In exchange for dismissing the Brickyard case in front of the Montgomery County Circuit Court, the Montgomery County Board of Education agreed to pay court costs in a settlement with Nick Maravell of Nick's Organic Farm.
The settlement agreement, released to Patch on Wednesday states:
"The [Montgomery County Board of Education] disputes Plaintiffs' and [Nick's Organic Farm]'s allegations, but wishes to avoid the cost of continuing to litigate the Circuit Court Litigation. So that the Circuit Court Litigation will be terminated without the cost of trial and subsequent appeals, the Board has agreed to pay the documented attorneys' fees incurred by Plaintiffs to prosecute the Circuit Court Litigation…"
The BOE will pay up to $10,000 of the costs.
Montgomery County, a second defendant in the case, agreed to extend the license for Nick's Organic Farm to stay on Brickyard Road until August 2012.
The settlement was reached in mid-December and ended one of two legal cases surrounding the Brickyard property. The Circuit Court case was to determine if the Montgomery County BOE violated the Open Meetings Act when it gave the Brickyard Road lease to Montgomery County. Maravell had been farming a plot of land at Brickyard Road on lease from the board of education for more than 30 years, before the board voted in March of 2011 to lease the land to the county to develop into soccer fields. Maravell was not given the opportunity to renew his lease when the BOE voted to give the land to the county. Maravell's suit against the board claimed that residents were not properly clued in to the board's actions.
The Maryland Open Meetings Law Compliance Board had stated earlier this year that Montgomery County residents were not made sufficiently aware of the proceedings.
December's settlement releases the BOE from all claims alleging a violation of the Open Meetings Act asserted in Maravell's suit. The settlement does not affect the outcome of Maravell's second case before the Maryland State Board of Education.
Maravell will continue with the second case, which will decide if the Montgomery County BOE acted appropriately when granting ownership of the lease to Montgomery County. The case has been with the state board for several months now, but remains undecided. According to Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, the state board is scheduled to meet January 24, but the agenda has not yet been set.
Calls to lawyers of both parties were not returned by press-time.
What do you think of the settlement? Let us know in the comments!