State Center appeal to be heard next term

March 04, 2013|By Steve Kilar

Maryland's highest court plans to wait until its next term to hear the State Center lawsuit appeal, according to the court's website.

The Court of Appeals' term starts on the second Monday of September.

In mid-February the court said it would hear the appeal, allowing the case to skip the state's intermediate appellate court. Both sides are interested in having the case resolved as quickly as possible.

Here's some background on the case from an earlier Real Estate Wonk post:

In January, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Althea M. Handy voided the development contracts that set up a framework for a mixed-use overhaul of a 28-acre site in midtown Baltimore that houses several state agencies.

If her decision stands after the Court of Appeals' review, it would effectively kill the current plans for the State Center redevelopment, which has been in the pipeline since the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

In 2010, a group of business owners and landlords filed suit, alleging that the development contracts were illegitimate. Those contracts should have followed Maryland procurement laws, they argued. Handy agreed.

The project's developers, with the state's Department of General Services and the Department of Transportation, appealed her decision. 

Here are the issues that the Court of Appeals has been asked to address (quoted directly from the court's website):

1) Did the trial court err in concluding that the State Center Project violates state procurement law on the grounds that the project is not a simple disposition of land but "a complex, creative way to develop" land owed by the State that should have been subject to the requirement of competitive sealed proposals?

2) Does the Circuit Court for Baltimore City lack jurisdiction to address appellee's claim that the project violates state procurement law because such claims fall within the primary or exclusive jurisdiction of the MD State Board of Contract Appeals?

3) Do appellees lack standing, under the taxpayer standing theory, to challenge the project because they failed to allege facts to support either their claim of illegal, ultra vires action or their contention that they will suffer special damage if the project proceeds?

4) Did the trial court err in declining to review the belated designation of the project as a Transit-Oriented Development, a designation which permitted the project to be prioritized and receive substantial site-selection and other benefits?

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