Court Rules in Favor of Johns Hopkins on Belward Farm Development

Family of former farm owner considering appeal, blogger writes.


A Montgomery County Circuit judge ruled Friday that a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University seeking to block the university's plans to develop a science park on the former Belward Farm should not proceed.

Judge Ronald B. Rubin ruled in favor of Johns Hopkins' motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit filed against the university by Timothy Newell and others regarding plans to build a 4.7 million-square-foot commercial science park on the property.

Heirs of the farm's former owner say the size and the scope of the science park go far beyond the small campus that was envisioned when majority owner Elizabeth Banks agreed to sell the farm to Hopkins in 1989. 

The decision effectively ends the case, barring an appeal.

Johns Hopkins released the following statement on Friday:

“Johns Hopkins is, and always will be, grateful to Miss Banks and her relatives for the gift of their property. We have lived up to, and will always live up to, our agreement with them.

“We will need time to fully assess the judge’s decision. But, obviously, we are greatly pleased with his ruling that the university’s agreement with the Banks family is clear and unambiguous. Our focus now will be on proceeding, over time, with development of the Belward Research Campus. We will proceed in a responsible manner, in consultation with the community and in support of Montgomery County’s vision for its economic development.”

Donna Baron, coordinator of the The Gaithersburg-North Potomac-Rockville Coalition, who has blogged regularly on the case, wrote on Patch on Friday that she had spoken with Newell.

Newell, the nephew of Banks, said he would discuss a possible appeal with his lawyer, Baron wrote.

"It is such a disappointment but it is not unlike most issues in the county where the residents object to the county’s plans," wrote Baron. "In the end, the county does exactly what they decided to do in the first place."

Donna Baron (Scale-it-back.com) October 27, 2012 at 09:52 PM
"We will proceed in a responsible manner, in consultation with the community and in support of Montgomery County’s vision for its economic development.” The community would like to see Johns Hopkins honor Ms. Banks' wishes to maintain the character of the farm with a low-rise Hopkins academic or research campus as they originally promised to do. Johns Hopkins and the County want to jam as much commercial development as they possibly can onto the farm in order to make lots of money. Guess who wins this one! In regard to the idea of a "science park". A massive 4.7 million square foot commercial development for 15,000 people will not resemble a park of any sort. Also, the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan only requires that 40% of the development be science-related. 60% can be almost anything else. So it certainly won't be a "science park". Call it what it is: a massive money making commercial real estate venture, especially since Hopkins has not committed to occupy any of the buildings on the farm. Instead, they are offering 99-year ground leases.
Theresa Defino October 28, 2012 at 02:26 AM
This is a terrible outcome. I hope the heirs appeal and prevail.
Lisa October 28, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Greed is alive and well — even in "academia." When I asked the Hopkins representative two years ago what they planned to DO at the proposed Belward facility, she basically said, they have no need for it/no plans. I pushed and said, than why not leave it alone. She shrugged. With so many office buildings in our area posting "for lease," I cannot believe there is a need for another science center. Clearly, Judge Rubin doesn't live here.
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