHS ), operator of the Easton M emorial Hospital in Eas ton, Maryland (the Ho spital ), to expand the Hospital s emergency room facilities. A prerequisite for construction of the planned expansion was the closure and conve yance to S HS of the road bed of Adkin s Ave nue, a public street of the Town of Easton ( Town ), an incorporated municipality. The closure and conveyance would a llow the ne w facility to be b uilt across the e xisting public right-of-w ay. A hearing was held by the Town Council to consider concurrently the proposed closure of Adkins Avenue and a zoning amendment for the proposed Hospital expansion. SHS claimed that the existing Ho spital was designed fo r less than one-half of the current patient flow. Construction over the street bed was asserted as the only viable expansion alternative for the increased need for emergency room services. The South Easton Neighborhood Association, Inc. ( SENA ) opposed the closing of Adkins Avenue, offering two main argu ments: (a) it w ould leave local neighborhood residents without a safe alternative to access downtown Easton; and (b) the existing use of Adkins Avenue by the public foreclosed the Tow n s ability to close the street and convey the street bed to SHS. On 5 January 2004, the Town Council enacted Ordinance No. 466, closing Adkins Avenue and author izing the conve yance to S HS of the lion s share o f the stre et bed. SENA filed in the Circuit Court for Talbot County a two count petition against the Town, generally seeking to enjoin the closure and transfer. T he first coun t sought a declaration, pursuant to the Dec laratory Judgme nt Act, §§ 3-4 01, et. seq. of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code, that Ordinance No. 466 exceeded the statutory authority granted to the Town Council under Article 23A, § 2(b) (24) of the Maryland Code. The second count sought judicial review of the Town Council s action as if it wer e review able as th e final a ction of an adm inistrativ e agen cy or bod y. At a motions hearing on 30 July 2004, the Circuit Court orally granted summ ary judgment to the Town and SHS (the latter having intervened as a party defendant), indicating its intention to declare Ordinance No. 466 to be a valid exercise of the authority grante d to the Town by Article 23A, § 2(b)(24). In the judgment entered on 3 August 2004, the Circuit Court declared Ordinance No. 466 lawful and, with respect to SENA s petition for judicial review, affirmed the Town Council s decision to close and convey Adkins Av enue. SENA s post-judgment motions were denied. SENA appealed to the Cou rt of Specia l Appeals . We gran ted a writ of certiorari, on the petition of SHS and the Town (collectively described here as Appellees)1 before the intermediate appellate co urt could co nsider the ap peal (see § 1 2-201 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, Md. Code (1973, 2002 Repl. Vol.) and Maryland Rule 8-302) to decide the following questions, which we re-order to facilitate our analysis: I. Whether the Town, in authorizing the closing and conveyance to private parties of an actively used public road, violated its fiduciary responsibilities under M aryland law w ith respect to 1 SHS an d the Tow n filed their joint petition for writ of certiorari to bypass the Court of Specia l Appeals even thou gh they succe eded in the Circuit Court. The reason given for their initiative was the substantial public interest in constructing promptly the new emergency room faci lity. SENA, which filed a cross-petition, also desired that we assume jurisdiction over th e appe al. 2 that public road and failed to meet its burden of proof as a fiduciary for the challenged closing of a n actively-used public street. [2] II. Whether the requireme nt in Section 2(b)(24) of Article 23A that municipal property may b e conveyed when the legislative body determines that it is no longer needed for any public use prohibits a municipality from conveying public property to a private person or entity if a limited minority of public uses the public property for convenience. III. Whether the Town properly determined that closing Adkins Avenue to enable SHS to construct a new emergen cy care facility promote s a public be nefit. IV. Whethe r SENA submitted s ufficient ev idence of judicial bias to require Judge Horne to recuse himself from deciding th is case. For reason s to be exp lained, we shall affirm the judgm ent of the C ircuit Court. I. Further judicial review of the C ircuit Court s order upholding the Town C ouncil s decision to close Adkins Avenue cannot be maintained as an action for judicial review of an administrative agency s dec ision. Our re view her e shall be dir ected to the Circuit Court s declaratory judgment, an app ealable final order. 3 2 In our Order, dated 17 December 2004, acting on the pending p etitions for ce rtiorari, we denied SENA s cross-petition without prejudice to raise any issues it may have raised properly before the Cou rt of Special Appeals. The first question posed here was raised by SENA in its brief. 3 We raise on our initiative the question of the jurisdiction in the appellate courts and the Circuit Court to consider the petition for judicial review aspect of this case. SENA (continued...) 3 3 (...continued) appeals the declaratory relief granted and further seeks judicial review of the affirmance of the Town Counc il s decision to pass Ordinance No. 466. We clearly have jurisdiction over the appeal as to the declaration, a final judgme nt. Md. Code (1 973, 2002 Re pl. Vol.) § 12301 of the Cts . and Ju dicial Pr oceed ings A rticle. In its petition (Count 2) in the Circuit C ourt, SEN A pled fo r judicial review , pursuant to Maryland Rule 7-202, as to the lawfulness of the enactment of Amended Ordinance No. 466. It also sought injunctive and other relief without specifying as to whether that relief was sought as consideration of the declaratory action or judicial review. SENA made no attempt to identify the source of its implied legal right to judicial review of the Town Council s action in the Circuit Court. Although Chapter 200 of Title 7 of the Maryland Rules provides the process for how judicial review of administrative agency decisions is to proceed, it does not gra nt the rig ht to a pa rty to seek review of an a dminis trative d ecision . County C ouncil for Prince George s County v. Carl M. Freeman Assocs., Inc., 281 Md. 70, 74, 376 A.2d 860, 862 (1977) (the B Rules (the predecessors to Chapter 200 of Title 7 of the Maryland Rules) do not c reate a s tatutory rig ht of ap peal). There appears to be no statutory authority for the Circuit Court to consider a petition for judicial review of the Town Council s decision to close Adkins Aven ue. If there were an authorizing provision, it like ly would be d eemed a special remedy allowed by statute or ordinance and thus preclude the declaratory relief sought by SENA. § 3-409 (b) of the Cts. and Judicial Proceedings Article; see Converge Servs. Group, LLC v. Curran, 383 Md. 462, 478, 860 A.2 d 871, 88 0 (2004); Utilities, Inc. v. Wash. Suburb an Sanitary Co mm n, 362 Md. 37, 45, 763 A.2d 129, 133 (2000) (holding § 3-409 (b) of the Declaratory Judgment Act applies to special statutory remedies beginning with either administrative or judicial proceedings); Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning C omm n v. W ashington Nat l Arena, 282 Md., 588, 596, 386 A.2d 1216, 1223 (1978) (observing that § 3-409 (b) of the Declaratory Judgments Act would deprive a trial court of the pow er to render a declaratory decree only in those cases where the Legislature intended to prohibit the exercise of concurrent jurisdiction by the courts ). Our research did not uncover a legislative authorization for judicial rev iew of the Town s actions in th e Circuit Court in either the Maryland Code or the Town of E aston Charter or Ordinances. Even absent such sta tutory auth ority, we h ave au thorized , in limited, Constitutional circumstances, the judiciary to exercise its inherent authority to review quasi-judicial decisions by admin istrative a gencie s. Bd. of Educ. v. Sec y of Pers., 317 M d. 34, 44, 562 A.2d 700, 705 (1989); Dep t of Natural Resources v. Linchester Sand & Gravel Corp., 274 (continued...) 