A dispute between a developer and the county over a $2.1 million payment for a new Odenton elementary school is headed for court.
The Halle companies has filed an $18 million lawsuit against the county, claiming it should be exempt from paying for some roads, parks and the school under the county's adequate public facilities rules.
Halle says that because the County Council voted in May against expanding the Patuxent Wastewater Treatment Plant, the company cannot build 2,000 of its planned 4,700 homes in its Seven Oaks development. Since the company has to reduce by nearly 50 percent the number of homes it builds, it shouldn't be required to pay for all the amenities it had agreed to, company officials argue.
But the county points to agreements signed by Halle promising to pay $4.7 million for the school, which will be used by children living in Seven Oaks.
Halle agreed to pay the county in three installments. The company paid $500,000 in 1989 and was to pay $2.1 million on July 1, 1990. Another payment is due next July 1. But Halle refused to pay the second installment.
Stephen Fleischman, vice president of Halle, said the company had been negotiating with the county on revising payments, but could not come to an agreement.
When Halle refused to pay, the county started to prepare a letter of credit to be sent to Halle's bank, which is a legal document guaranteeing payment. But Halle filed the suit to block the action. The company also wants back some of the money it already has paid the county. The case will be heard in County Circuit Court Oct. 24.
Steve LeGendre, deputy county attorney, said he was unsure exactly why Halle defaulted on the payment. "He (Fleischman) indicated to me in correspondence that there was a downturn in the market," he said.
Fleischman said he made many agreements with various county agencies, spelling out which types of public facilities amenities for which Halle would pay. "Everybody knew from day one that one agreement was not good without the other."
He said the expansion of the waste water treatment plant was part of the agreement, and since the council voted not to expand it, the agreements Halle made with the state no longer make sense.
"All we are trying to do is say that the amount of money allocated to a school should mirror the number of homes we are allowed to build," Fleischman said.