Fight for former church continues

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

Judge refuses to kill lawsuit against friars

April 29, 2006|By JILL ROSEN | JILL ROSEN,SUN REPORTER

A grass-roots group with dreams of turning a former Fells Point church into a Slavic heritage museum won a small victory in court this week as a judge refused to dismiss their case against Franciscan friars with other plans for the site.

Months ago, the group sued the friars, who own the St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church building on South Ann Street.

They contend that the friars reneged on a deal to sell them the building, giving it instead to developers with plans to expand a nearby Catholic school and build townhouses.

Baltimore Circuit Judge John C. Themelis denied the friars' motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

With a trial set for October, construction plans appear to be on hold.

Though the museum boosters gave the judge a standing ovation, the Rev. Robert A. Twele, treasurer of the Franciscans' St. Anthony of Padua Province, was disappointed with the judgment.

"I think we're wasting time and money," he said.

Twele said that because the friars never signed a contract with the grass-roots group, they never broke an agreement. The judge's ruling indicates the case might not be so simple.

"Everyone knows it's not over until it's signed on the dotted line," Twele said. "Evidently, there's maybe more nuance to that."

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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