4 3 (...continued) Md. 211, 223, 334 A .2d 514, 523 (1975). The courts retain inherent power to review actions of administrative boa rds show n to be arbitra ry, illegal or capriciou s, and to imp air personal or prop erty rights. . ., Heaps v. Cobb, 185 Md. 372, 379, 45 A.2d 73, 76 (1945), when an adm inistrativ e agen cy acts in a quasi-ju dicial ca pacity. In contrast, the courts are likewise without a uthority to interfere with any exercise of the legislative prerogative within con stitutional limits, or with the lawful exercise of administrative authority or discretion. Id. Maryland courts, however, may entertain cases when the sole issue raised may be characterized fairly as seeking a common law writ of mandamus as relief . Bucktail, LL C v. Cou nty Counc il, 352 Md. 530, 541-42, 723 A.2d 440, 445 (1999) (allowing ap peal of Circuit Cou rt s judicial review of coun ty council s decision to deny a zonin g amendment ordinance as substantially seeking a common law writ of mandamus where Bucktail s application for a zoning am endmen t met all man datory subm ittal requireme nts and was recommended for approval by the Talbot County Planning Com mission ). Any vestige of discretion exercised by the administrative agency, howe ver, will prevent the characterization of such an appeal as one seeking a writ of mandamus. See Criminal Injuries Co mp. Bd. v . Gould, 273 M d. 486, 5 04, 331 A.2d 5 5, 66 (1975 ). A common law writ of mandamus is one where the relief sought involves the traditional enforcement of a ministerial act (a legal d uty) by reca lcitrant p ublic of ficials. Gisriel v. Ocean City Bd. of Supervisors of Elections, 345 Md. 477, 497-500, 693 A.2d 757, 767-68 (1997) (petition for judicial review was characterized properly as one seeking a common law writ of mandamus where th e plaintiff so ught to com pel the Bo ard of Ele ctions to perform its duty in ex ecut ing the te rms o f the Oce an C ity Charter regarding qualified and registered voters); Murr ell v. Ma yor of B alt., 376 Md. 170, 196, 829 A.2d 548, 564 (2003) (where the original complaint was in substance more like a common law mandamus action than a petition for judicial review); but see id. at 199-200, 829 A.2d at 565-66 (observing that original petition for judicial review was not considered by petitioner as a writ of mandamus until app ealed) ( Wilne r, J., dissen ting). We are unable to characterize the petition for judicial review aspect of the present action as one seeking review of an administrative agency acting in its quasi-judicial capacity or in pursuit of a com mon la w wri t of ma ndam us. In its challenge to the Town Council s decision to enact Ordinance No. 466, SENA seeks, at a minimum, review of the legislative action of the Town Council to close a street bed under both a town charter provision and a Maryland statute granting the Town the discretion to enact an ordinance accomplishing that act. Thus, the petition for judicial review in this case may not be characterized fairly as a common law action of mandamus. (continued...) 5 II. The Hospital lies w ithin a Com mercial-Medical Zoning District ( C-M Zone )4 , established in 1993 an d last amen ded by Tow n ordinance in 1998. The Ho spital s main campus bears th e addre ss 219 S outh W ashing ton Stre et. The campus is bordered on the north and south by Biery Street an d West E arle Aven ue, respectiv ely, and on the west by Adkins Avenue. Ad kins Avenue is approximately nine hundred feet long and runs in a north/south direction, connecting Biery Street to Earle Avenue. Adkins Avenue is forty feet wide at its n orthern terminus with Bier y Street an d fif ty feet wid e at its southern terminus with Earle Avenue. The Hospital is w holly-owne d by SHS , a Maryland non-prof it, non-stock c haritable corporation providing emergency, diagnostic, and c linical medical care on the Eastern Sho re of Maryland, principally through two hospitals the Hospital and Dorchester General 3 (...continued) Even if the Circuit Court possessed jurisdiction to exercise appellate review of the Town Council s decision in this regard, our appellate jurisdiction is lacking over the judgment of the Circuit Court s affirm ance of th e To wn C ouncil s deci sion . The re is n o leg islati velygranted right to appe al or seek jud icial review, in the Town Charter or Ordinances, authorizing further judicial review of the Circuit Court s judgment entered in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. Md. Code (1973, 2002 Repl. Vol.), § 12-302 (a) of the Cts. and Judicial Proceedings Article. Because this case may not be characterized as a common law writ of mandamus action, there is no appellate jurisdiction for review b y this Court akin to Bucktail, Gisriel, and Murrell, supra. 4 The C-M Zone is a floating zone (much like a planned-unit development, or PUD) providing for the planned and orderly development of medical facilities in Easton. See Mayor of Rockville v. Rylyns Enters., Inc., 372 M d. 514, 5 33-35 n. 9, 539 n.15, 814 A.2d 469, 480-81 n. 9, 484 n.15 (2002), for a comparison of floating versus Euclidean zoning. 6 Hospital in Camb ridge, M aryland, as well as other fac ilities. Other than the two ho spitals operated by SHS, there are no other hospitals in Talb ot, Dorchester, Queen Anne s or Caroline Counties. The Hospital Emergency Room (the Emergency Room ) was designed in 1983 to accomm odate approx imately 13 ,000 visits annually. At the time of the T own C ouncil meeting in October 2003, the Emergency Room was receiving approxim ately 41,000 v isits per year. Estimates supplied by SHS indicated that approximate ly 50,000 p atients wou ld present at the Emergency Room by the year 2015, based on population growth and demo graphi c progr ession. On 20 October 2003 the Town Council held a joint public hearing to consider, among other things, the proposed amendment to the C-M Zone to accommodate the Hospital expansion. In its request, SHS represented to the Town that a prerequisite to the construction of the expanded Emerge ncy room w as the closu re and con veyance of Adkins A venue to SHS. SHS proposed expanding the Hospital facility across the street bed and onto lots SHS controlled on the opposite side of Adkins Avenue. Title to the street bed was to be transferred to SHS. The record contains a letter from the Chairman of the Town s Planning and Zoning Commission and a Town staff report, both of which recommended approval of the closure of Adk ins Avenue an d propose no o ther or a future public use or purpose for the street bed. S HS submitted a traffic study showing that only 5-6 cars per hour drove the 7 length of Adkins Avenue during peak travel pe riods. (Figure 1 depicts a n ot-to-scale drawin g of the propo sed Em ergenc y Room expan sion ac ross the bed of Adkin s Ave nue). Figure 1 8 SENA purported to be acting at the Tow n Coun cil hearing on behalf of area resid ents in its opposition to SHS s requests.5 Wye Avenue, which runs parallel to Adkins Avenue, was alleged to be an impractical alternative for public ingress and egress because of street congestion, pedestrian use, and a lack of off-street parking. After submitting petitions supporting that Adkins Avenue be retained as a much-desired public right of way by the local residents, SENA argued that the Town lacked the legal authority to close Adkins Avenue because the on-going pub lic use of Adkins A venue, to any degree, foreclos ed the Town s discretion to close the street under Article 23A, § 2(b)(24) of the Maryland Code.6 5 The residents supporting SENA at the Town Council hearing, and as named parties in this case, are either residents or property own ers on the several streets surrounding th e Hospital. None of these properties abut Adkins Avenue. The Hosp ital and a synagogue are the sole owners of the property abutting Adkins Avenue. 