No School Means No Pool

Reneged Deal Leaves Standoff Continuing

August 04, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

The county is not allowing the developers of the Seven Oaks residential community to build a swimming pool and tennis courts because the company defaulted July 1 on its third and final payment for an elementary school for the Odenton site.

"We are enforcing our agreement," said Deputy County Attorney Stephen LeGendre. "Give us the money orface the consequences. It is unfortunate it has come to this, but I don't know what else to do."

The county's refusal to issue permits has brought a terse response from the Halle Cos. that is building the planned unit development near the intersection of routes 175 and 32.

The company circulated a memo telling residents to call county officials and complain.

"Today is the 10th day in a row that the temperature is above 90 degrees," the memo, dated July 24, says. "The permit for your swimming poolhas been approved by Anne Arundel County. County officials will not allow the permit to be issued."

Former Gov. Marvin Mandel, who represents the Halle Cos., said the county is only hurting innocent people who don't have a pool to swim in. "They are depriving the community of a swimming pool," he said. "Everyone is blaming (Warren E.) Halle for a situation he didn't create."

But county officials disagreeand sent their own letter to Seven Oaks residents who have respondedto Halle's memo by phoning county offices.

The letter says the county has no choice but to enforce the agreement.

"To do otherwise would delay or sacrifice construction of your school, an improvement that simply cannot be delayed or sacrificed."

"He is bringing on the problem by not paying," said LeGendre, adding that he is not withholding building permits for other portions of the project. He said builders who have bought parcels in Seven Oaks will be allowed to continue.

He said he is withholding permits for the pool, tennis courtsand some town houses being built by Halle. He said the current policy could be re-examined if Halle tried to convey additional parcels tobuilders to get around the order.

The actions stem from a lawsuitthe county filed last month, attempting to collect a $2.1 million installment from Halle, the second time the developer failed to make a payment for the school.

In July 1990, Halle purposely defaulted onthe second installment -- also $2.1 million -- saying the county reneged on a deal to enlarge the Patuxent Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Without the expansion, Halle says he can only build about 2,900 homes in Seven Oaks, about half the 4,700 originally planned. The reduction of homes, Halle contends, eliminates the need for a new school.

Halle has sued the county for $18 million, seeking the money the company had invested in roads and parks and the first $500,000 school payment in make in 1989, when it signed the contract with the county, agreeing to pay $4.7 million toward construction of the elementary school.

Halle had signed a letter of credit with a bank guaranteeinghe would pay the second installment, and in November he failed to get a court injunction preventing the county from cashing the letter in. Sovran Bank paid the $2.1 million, giving the county a total of $2.6 million toward building the school.

But Halle never signed a letter of credit with the county for the third installment, prompting LeGendre to warn in December that he might withhold building and occupancy permits in Seven Oaks.

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