Judge allows developer to resume work Hill given go-ahead on controversial storm water project

Builder sued association

Court doesn't address his request for $10 million damages

September 04, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

A Carroll circuit judge ruled yesterday that developer Martin K. P. Hill may resume construction of a storm water management facility on property owned by the homeowners association of a Hampstead subdivision.

Hill filed a lawsuit last week against the Fields Homeowners Association seeking $10 million in damages and permission to build a bio-retention basin, a necessary part of his Roberts Field condominium project. The action came two days after his construction crew was ordered off the work site by Hampstead police and threatened with arrest for trespass.

Judge Raymond E. Beck agreed with Hill's argument that approved site plans for the condominium development show that a storm water management area is located on association-owned land.

Hill argued that the association property is designated as a 100-year flood plain and has an easement that allows construction of a storm water management device.

Beck said that the storm water easement indicates "what the property was set aside for," although the exact type of drainage facility to be built was never specified.

The judge did not address Hill's request in the lawsuit for monetary damages.

Hill declined to comment on the judge's ruling, and said he doesn't know when he will resume construction at the condominium site.

Mary Jo Pollock, president of the Fields Homeowners Association, could not be reached for comment.

John Maguire, the attorney representing the association, argued yesterday that the easement cited by Hill on a record plat does not give him the authority to build a storm water device on land that had been designated for open space.

He also said that the 1988 deed conveying the land to the homeowners association contains no reference to a storm water easement.

"What was done was a very sloppy job when the property was conveyed to the homeowners association," Maguire said. "If you're going to convey something and you need to retain rights, do it explicitly."

Hill's attorney, Clark R. Shaffer, said it has been evident "since day one" of the Roberts Field condominium development process where the storm water management facilities would be located.

"One would have to go far afield to make the claim that this is something the developer is trying to sneak in on somebody," Shaffer said.

Hill testified yesterday that he has obtained all the required site plan approvals -- including a storm water management plan -- for the 90-unit condominium project from local, state and federal authorities.

He said sewer lines and storm drains have been installed at the development site and sediment control work has begun.

In order to proceed with his development as approved, Hill said he must build the bio-retention basin, as required by the Maryland Department of the Environment, to filter pollutants from storm water runoff before it reaches a nearby stream.

Hill claimed 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 the Hampstead Town Council in November, Hill's site plan for the condominium project could expire Sept. 18 unless significant construction is finished by then, the suit states.

Pub Date: 9/04/96

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