6 Article 23A, § 2(b) states: (b) Express Powe rs. In addition to, but not in substitution of, the powers which have been, or may hereafter be, granted to it, such legislative body also shall have the following express ordinance-making powers: * * * * (24) To acquire by conveyance, purchase or condemnation real or leasehold property needed for any public purpose; to erect buildings thereon for the ben efit of the m unicipality; and to sell at public or private sale after twenty days public notic e and to convey to the purch aser or purc hasers there of any real or leasehold property belonging to the municipality when such legislative body determines that the sam e is no longer needed for any pub lic use. (continued...) 9 On 3 Nove mber 20 04, the To wn Co uncil approved the closure of Adkins Avenue. On 5 January 2004, the Town Council enacted Amended Ordinance No. 466 and conveyed the relevant po rtion of the stre et bed to SH S. The A mended Ordinan ce authoriz ed: (1) closing Adkins Avenue and conveying a portion of the bed of that s treet to SH S as r equested by it will serve a pu blic purpose and benefit, namely, facilitating the provision of emergency and outpatient care services to the residents of the Town, Talbot County and surrounding counties; and (2) closing the remaining portion of the bed of Adkins Avenue to the Temple [7] is appropriate since no public purpose is served by maintaining that portion o f Adkin s Avenu e as a pub lic street. The Ordinance also incorporated by exhibit a new boundary line revision plat ( McCrone Plat ) submi tted by SH S. The McC rone P lat show ed that S HS an d the T emple , the sole 6 (...continued) To take by gift, grant, bequest, or devise and to hold real and personal property absolutely or in trust for parks or gardens, or for the erection of statutes, monuments, buildings, or structures, or for any public use, upon such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the grantor or donor, and accepted by the municip ality; to provide for the proper administration of the same; and to convey the same when such legislative body determines that it is no longer needed for public purposes, subject to the terms and conditions o f the origina l grant. Md. C ode (19 57, 200 1 Rep l. Vol.). All Maryland Code citations contained herein, unless otherwise specified, will be to A rticle 23A, 2001 Replacement Volume, in effect at the time of th e motions h earing in the Circuit Court. A portion of § 2 (b), not relevant to this appeal, was amended, effective 1 October 2004. 2 004 M d. Law s Chap . 282. 7 A small portion of the street b ed was to be transferred to the Temple B nai Israel Congregation (the Temple ), which fronts on the northwest corner of the intersection of Adkin s Ave nue an d Earle Aven ue. Th e Tem ple is no t a particip ant in thi s appea l. 10 property owners abutting Adkins Avenue, would receive the streetbed, which was captioned on the McCrone Plat as to be abandoned. Ordinance No. 466 incorporated a statemen t of the Town Council s Findings o f Fact. These findings included: 1) Adkins Avenue is used as a convenience by area residents in lieu of Wye Avenue; 2) SHS would maintain a means of access of transit between Earle Avenue and Biery Street in the event that an emergency would close access to Wye Avenue and South Washington Street; 3) Town Charter Article II § 17-A (3)8 authorized the Town Counc il to close public streets; 4) closing a portion of Adkins Avenue was in the best interest of the public in providing improved emergency medical services to the Town; 5) the Hospital would use approximately 250 feet of the 900 foot street bed for the addition to the Hospital and the proposed Emergency Room; 6) there is no particular benefit in publicly maintaining the portion of Adkins Avenue remaining after the Hospital s construction of the expanded Emergency Room; and, 7) the Town Counc il was authorized to convey the remaining street bed pursuant to Md. Code Article 23A, § 2(b)(24). (Figure 2 depicts the Hospital in relation to the streets of th e Town . Pennsfield Lane, dep icted here p arallel to Wye Avenue and Adkins Av enue, is an alley). 8 Town Charter A rticle II § 17-A (3) states that the Town may, (3) Grade, straighten, widen , alter, imp rove, or close u p any exi sting tow n publi c street o r way or p art there of. 11 Figure 2 12 Amended Ordinance No. 465 also was enacted 5 Janu ary 2004. This ordinance amended the C-M District Zon e to reflect the Emergency Room expansion and incorporated by reference the Emerge ncy Services P avilion and Outpatien t Center C -M Dis trict Application & Amendment Sketch Plan detailing the construction of the Emergency Room over the to-be-closed street bed of Adkins Avenue. Ordinance No. 465 also incorporated the closure of Adk ins Aven ue, stating that th e Tow n Coun cil will take the necessary legislative action to close and transfer Adkins Avenue to SHS and the Temple.9 On 4 February 2004 SENA filed in the Circuit Court for Talbot County its two count compla int against the Town. SENA reiterated in its complaint that the Town lacked legal authority to close A dkins Av enue w hile the street still was being used by the public. It alleged that the Town held Ad kins Ave nue in trust for the p ublic use. L astly, it alleged, in its judicial review request, that the Town acted arbitrarily and capriciously in adopting Ordinance No. 466. Four m onths after filing the suit, SENA moved for assignment of a judge to hear the case who was not dependant on SHS for health c are, claiming that the sole sitting judge in the Circuit Cou rt should recuse him self if he or a ny membe r of his imm ediate family relied upon SHS for necessary health care. 9 The Easton Planning and Zoning Commission convened twice to consider the proposed zoning amendment and street closure. After both meetings, the Chairman stated in a letter that the Commission supported the vacation of Adkins Avenue . The Town Engineer also reviewed the proposed renovations to the Hospital and, while not specifically addressing the closing of Adkins Avenue, did not identify an alternate public use or purpose necessitating retention of the to-be-closed street bed. 13 After SHS intervened as a party defendant, SHS and the Town moved separately for summary judgment on both counts. In both motions, the parties claimed that the Town was authorized under the Town Charter to close the street. They further asserted that the Town reached the necessary legal conclusion comporting with § 2 (b) (24), that continued use of Adkins Avenue as a public thoroughfare was no longer needed and the construction of an expanded emergency room was a public use and public benefit. In addition, the Town opposed the motion for recusal of the judg e, pointing out that the reasoning of SENA s motion effectively w ould exten d to each sittin g judge in each Circuit Court in the