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County to discuss agreeement that could end lawsuit

February 13, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners are expected to discuss and possibly vote Tuesday on an agreement with Westfields LLC that would result in the Frederick, Md., developer dropping a $7.5 million lawsuit against the county.

The agreement would allow Westfields, which is building a 773-unit development off Sharpsburg Pike, to proceed with the project by constructing a certain number of houses a year through 2016.

The County Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the agreement at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday in the commissioners meeting room in the Washington County Administration Building, according to the commissioners' meeting agenda.

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The county said in September it halted the development several months earlier because there was no room in area schools to handle enrollment increases.

Under the proposed agreement, Westfields would give land to the Board of Education for a new elementary school, prepare the site so the school could be built and pay the county the appropriate school fees and building excise tax for the development.

Washington County would work with Westfields to come up with a plan to pay a "significant portion" of the building excise tax to help with funding of the new school, the proposed agreement states.

The county and Board of Education would be required to complete construction of the school and have it ready to open by September 2008, well before the estimated completion of the development, according to the proposed agreement.

If the commissioners approve the agreement, Westfields will seek to dismiss the suit against the county.

"For and in consideration of Westfields LLC's agreement to dismiss its claims in said action, the County shall deal fairly and in good faith with Westfields LLC in its efforts to complete the Development and shall ensure that its agencies, departments, divisions and agents complete their respective duties and process applications and submissions by Westfields LLC in a timely and reasonable manner," the proposed agreement states.

The agreement allows Westfields to build 41 homes this year, none in 2007, 100 each in 2008 and 2009, and 60 homes each year from 2010 through 2016. When completed, the development would consist of 663 single-family homes and 110 semi-detached units, the agreement states. The county previously approved 112 lots.

Westfields sued the county in October for $7.5 million and other damages, saying the county has acted in an "arbitrary, capricious, unjustified and discriminatory" manner by delaying the project.

In addition to $7.5 million in damages, Westfields is seeking damages of $4,600 for each day issues go unresolved.




If you go



What: The Washington County Commissioners discuss and possibly vote on a proposed agreement with developer Westfields LLC

When: Tuesday, 1:15 p.m.

Where: County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St., Hagerstown

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