Brickyard Soccer Field Project Open To Future Amendments
Potomac land use attorney Michele Rosenfeld weighs in on the county's pending lease with Montgomery County Soccer, Inc., to develop the Brickyard Road school site into soccer fields.
The county’s pending agreement to turn the Brickyard Road school site into soccer fields legally requires Montgomery County to uphold certain promises to the Potomac community. But that agreement is also open to future revisions, according to a Potomac land use attorney.
In the face of public outrage over the loss of a 30-year-old organic farm and worries about impact on neighborhood life, County Executive Ike Legget (D) made several promises to the Potomac community. He told residents that any agreement with a soccer company would include stipulations limiting artificial lighting, artificial turf and hours of operation. When the decision was made to sublease the land to Montgomery County Soccer, Inc., Patch readers and the Brickyard Coalition expressed concern that the pending lease contained loopholes that would allow artificial turf and lighting on the site.
The county maintains that the lease addresses these issues, but a Potomac attorney and former counsel for Montgomery County Planning Board Michele Rosenfeld says the lease is open to modification.
"What is in the proposal is binding as far as the lease is concerned," Rosenfeld said. "Since this is a contractual agreement between two parties -- there is not much to limit how they change that in the future."
According to Patrick Lacefield, spokesman for Montgomery County, the lease addresses artificial lighting and turf in Section 6A of the contract:
"The Parties agree that the Sublessee is solely responsible for the design permitting and construction of the Improvements, as described in the Proposal and Amendments to the Proposal, which are attached hereto … and incorporated as if fully set forth." (emphasis added)
MSI’s proposal addresses the issues stating:
"MSI proposes no field lighting," and "MSI proposes no synthetic turf playing fields."
"By saying that they incorporate the proposal by reference into the lease, it really is the same as if they had copied it an added the terms verbatim," Rosenfeld said. "At this point they couldn't add any [turf or lighting], unless there is a modification to the lease, but here is nothing to prevent an amendment to the lease in the future."
Such modifications may not require much in the way of public process, Rosenfeld said, and some community members say they’d expect as much from the county.
“We don't trust anything that we hear from the county," said Brickyard Coalition member Keith Williams. “Their whole goal was to push this through without reflecting the concerns of the county. It just feels like legal words that we can't really trust."
The community has until April 13 to submit responses to the county’s lease with MSI.
"If public comment is that the agreement doesn't say this and it doesn't say that, then we need to go back and fix that," said David Dise, director of the county's general services department. "We have made commitments to the public in meetings and in writing and we want to abide by those commitments."