Halle Vp Says Builder, County Nearing Deal On School

December 18, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Negotiations between the developer of the Seven Oaks residential community and the county over $2.1 million for an elementary school could wrap up by the end of the year with a compromise, the developer says.

"I think that working in good faith, everyone is going to end up compromising somewhat," said Stephen N. Fleischman, vice president of the Halle Cos., the builder of the 4,700-unit Seven Oaks development in Odenton.

Deputy County Attorney Stephen LeGendre would say only that discussions between lawyers are ongoing. He would not say if an end or a compromise is in sight.

"Hopefully, we can wrap this up," he said. "There certainly has been a lot of ground covered."

Both LeGendre and Fleischman declined to elaborate on the discussions or say what sorts of compromises are being discussed.

Five months ago, the county filed suit against the Halle Cos., attempting to collect the thirdand final payment for the planned school on the Odenton site.

The$2.1 million installment was due July 1, but Halle officials purposely withheld payment because of a dispute with the county over expansion of the Patuxent Wastewater Treatment Plant.

LeGendre said he filed suit because talks had broken off. But discussions resumed after LeGendre pulled building permits for a pool and tennis courts. A court date scheduled for September was indefinitely postponed.

The latest school installment was the second time developer Warren Halle failed to make a payment for the school. In July 1990, he purposely defaulted on the second installment -- also $2.1 million -- saying the county reneged on a deal to enlarge the Patuxent plant.

Without the plant expansion, Halle said last year, he can build only about 2,900 homes in Seven Oaks, eliminating 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 it made in 1989, when it signed the contract with the county.

Hallehad signed a letter of credit with a bank guaranteeing he would pay the second installment. Last November, he failed to get a court injunction preventing the county from cashing the letter in when he defaulted.

Sovran Bank paid the $2.1 million, giving the county a total of $2.6 million toward building the school.

But Halle never signeda letter of credit with the county for the third installment, prompting the lawsuit and the pulling of permits.

Fleischman said last week that the lawyers were still talking and "would probably reach some type of settlement" by the end of the year.

But, he said, "Everything is still up in the air."

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