M id-Shore Area. The Honorable William S. Horne held a hearing in the Circuit Court on 30 July 2004 to consider the motion for his recusal and the motions for summary judgment. Regarding the recusal motion, counsel for SENA alleged that Judge Horne and his wife reli ed extensively on the H ospital for m edical treatm ent. Because of this reliance, counsel believed that Judge H orne cou ld not d ecid e this litiga tion fairl y and impartia lly. Judge Horne denied SENA s motion, stating that whether a judge depended on SHS for medical care for himself/he rself or his/her family was irrelevant to his or her ability to decide fairly the matters raised in SEN A s com plaint and th e motions f or summ ary judgmen t. The Circuit Court granted summar y judgment in favor of the Town and SHS and declared Ordinan ce No. 46 6 lawful. In its oral opinion , the Circuit C ourt stated tha t, even though the conveyance of the largest portion of the street bed of Adkins Avenue was to a 14 private entity, the land transfer to build the expanded emergency room was for a public use and benefitted the public. Although Adkins Avenue was being used as a public street to some extent, the Town Council properly determined, pursuant to § 2 (b) (24), that it no longer was nee ded as a p ublic street. The court also noted that the Town Council recognized that parallel, rema ining streets co uld be use d to arrive at th e same loc ations that Ad kins Avenue served . The Circuit Court concluded further that the planned public use of the street bed of Adk ins Aven ue for an e xpanded emergen cy room w as superior to that of the convenience of the nearby residents in having Adkins Avenue continue as a p ublic thoroughfare. SENA filed a motion for a new trial, citing Surratt v. Prince Geo rge s County , 320 Md. 439, 578 A.2d 745 (1990). SENA s counsel alleged that Judge Horne had demonstrated a rather rem arkable and offensive pattern of judicial misconduct towards the attorneys and clients of their firm and enclo sed sealed a ffidavits alleg edly supporting that position. Because of this alleged longstanding pattern of personal animus, counsel believed that their motion, as a matter of law, must be heard and ruled upon by another judge. Judge Horne denied the motion, without a hearing, on 2 September 2004. III. SENA asserts that the Town, as the entity holding public roads in trust for the public as a matter of law, violated an implied fiduciary relationship to the general public. As support for the existence of this fiduc iary relationship, SENA contends that we have held that 15 land held by a mu nicipality in its gove rnmen tal capa city . . . and therefore held in trust for the public cannot be disposed of with out special statutory authority. . . . McRobie v. Mayor of Westernport, 260 Md. 464, 467, 272 A.2d 655, 657 (1971) (quoting Mayor of Balt. v. Chesapeake Marine Ry. Co., 233 Md. 559, 572, 197 A.2d 821, 827 (1964)). SENA equates a municipal corporation s (and its officials ) duty to hold property in trust for the public to that of the fiduciary duty a trustee would have towards a beneficiary. When a beneficiary or dependent party produces evidence that a trustee has violated its fiduciary duty, the trustee shoulders the burden of adducing proof to the contrar y. Lopez v. Lopez, 250 Md. 491, 501, 243 A.2d 588, 594 (1968). As SENA sees it, the Town had the burden to rebut the alleged breach of its implied fiduciary duty to the public in its conveyance of Adkins A venue to S HS. SE NA s n ovel argum ent is incorrec t. As Appellees point out, the public trust discussed in McRobie has never been viewed as more than an ad visory admonition to public officials.10 In Kerpelman v. Bd. of Pub. Works, 261 Md. 4 36, 276 A.2d 56 (1971), Kerpelman s standing to sue was based on her status as a member of the Maryland public. She claimed that the public trust was violated 10 This is so unles s an exp ress fid uciary rela tionship is foun d to exis t. See Ward v. Mayor of Balt., 267 Md. 576, 298 A.2d 382 (1973) (holding that Baltimore City did not violate explicit trust agreement to invest proceeds from the sale of a testamentary transfer of real property for a public park when it later resold a portion of th at public pa rk if it invested the proceeds from that sale into improvements to the remaining park). SENA attempted before this Court, in a motion to correct the record, to introduce additional evidence not presented to the Town Council or the Circuit Co urt. This new ev idence pu rportedly wo uld indicate that Adkins Avenue was conveyed to the Town pursuant to a deed that contained conditions upon the conveyance. On 3 February 2005, we denied this motion. 16 by the Maryland Board o f Public W orks wh en it transferre d wetland s in Worc ester Cou nty to a private entity for a completely and totally inadequate money consideration. Id. at 440, 276 A.2d at 58 . She alleged that person s invested w ith legislative powers of government were trustees and accounta ble to her as a be neficiary of the public trust flo wing fro m Article 6 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.11 We rejected the no tion that Article 6 created a beneficiary - trustee relation ship. We explained rather that the language of Article 6 was merely ad visory. Id. at 444- 45, 276 A.2d a t 61. An inco rpor ated mun icipa lity, like Easton, invested with legislative pow ers under § 2 (b) (24), holds property in trust for the public in a general sense, but not in a way creating a special relation ship relative to the public at large. This public trust does not create a fiduciary relationship. 1 George T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees, § 38, p. 422 (1984) ( Public office is a trust in the sense that confidence is imposed that the welfare of the public will be enhan ced, but there is no trust [here]. ). IV. The exercise of the governmental power at issue in this case is solely that to convey a former public street bed. Our standard of review of the declaratory judgment entered as the result of the grant of a motion for summary judgment is whether that declaration was correct as a matter of law . Converge Servs. Group, LLC v. Curran, 383 Md. 462, 476, 860 11 Article 6 stated in relevant part, that all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive pow ers of Government are the Trustees of the Pu blic, and, as su ch, accou ntable for thei r condu ct . . . . 17 A.2d 871, 879 (200 4). For a declaration regarding a town council s decision to convey property used for government purposes (a legislative determination) to be correct as a matter of law, the analysis focuses on whether the decision was made within the legal boundaries of the To wn s s tatutory au thority. See Dep t. of Natural Resources v. Linchester Sand & Gravel Corp., 274 Md. 211 , 224, 334 A.2d 5 14, 523 (1975). A. As an inco rporate d mun icipality, the Town is granted the express power to convey real property pursuant to Article 23A, § 2 (b) (24) of the Maryland Code. After examining the statutory language of § 2 (b) (2 4) and the is sues presen ted by SEN A, we ag ree with the Circuit Court and shall affirm the declaration regarding Amended Ordinance No. 466.12 12 Appellees did not raise in their petition fo r writ of certio rari whethe r SENA or its individual members, in order to maintain th e compla int for declar atory judgme nt, possessed a special interest sufficiently greater than that of the general public. Although the Town raised the standing issue in its mo tion for sum mary judgm ent in the Circuit C ourt, the point was not addres sed furthe r at the motio ns hearing or in the final judgment. While we limit