UPDATE: Trial Date Set for Belward Farm, JHU Case
Judge Ronald Rubin announces date Friday at a scheduling hearing.
(UPDATED, 3:30 p.m., 7/6) -- The development dispute between the successors of Belward Farm and Johns Hopkins University is one small but significant step closer to a resolution.
At a hearing Friday, Judge Ronald Rubin scheduled a trial date for Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Circuit Court of Montgomery County in Rockville, according to a statement from the plaintiff.
The decision comes after Judge John W. Debelius, III approved a request by JHU to fast-track the lawsuit in May. The university originally moved to delay proceedings after the Montgomery County Circuit Court refused to dismiss the legal action brought by Tim Newell on Nov. 10, 2011, on behalf of his aunt, Elizabeth Beall Banks, and her two siblings, who sold the property to JHU.
View court documents as PDF's on the right.
Newell is the lead plaintiff and family spokeperson.
Newell said the university's plan to build a “Science City” on the 138-acre farm is a form of profiteering and violates the use restrictions outlined in the ownership transfer.
“We remain confident that once the Court understands the full context under which Belward Farm was donated to Johns Hopkins University, the University will be required to fulfill their agreement to build a Johns Hopkins owned-and-operated university campus on the property – not a multimillion dollar real estate complex,” Newell said in a statement Friday.
University spokeswoman Robin Ferrier wrote in an e-mail Friday that school officials believe moving the case along is in the best interest of all involved.
The university did not comment on whether it would appeal a resolution that sides with Newell.
"We are focused on the Circuit Court," she said. "We remain confident that the court will agree that nothing in the contract or deed restricts the scale, height, or density of development of the campus or prevents the university from leasing to other parties there."
Proceedings could end as soon as Monday, Nov. 19, said Sonia Blumstein, Newell's public relations representative.
The following is a case schedule provided by Blumstein:
- Aug. 3 – Deadline to submit expert witnesses.
- Sept. 4 - Deadline to submit discovery.
- Sept. 19 – Deadline to file depositive motions.
- Oct. 26 – Hearing on summary judgement (if requested by parties)
- Nov. 9 – Settlement pre-trial hearing
Other officials have been eager to incorporate the land, given to JHU in 1989, in upcoming projects.
The Montgomery County Transit Task Force released a report in late May that outlined its plans for a bus rapid transit (BRT) network and according to a graphic posted in The Washington Post, the BRT network could cut through the farm.
The Montgomery County Council approved the "Science City" plan in 2010 after more than two years of debate.
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