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Hopkins, Former Heirs, File Cross-Motions for Judgment on Belward Farm

Both Hopkins and Tim Newell, the lead plaintiff and spokesperson for the donor family, file motions for summary judgment in lawsuit against the university.

Both sides in a dispute over control of Belward Farm have cross-filed motions asking the court to rule in their favor and immediately end litigation over whether Johns Hopkins University may build a mega commercial research center on the property.

Attorneys for Johns Hopkins maintain the school's plan is well within the scope of an agreement signed in 1989 that transferred the property from then-owner Elizabeth Banks to the school.

In his cross-motion, however, Tim Newell, representing the family, contends the farm was specifically donated for the school to use it for academic purposes -- not a commercial enterprise.

The family's lawsuit seeks to prevent the university from building a 4.7 million-square-foot commercial science park on the property.

 on the farm.

In its motion, the university argues the contract is the only fact before the judge that matters, and that a key 18-word phrase — that any development will be limited to “agricultural, academic, research and development, delivery of health and medical care and services, or related purposes only" — does not restrict the density of development, the height of buildings, or the university's right to lease to non-Johns Hopkins tenants.

The university also stated that it believes evidence shows that Johns Hopkins intended that Belward be a research center, not an education site, and is not restricted in any way by agreements beyond the contract language.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Newell filed a motion of their own, arguing that evidence clearly proves JHU is in violation of its agreement with Elizabeth Banks.

"Based on all that we've learned during discovery and from our fact and expert witness, we are more confident than ever in the merits of our case," Newell said in a statement. "The facts are indisputable and the law is on our side, so we are hopeful the court will grant summary judgment in our favor and deny Hopkins' request for summary judgment."

localron September 27, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Go for it! The last thing we need around here is a scientific research city.
Donna Baron (Scale-it-back.com) September 27, 2012 at 01:02 PM
According to the master plan, only 40% of the development on Belward Farm is required to be "science-related". If the farm is covered with buildings up to 14-stories high, and 60% of the companies are non-science related, it will not be a park of any sort and certainly not a science park. It will be exactly what Johns Hopkins proposes it will be…a huge money-making commercial real estate venture. The university officials have not committed to occupy any of the buildings on the farm but will offer ground leases to other companies. Elizabeth Banks sold Belward Farm to Johns Hopkins University for the gift price of $5 million instead of its appraised value of $ 54 million because the University officials convinced her that their low-rise Hopkins campus would maintain the character of her historic Civil War-era farm and provide a legacy for her family, who had owned the farm for over 100 years. The University and the family agreed upon a plan while Elizabeth Banks was alive but Hopkins did not follow through on that plan. They waited for Ms. Banks to die and then they proposed the new plan for a massive high-rise commercial office complex. There is no honor or integrity in this deal; it is all about the money.

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