our review here to issues raised p roperly by our gra nt of the w rit of certiorari, it is problem atic whether SENA ultimately could triumph, as a matter of law, where none of its individual members own pro perty abutting A dkins Av enue. W e note that au thority in this State does not support SEN A s claim that it has suffere d sufficient particular injury greater than the general public. German Evangelical Lutheran St. Lucas C ongrega tion v. Ma yor of Balt., 123 Md. 142, 151-54, 90 A. 983 (1914) (explaining the widely held presumption that property owners that h ave p ortio ns of public rig ht-of-w ays closed that e ither merely leave inconvenient access to their property or the section closed does not abut their property suffer no greater than the public as a whole and are d enied com pensation f or the closing ); Van Witsen v. Gutm an, 79 M d. 405, 409-1 2, 29 A. 60 8, 609-10 (1894) (ho lding that statu te permitted abutting landowners to have standing to challenge Baltimore City Ordinance closing one section of an alley for a private use); see Riggs v. Winterode, 100 Md. 439, 452, 59 A. 762, 76 7 (1905) (o bserving th at property ow ners witho ut a greater in terest in a pub licly used road have been precluded from seeking an injunction to halt the closure of a public (continued...) 18 Before deci ding ultim ately the legality of Amended O rdinance No. 46 6, it is necessary to explain two separate (o riginally), but now intertwined, legal concepts at issue in this case. The first is the authority of a municipal corp oration to convey governm enta l real prop erty. At comm on law , municipalities had no inherent power to convey property used for governmental purposes, absent legislative approval from the Gene ral Ass embly. McRo bie, 260 Md. at 467-68, 272 A.2d at 657. Article 23A § 2 (b) (24) s upplies that le gislative gran t. Article XI-E, § 3 of the Maryland Constitution granted Home Rule to municipal corporations, enabling those corporations to enact local laws or ordinances relating to their respective governmental affairs. Section 2 (b) of Article 23A enumerates a non-exclusive list of express ordinance-making powers available to municipal corporations.13 Ordinances 12 (...continued) street in other jurisdictions). Likewise, other states almost universally hold that when a street is closed in another block from the complaining property owner, the complaining property owner has not suffered sufficient special damages greater than that suffered by the general public. This is true even when it can be shown that the diversion of travel depreciates the value of pro perty or th e new route is le ss conv enient. See 11 Eugene McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, § 30.194, p. 136-37 (3rd ed. 2000). Without special damages or injury, or property abutting the soon-to-be-closed street, residents have been denied genera lly standin g to sue for inju nctive re lief. Id. at § 30.200 , p. 153; but id. at § 30.200, p. 153 (decisions granting residents that do not own property abutting on the soon-tobe closed street should be reg arded as unusual ); see Inlet Assocs. v. Assateague House Condo. Assoc., 313 Md. 413, 440-43, 545 A.2d 1296, 131 0-11 (198 8) (holding Circuit Court s rulin g not clea rly erroneous that plaintiffs had standing for declaratory action seeking invalidation of ultra vires reso lutio n conveying portion o f public stree t and riparian rights to private entity for development where, among other things, plaintiffs held property near and adjoining the property for deve lopment). 13 Originally app roved on 25 April 1947, Md. Laws Chap. 731, § 2 (b) (24) remains unaltered from its origina l langua ge desp ite two s ubseq uent re- enactm ents. 1983 Md. Laws (continued...) 19 passed pursuant to this broad-sweeping Home Rule power, however, are not permitted to be contrary to existin g publi c gene ral laws . Art. 23A, § 2 (a); Inlet Assocs. v. Assateague House Condo. Assoc., 313 Md. 413 , 425, 545 A.2d 1 296, 1302 (198 8). The second issue is the authority of a municipal corporation to close permanently a public street. Home Rule empowers municipal corporations with the authority to close streets. Md. Const. Art. XI-E, § 3; Art. 23A, § 1. The authority to close public stree ts is limited to circumstances where the closure, and subsequent transfer, of the public street does not benefit sole ly a private interest because th e streets of a m unicipal co rporation are held in trust for the benefit of the general public, the closing of a street, and the conveyance of the [municip ality s] interest in the stre et solely for the private benefit of an other, is not within the legislative body s power. . . . Inlet Assocs., 313 Md. at 431, 545 A.2d at 1305. Otherwise, the State possesses plenary power to close streets and may delegate that a utho rity. Mayor of Balt. v. Brengle, 116 Md. 342, 81 A. 677 (1911) (holding that the closing of a public street in accordance with a legislatively sanctioned annexatio n plan to be valid); see 11 Eu gene M cQuillin , Municipal Corporations, § 30.185, p. 99-102 (3 rd ed. 2000). We first addressed an appellate challenge to § 2 (b) (24), som e forty years after its enactmen t, in the factual context of the closure of a public street and the conveyance of the 13 (...continued) Chap. 398; 1995 Md. Laws Chap. 519. Section 2 of Article 23A was origin ally applied to Talbot County (and other cou nties). In 1973 an exemption which included Allegany, Anne Arunde l, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Kent, Prince George s, St. Mary s, Somerset, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties from § 2, was re pealed . 1973 M d. Law s Chap . 451. 20 street bed. Inlet Assocs. v. Assateague House Condominium Assoc., 313 Md. 413, 545 A.2d 1296 (1988). 14 Then-Chief Judg e M urph y, writing for a unanimous Court, held that the express delegation of legislative authority by the General Assembly to municipal corporations required an intention tha t the city council act upon municipal affairs through ordinances when performing its legislative function. Id. at 430, 545 A.2d at 1 304. Before considering the substance of § 2 (b) (24), we held that the controlling provisions of § 2 (b) required the Town of Ocean City, a municipal corporation, to make an affirmative determination via an ordinance before conveying a portion of a public street to Inlet Associates. Inlet Assocs., 313 Md. at 431, 545 A.2d at 1305. Because the municipal corporation conveyed th e street bed v ia a resolution, rathe r than an ord inance, w e held ineffective the To wn of Ocea n City s att empte d conv eyance o f the stre et bed. We further expressed that the relevant controlling Ocean City Town Charter provisions, which did not require an express determination of whether the street bed was needed for any public use, 14 Our review of street closure decisions before 1988 were resolved on other grounds. The bulk of the cases w ere resolved before § 2 (b) (24) w as enacted or involved public entities to which § 2 (b) (2 4) of A rticle 23 A did n ot apply. E.g., Perellis v. Mayor of Balt., 190 Md. 86, 57 A.2d 341 (19 48); Krebs v. Uhl, 160 Md. 584, 154 A. 131 (1 931); Johnson v. Mayor of Oakland, 148 M d. 432, 129 A. 648 (1 925); Germa n Evang elical Luthe ran St. Lucas Congre gation v. M ayor of Ba lt., 123 M d. 142, 90 A . 