The case of the Brickyard property in Potomac was back in court Friday, this time with both sides in the fight over the 20-acre parcel debating the legality of the property’s lease.
Nick Maravell has operated Nick’s Organic Farm on the land owned by the school board for the last 30 years. Recently the county leased the land from Montgomery County Public Schools and subleased it to Montgomery Soccer Inc., a private soccer organization to use for soccer fields.
That exchange has been the subject of a firestorm of debate as residents near the property fight to keep soccer fields off the land.
In the hearing before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg, lawyers representing Maravell said the lease to MSI was illegal and the only way to correct the situation was to redo the process of deciding what would be done with the land.
“The process is illegal, so the county has no lease,” said Maravell’s attorney Jim Parsons. “The bottom line here is the board met on two separate occasions, deliberately ... without any legal authority to do so.” He told Judge Greenberg the lease should be voided.
Parsons claimed the lease to MSI does not allow public access to the land. Rather, he said, it is “private fee-paying club members who are getting to use these fields.”
Attorneys representing the school board and the county dismissed those arguments.
Patrick Clancy, speaking for the school board, told Judge Greenberg the school board could build a school on the land within two years, which would be open seven days a week and create traffic and congestion for neighbors.
The congestion the fields could cause has been an issue critical to the complaints of opponents of the proposed fields.
Clifford Royalty, a county attorney, told the judge the farm is more of a private use of county land than the lease to the soccer organization.
Voiding the lease would be “draconian,” and would cause collateral damage, Royalty said.
Judge Greenberg said that he would be issuing an opinion in the coming weeks.