News from Montgomery College

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For Immediate Release (02-23)
Date: May 9, 2002 
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Steve Simon, 240-567-7952 

  Montgomery College Seeks to Clarify Campus Expansion Legal Status
                    Circuit Court Action Asks For Declaratory Judgement

             Montgomery College has initiated a court action that seeks to resolve legal issues surrounding the expansion of its Takoma Park campus.

            The action involves the College’s plans for development of a new cultural arts center, a portion of which would sit at the edge of Jesup Blair Park in South Silver Spring, and a pedestrian bridge to provide access to the park from the existing Montgomery College campus.  It asks Montgomery County Circuit Court to declare that the placement of the two facilities conforms to state law with respect to historic preservation and is consistent with the will of the late Violet Blair Janin, who gave the state of Maryland 14.7 acres of land which the park now occupies.

            Concerning the action, a Request for Declaratory Judgement, Montgomery College General Counsel Clyde H. Sorrell said, “We want to make sure all parties are heard, fully involved, and fully informed.  This action asks the Court to declare the rights of the respective parties.”

            In addition to seeking a Declaratory Judgement supporting the two facilities, the College’s legal action requests a permanent injunction to carry out the declarations of the court.

            The request follows a lawsuit filed by two preservationist groups and 10 Montgomery County citizens, including attorney Robin A. Ficker of Boyds.  That action seeks to block the cultural arts building and the footbridge, which have been approved by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery County Executive and Council, and the State of Maryland.  Court approval of the College’s action would allow the campus expansion to proceed as scheduled.

               Another aspect of the College’s Request for Declaratory Judgement is that it names Montgomery County, the County Council sitting as District Council, the state of Maryland, the Park and Planning Commission and the Maryland Historic Trust. 

            These parties are not adverse to the College, but state law requires that they be named in the suit because they have an interest in the declarations of the Court sought by the College.  In fact, those declarations are consistent with a recent opinion of the State Attorney General.   

            The College recently launched the first phase of its planned Takoma Park campus expansion, beginning demolition work required to clear the way for construction of the first building, a health sciences center.  Construction of the cultural arts center, the third phase of the expansion project, isn’t scheduled to start until 2005.

            Sorrell pointed out that the College’s court action doesn’t ask for damages of any kind.  “There is no personal liability to any person or organization involved in this action,” he said.  

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