983 (191 4); Mayo r of Bal t. v. Brengle , 116 Md. 342, 81 A. 677 (1 911); Jenkins v. Riggs, 100 Md. 427, 59 A. 758 (1905); Van Witsen v. Gutman, 79 M d. 405, 2 9 A. 60 8 (189 4). On e case, McKaig v. Mayor of Cumberland, 208 Md. 95, 116 A.2d 384 (1955), was resolved subsequent to the enactment of Chapter 731 in 1947, concurrent with ratification of the Home Rule provisions of the Maryland Constitution, but before the repeal of the exemption to the provisions of § 2 of Article 2 3A gr anted in 1973 to munic ipal corp oration s within Allega ny Coun ty. 21 were controlled by Article 23A, § 2 (b) (24), namely that a determination that there is no longer any public ne ed for the s treet is requisite . . . . Inlet Assocs., 313 Md. at 431, 545 A.2d at 1305. B. The gravamen of SENA s appeal is that Amended Ordinance No. 466 exceeded the statutory authority granted by § 2 (b) (24). The contest here is limited to the determination of why the property was conveyed, although the exact means of the conveyance also is contested by SENA. S ectio n 2 (b ) (24 ) of A rt. 23 A co ntem plate s con veyan ce by a municipa lity of public property in two scenarios. The first occurs when the property was acquired initially by the municipal corporation through conveyance, purchase or conde mnatio n. The seco nd is whe n a m unic ipal c orpo ratio n rec eive s pro perty by gift, grant, bequest, or devise and later conveys all or a portion of property so acquired. The manner in which the municipality acquired the subject property in the first instance is unclear on this record.15 This creates a hurdle to a determination under which scenario of § 2 (b) (24) the operative facts should be analyzed. Of course, this omission may not be important if the tests that m ust be met u nder either sc enario are functionally identical or, if differen t, the result would be the same on the particular facts of the present case . In the first scenario, the municipality may convey the property when the legislative body 15 There was no evidence presented to the Town Council or Circuit Court by SENA purporting to describe the means by which the Town acquired Adkins Avenue. But see notes 10 and 17, supra, considering SENA s denied motion to admit additional evidence. 22 determines that [it] is no longer needed for any pub lic use. Art. 23A , § 2 (b) (24) (e mphasis added). In the second, the municipality may conv ey the property w hen it determ ines it is no longer needed for public purposes. . . . Id. (emphasis added). In this case, Ordinance No. 466 conveyed the street bed to SHS, for the purpose of the expanded Emergency Room, and to the Temple, neither of which depended on Adkins A venue for its sole main access. Although there may be a concep tual difference between public use and public purposes as contem plated by the statu te, property held for certain government purposes also may be a public use and a public purpose at the same time. Adkins Avenue, for example , is both. In Inlet Associates, we explained co nclusively that the streets of a municipality are held in trust for the benefit, use, and convenience of the general public. 313 Md. at 431, 545 A.2d at 1305 (emphasis added) (citing Sinclair v. Weber, 204 Md. 32 4, 104 A.2d 56 1 (1954); Townse nd, Grac e & Co. v. E pstein, 93 M d. 537, 4 9 A. 62 9 (190 1)). Our holding in Inlet Associates notwithstanding, were we to parse the analytical paradigm into separate parts, the result would be the same. Public use is a somewhat undefined legal tenet there is [n]o sa tisfacto ry single clear-cu t rule . . . which can decide all cases . . . . Green v. High Ridge Assoc., 346 Md. 65, 73, 695 A.2d 125, 128 (1997) (citation omitted). U ltimately, it is for the Judiciary to determine whether a particular use is public, although a reviewing court will give weight to legislative bodies in their own determinations of what constitu tes a pu blic use . Id., 695 A.2 d at 128-2 9; Prince Georg e s County v. Beard, 266 Md. 83, 95-96, 291 A.2d 636, 642 (1972) (explaining that a legislative 23 body cannot m erely declare a p ublic use w ithout a judicia l determinati on). F or example, actual public use or an entitlement by the public to use the property is often sufficient to prove that a pu blic use exists in conde mnatio n cases . Green, 346 Md. at 74, 695 A.2d at 129. By comparison, a public purpose is a more broadly-defined term; a public purpose is a government-directed action for the benef it of the p ublic as a who le. Black s Law Dictionary, 1267 (8th ed. 2004). Examples of valid public purposes range from legal benefits to domestic partners of county employees, Tyma v . Montgo mery C ounty, 369 Md. 497, 513, 801 A.2d 148, 157 (2002), to ensuring the hab itability of h ousing , Benik v. Hatcher, 358 Md. 507, 531, 750 A.2d 10, 23 (2000). Here, we examine the determination by the Tow n Coun cil in regard to Adkins Avenue as it existed at the time Ordinance No. 466 was ena cted. Adk ins Aven ue, as a pub lic street, was both a pub lic use and u sed for a p ublic purpo se. The Fin dings of F act by the Town Counc il reflect sufficiently this premise. In its Finding s of Fact, the Town Counc il determined that the public use of Adkins Avenue was as an access to the existing Hospital and as a conv enient route for nearby res idents travelin g down town. W ith the zoning amendment approved, including the proposed Emergency Room expansion across the street bed, there no longer could be public use of Adkins Avenue as either an access or a throughstreet. 16 Likewise, Adkins Avenue served a public purpose of providing access for the public 16 We con sider separa tely the issue of th e eventua l use of the s treet bed on ce it is conveyed to SH S. See V., infra. In respect to the issue of closing a street, the Town s determination as to need f or future p ublic use and public purpose under § 2 (b) (24) must be (continued...) 24 to the Hosp ital s existing em ergency me dical facility. SEN A offer s little argumen t, or evidence, that the Tow n Coun cil did not co nsider the public use or purpose of Adkins Avenue, nor that the T own C ouncil did n ot determin e that Adkins Avenue was no longer needed for the e xisting p ublic us e or pur pose. Furthermore, SENA offers little to rebut the Town Council s decision that the retention of Adkins Avenue was not needed for any other public use. Instead, SENA contends that Am ended Ordinance No. 466 violates the Town s statutory authority because A dkins Av enue w as an active ly used public s treet. 17 It believes 16 (...continued) made with the current public use and purpose in mind, not the proposed use. 17 SENA also proposes that the conveyance of Adk ins Avenue is a common law abandon ment, which would be permitted only if the road has not been used by the public or accepted for ma intenan ce by the T own. See Welker v. Strosnider, 22 M d. App . 401, 323 A.2d 626 (1974). This theory relies on the language in the McCrone Plat describing the transfer of the s treet bed of Ad kins A venue as an a bando nmen t. The abandonment language in the McCrone Plat cannot be read to be superior to the express language of Ordinance No. 466, which states that Adkins Avenue is to be closed and the street bed conveyed to SHS. SENA also alleges that the Town is restricted from conveying Adkins Avenue by the terms and conditions of the original grant, Art. 23A, § 2 (b) (24), relying on the proposed additional evidence proffered in its rejected motion to correct the record. It also suggests that there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the Town holds Adkins Avenue in fee simple or merely as a public right of way. There is no evidence before us regarding any terms or conditions regarding the Town s use of Adkins Avenue; thus, SENA s proposition that Adkins Avenue was intended only as a public street must, and does, fail. If the Town were to hold only a right-of-way, closing the road would revert title to the street bed to the abutting property owners, SHS and the Temple. Md. Code (1974, 2003 Repl. Vol.) § 2-114 of the Re al Prop erty Article .. See Md. Code (1974, 2003 Repl. Vol.) § 2-114 of the Real Property Article; Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Comm n v. McCaw, 246 (continued...) 