Developer Martin K. P. Hill filed a lawsuit yesterday against the homeowners association of a Hampstead subdivision, seeking $10 million in damages and permission to continue work on a storm water management facility at his Roberts Field condominium project.
The suit comes after a confrontation Monday in which Hill's construction crew was ordered off the project work site and threatened with arrest for trespassing. The incident involved three Hampstead police officers, the town manager and the president of the Fields Homeowners Association.
The association says that the developer has no authority to build a storm water runoff pond on association-owned land that has been designated for open space use.
Hill's lawsuit, filed in Carroll County Circuit Court, states that the property owned by the homeowners association has a storm water management easement allowing the construction of a bio-retention basin as part of the condominium development.
The lawsuit contends that Hampstead officials granted final approval to the condominium project in January 1994, including a storm water management plan.
Neither Hill nor his lawyer, Clark R. Shaffer, could be reached for comment yesterday.
John Maguire, the attorney representing the Fields Homeowners Association, said that the group intends to "defend the lawsuit vigorously."
"The homeowners' position is that the developer does not have any right or easement to come on association property to construct anything," Maguire said.
Michelle Ostrander, the attorney representing Hampstead, said she plans to discuss with town officials whether the town will take legal action.
The controversy over the storm water facility is the latest in a series of clashes between Hill and Hampstead officials over the proposed 90-unit condominium project. In December, the County Commissioners issued a grading permit for the development over the objections of town officials, who said the project violated open space and density regulations.
Members of the homeowners association have expressed concern about possible erosion and flooding resulting from the construction of the storm water management pond.
The lawsuit describes the bio-retention pond as an "innocuous, minimal and inoffensive" 6-foot deep basin intended to filter pollutants from storm water runoff before reaching a nearby stream. The suit states that the device will not interfere with residents' use of the land for "open space and passive recreation."
In the lawsuit, Hill says that he will suffer "immediate, substantial and irreparable injury" unless he is allowed to proceed with construction of the storm water facility. Under an adequate facilities law passed by Hampstead Town Council in November, Hill's approved site plan for the condominium project may expire Sept. 18 unless significant construction is completed by that time, the lawsuit asserts.
Hill's Water Quality Certification permit from the state BTC Department of the Environment specifies that stream work must be done between May 1 and Sept. 30.
After learning of the property dispute, state environment officials amended the permit to require Hill to obtain the association's written consent to build the storm water facility.
If the association fails to approve the facility, the revised permit requires Hill to find another site for the runoff basin.
Pub Date: 8/30/96