Update, 6:00 p.m.: The Board of Education President Shirley Brandman released a statement regarding yesterday's settlement of the Brickyard circuit court case.
“The Board of Education is pleased that the county has reached a tentative agreement regarding the current and future use of the Brickyard Road site. We believe it is in the public’s best interest to minimize legal costs when possible and this settlement meets that goal. The board’s primary interest is ensuring that this property is available to the district should we need to build a school in the future. Until then, it is our hope this site can be used to serve the neighborhood and the citizens of Montgomery County.”
The Montgomery County Board of Education and Nick Maravell settled out of court yesterday, after Montgomery County agreed to extend Maravell's lease of the land to Aug. 15, 2012. The terms of the settlement between Maravell and the BOE have not been released.
Update, 4:30 p.m.: Nick Maravell says he welcomes the farming extension granted in the Brickyard case settlement with the Montgomery County Board of Education. "It gives me hope that we can continue to advance our desire to use the fields for education services," he said.
That work will have to wait for the time being though. Now that the circuit court case is closed, Maravell says he is ready to focus his attention back to more personal matters.
"I have things in my personal life like farming and the holidays," he said.
Original story, Thursday 11 a.m.: Nick Maravell will continue to work Nick's Organic Farm on Brickyard Road for another year.
Maravell and the Montgomery County Board of Education settled out of court Wednesday, canceling today's scheduled circuit court hearing to determine if the BOE acted inappropriately in transferring Maravell's lease to the county.
"The terms of the settlement are confidential as between the board and Mr. Maravell, but the county agreed to extend the terms of the lease," said Nick Maravell's attorney, Jim Parsons of Rockville. Maravell will be allowed to continue farming the land through August 15, 2012, Parsons said.
The issue was scheduled to be heard in Montgomery County Circuit Court today 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 claims that residents were not properly clued in to the board's actions.
The Open Meetings Act is a sunshine law that requires local governments and school boards to make meetings open and available to the public. The Maryland Open Meetings Law Compliance Board had stated earlier this year that Montgomery County residents were not made sufficiently aware of the proceedings.
Maravell and his attorney, Jim Parsons of Rockville, filed suit in court in July claiming that the sunshine law had been violated, and that the court should therefore reject the county’s claim on the land.
An appeal is still pending in front of the Maryland State Board of Education, though a date has yet to be set.
"We will continue with the state board appeal," Parsons said.