25 that the authority to co nvey or sell public property under § 2 (b) (24) m ay be exercise d only after a findin g of no n-use. In other w ords, any contemp oraneou s or actual pu blic use wou ld preclud e the To wn fro m con veying th e street b ed. SENA relies on Cristofani v. Board of Education of Prince George s County , 98 Md. App. 90, 632 A.2d 447 (1993), to support its interpretation of Article 23A, § 2 (b) (24) requiring that any need associated with contemporaneous use would foreclose the Town from conveying the street bed. In that case, Judge Cathell, writing then for the Court of Special Appeals, explained that an incorporated municipality could not abandon land held in fee simple to a neighboring prop erty owner. He further explained, by means of an example, that mere non-use, w hich may co nstitute aban donmen t, was insuf ficient to transf er property held for a governmental purpose, without a le gislative determ ination purs uant to Ar ticle 23A, § 2 (b) (24) . Cristofani did not require the absence of use or need, but merely illustrated that if non-use existed alone, it would be an insufficient justification to conv ey the pro perty. Id. at 96-97, 632 A.2d at 450. In relying on the dicta in Cristofani, SENA ignores two principles of statutory construction. First, SEN A s interpre tation replace s needed with the term used in the statute, rendering needed nugatory and precluding any statutory effect being given to the ordinary meaning of the wo rd. Bd. of Educ. v. Lendo, 295 Md. 55, 63, 453 A.2d 1185, 1189 (1982). Second, to adopt SENA s interpretation of Article 23, § 2 (b) (24) would produce (...continued) Md. 662, 675 -76, 229 A.2d 5 84, 591 (1967) (citations om itted). 26 absurd results. Coerper v. Comptroller of Treasury, 265 Md. 3, 6, 288 A.2d 187, 188 (1972). Recognizing an absolute no-u se standard would permit one person to walk the length of Adkins Avenue, or any other public right of w ay, and thereby foreclose any conveyance of the roadbed, regardless of the Town Council s legislative determinations. SENA also argues that Ordinance No. 466 fails to mimic the exact language of § 2 (b) (24) and therefore a determination that Adkins Avenue is no longer needed may not be deduced from this record without the Town Council reciting the so-c alled m agic w ords. We have held that mere incantation of the magic w ords of a legal test, as an a dherence to form over substance, may not cause the Genie to appear and is neither required nor desired if actual consideration of the necessary legal considerations are apparent in the record. Cannon v. Cannon, 384 M d. 537, 559 , 865 A.2d 563, 576 (2005); Faulk v. Ewing, 371 Md. 284, 305, 80 8 A.2d 1262, 1 276 (2 002). Here, the Town Council decided to close Adkins Avenue and transfer the street bed to SHS and the Temple only after its Planning & Zoning Commission, Town Engineer, Town Planner, and a staff report approved the closure without so much as a suggestion for any other future public use. If the closed street bed was needed for any other public use or purpose, the various town agencies and officials who pondered the fully revealed plans surely would have stated so. Although the Town Counc il did state that the portion of the street bed unconsumed by the Emergency Room expansion was no longer needed, there is sufficient substance in this record to support t he Circuit Court s 27 declaration that Ordinance No. 466 was legally correct and that the entire street bed was no longer needed. In the alternative, SENA argues that the statutory language forbids a balancing test between competing public uses and benefits. Both the Town Council s Amended Ordinance No. 466 and the Circuit Court s oral opinion suggested, to some degree, assignment of a greater public purpose in closing Adkins Avenue and building an expanded Emergency Room than in maintaining Adkins Avenue as is. Because Adkins Avenue is a street bed used by the public, S ENA argues, any co mparison to a subseq uent public use is not a proper consid eration w hen ex ercising the To wn s a uthority to conve y the pub lic prop erty. Even if § 2 (b) (24 ) disallowe d expressly a b alancing tes t, it allows a legislative body to convey property when that body determines the property is no longer needed. Town Charter Article II § 17 -A (3) gran ts the Town Council the authority to close Adkins Avenue and, presuming for purposes of this case, th e Town retains title to the stre et bed. Artic le 23A, § 2 (b) (24) controls only the authority to convey that property. Once closed, Adkins Avenue was no longer needed for use as a public right of way and no longer needed for any public purpose.18 18 The general weight of other authorities indicate a less demanding judicial standard when reviewing the closure and the c onveyanc e of a public str eet b y a municipality. Many states will not question the closure of a public street in the absence of arbitrary action, fraud, or collusio n. Mc Quillin , supra, at §30.187 at 122-23 (citing twenty-one jurisdictions). Other authorities support the contention that the mo tive of the municipality to close is not reviewable. The proposed purpose of the closure is rev iewable to determine whether this purpose is either ultra vires or for solely a private purpo se. Id. at § 30.186 at 114-15, n. 1, (continued...) 28 V. SENA argues that any transfer to SHS, a private entity, is for a private purpose, regardless of the eventual use to which the former street bed is put. SENA is correct that SHS is a priva te entity. See Baltimore County Hosp., Inc. v. Maryland Hosp. Serv., Inc., 234 Md. 427, 429-30, 200 A.2d 39, 42 (1964) (citing Levin v. Sinai Hosp., 186 Md. 174, 46 A.2d 298 (1946)). Adkins Avenue, SENA alleges, cannot be closed and conveyed to such a private e ntity. Ultimate ly, the characterization of the transfer with which we should be concerned is determined by its use, and not by the private sta tus of th e prope rty owne r. Perellis v. Mayor of Balt., 190 Md. 86, 92-95, 57 A.2d 341, 344-45 (1948). In Perellis, we considered the closing of a public street and held that it was solely for the private advantage of one private proper ty owne r. Id. at 95, 57 A.2d at 345. The eventual use of the closed street was to permit the private property owner to construct a building connecting two detached commercial properties. At the sam e time, other p roperty own ers abutting o nto the pub lic street would lose access to their properties by the closing of the public street. Ultimately, we stated that Marylan d courts m ust determin e from th e facts of each case presented whether the primary purpose or effect is public or private. Id. at 95, 57 A.2d at 346. Even though the property owner w as to pay the co st of the cha nges to the street and offer the City use of 18 (...continued) 2 (citing sixteen jurisdictions, including Perellis v. M ayor of Ba lt., 190 Md. 86, 57 A.2d 341 (1948)). Only two jurisdictions support the concept of a n o use s tandard . Id. at § 30.186 .10 at 12 1-22, n . 26, 27 ( Califo rnia and New Jersey). 29 an adjacent vacant lot for a ne w right of way, the even tual private use vitiated the entire transaction. Id. In contrast, in Jenkin s v. Riggs, 100 Md. 427, 59 A. 758 (1905) and Riggs v. Winterode, 100 Md. 439, 59 A. 762 (1905), 19 we examined a street closure in which Baltimore County closed a publicly used road (pursuant to then § 12 of Article 25 of the Code of Public General Laws) that bisected Riggs Farm. In that case, the existing road had been in public use for more than a century as a connecting road and was in need of repair. Jenkins, 100 Md. at 429, 59 A. at 759. Somewhat like the condition of the record before the Court in the present case, there was no evidence that Baltimore County had acquired title to the road be d. Id. According to an agreement with Baltimore County, Riggs graded two new roads on his property, both of which avoided the center of his farming operations, and conveyed title to the se road s to Bal timore C ounty, w hich, w ith pub lic fund s, paved w ith asphalt one of the road s. Id. at 433-34, 59 A. at 760. In upholding the closing of the existing public street, we upheld the County s decision to close the old road, to which it had questionab le title, for the conve nience of the p ublic. Winterode, 100 Md. at 449, 59 A. at 766. In a case wh ere the party at issue was a hospital, we held that the authorization of the issuance of public b onds w here som e of the pro ceeds from that sale would be provided to a private hospital would be for a public purp ose. Finan v. Mayor of Cumberland, 154 Md. 19 The Riggs cases involved two separate appeals regarding the same road closure. Both appeal s we re de cide d on the same day. 30 563, 141 A. 269 (1928). In that case, the Town of Cumberland issued bonds with 20% of the proceeds to be directed to an existing private entity, the Allegany Hospital of Sisters of Cha rity, for improvements and additions to the ex isting ho spital. Id. at 564, 141 A. at 270. We ultimately conc luded that th e use of p ublic funds by a private entity was acceptable when the eventual use of those funds, the erection and maintenance of a hospital for the benefit of the pub lic, was a suffic iently pub lic use. Id. at 565-67, 141 A. at 270-71. The record bef ore the To wn Co uncil and the Circuit Court in the present case provides ample illustration of the public purpose of the Hospital. The proposed expansion of the Emergency Room is also factually more similar to Finan and Riggs than Perellis. The necessity of the Em ergency Ro om cons titutes a public purpose that promotes clearly the public welfare.20 Amended Ordinance No. 466 states that the new facility to be constructed across the street bed wou ld serve a n undeniably public purpos e and benefit, nam ely, facilitating the provision of emergency and outpatient care services to the residents of the Town . . . . The Circu it Court s de claration is lega lly correct. 20 Because the Hospital operates an emergency room, SHS stated (in a statement of grounds and authorities in support of its motion for summ ary judgmen t before the Circuit Court) that 42 U.S .C.S. § 139 5dd (Lex is 2001) pre vented it from du mping p atients deemed unable to pay for me dical care an d required it to evaluate an d stabilize all individuals that enter the Hospital with an emerg ency me dical co ndition . Hardy v. New York City Health and Hosps. Corp., 164 F.3d 789, 792 (2nd Cir. 1999) ; Bryan v. Rectors and Visitors of the Univ. of Virginia, 95 F.3d 349, 351 (4th Cir. 1996). This assertion (which SENA did not contest) also contributes to the public use and public benefit of the Emergency Room. 31 VI. As its last stan d in this liti gation, SENA alleges that Ju dge Ho rne abuse d his discretio n in refu sing to re cuse hi mself. In regard to such a pretrial motion, we have held that the party moving for recusal bears a heavy burden to overcome the presumption of impartiality. Attorney Grievance Comm n v. Blum, 373 Md. 275, 297, 818 A.2d 219, 232 (2003) (quoting Attorney Grievance Comm n v. Shaw, 363 Md. 1, 11, 766 A.2d 1028, 1033 (2001). Judges occupy a distinguished and decisive position . . . [requiring them] to maintain high standards of condu ct. Jefferson-E l v. State, 330 Md. 99, 106, 622 A.2d 737, 741 (1993) (citations omitted). Unless gr ounds fo r mandato ry recusal are met, a judge s decision not to recuse himself or herself will be overturned only upon a show ing of a n abus e of dis cretion. Surratt v. Prince G eorge s C ounty, 320 Md. 439, 465, 578 A.2d 745, 757-58 (1990). An abuse of discretion standard is objective w hether a rea sonable m ember of the public k nowing all the circumstan ces wou ld be led to th e conclusio n that the judge s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. In re Turney, 311 Md. 246 , 253, 533 A.2d 9 16, 920 (1987). Recognized grounds im plicating po ssible partiality include a significant financial interest in a party or outcome, a pre-judicial relationship as an attorney with a party or coun sel for a party, or a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party. Md. Rule 16-813, Canon 3C. 32 In this case, SENA did not allege any grounds consistent with the requirements for mandatory recusal. 21 The essence of the initial motion was that Judge Horne might be partial to SHS for fear that a ruling adverse to SHS s interests might result in the deprivation of adequate medical ca re to Judge Horne or his wife, who was seriously ill. SENA could not overcome the presumption of judicial impartiality, however, because it never mustered any evidence of an instance of partiality by Judge Horne toward SHS. Judge Horne recognized this and weighed sufficiently SENA s contention, stating: I share your opinion an d if I had a s cintilla of a concern that my decision in this case w ould be slante d in a ny directio n by a fear of retaliation on the part of anyone or the hope or expectation of reward from anyon e I would not hesitate to remove myself. . . I feel that there is a presumption that judge s are honorab le people who understand the oath that they took to decide cases fairly and impartia lly. SENA s second contention, that Judge Horne s conduct ro se to the leve l of that in Surratt, blurs the line between personal and judicial conduct. In Surratt, we permitted counsel to move for recusal and have the motion heard by a different judge when personal misconduct between the sitting judge and counsel was alleged sufficiently. 320 Md. at 466, 578 A.2d at 758. The asserted basis for recusal was alleged long-standing sexual harassment 21 Article IV, § 7 of the Maryland Constitution states: No judge sha ll sit in any case wherein he may be interested, or where either of the parties may be connected with him, by affinity or consanguinity, within such degrees as now are not, or may hereafter be prescribed by Law, or where he shall have been of counsel in the case. 33 by the male judge of the fema le counsel th at was atteste d to by couns el on the rec ord. While we made no conclusions about the accuracy of the allegations, we concluded that the alleged sexual harassment raised serious issues regarding the judge s personal condu ct. Id. at 469, 578 A.2d at 760. We have defined personal conduct as derived from an extra-judicial source . . . , Jefferson-El, 330 Md. at 107, 622 A.2d at 741, and held that the Surratt procedure is not availab le when charges against the trial judge do not involve any personal miscon duct. Surratt, 320 Md. at 767, 578 A.2d at 759 (citing State v. Calhoun, 306 Md. 692, 746, 511 A .2d 461, 488 (198 6)) . On the record in the present case, Judge Horne asked SE NA s c ounsel fo r specific examples of his impermissible judicial conduct. Each example listed by SENA s counsel involved examples of adverse ru lings or dec isions mad e by Judge H orne in a judicial setting. None rose nearly to the level of the alleged sexual harassment in Surratt. JUDGMENT OF TH E CIRC UIT COURT FOR TALBOT COUNTY AFFIRMED. COSTS TO BE PAID BY APPELLAN TS. 34