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Judge dismisses Security's lawsuit over development


A Circuit Court judge has dismissed a multimillion-dollar damage suit brought against Baltimore County by the developers of Colvista, a proposed 3,000-unit development adjacent to the Loch Raven Reservoir.

Security Management Corp., the developer, claimed its constitutional rights were violated in 1992 when the County Council turned down its request to change the zoning on 215 acres west of York Road during the comprehensive rezoning process done every four years. The council rejected Security's request because it wanted to limit large, high-density residential development to its two established growth centers, Owings Mills and White Marsh.

In its eight-count lawsuit, which sought $10 million on each count, Security argued that the council's decision violated its constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. Security said the decision amounted to taking land it owned without just compensation and deprived it of any economic benefit from its ownership.

County attorneys countered that Security had not exhausted its administrative remedies.

Harford County Circuit Judge Maurice W. Baldwin Jr. agreed with the county in an opinion released Thursday. He was assigned the case when he was filling in on the Baltimore County circuit.

Specifically, Judge Baldwin said Security didn't meet its burden of proof when it argued that a section of the 1983 Civil Rights Act allows parties to bypass the administrative process and seek relief in court.

Since he ruled only on Security's standing to sue in Circuit Court, the judge did not address the constitutional issues raised by the developer.

Thomas C. Beach III, an attorney representing Security Management, said, "We obviously don't agree with the decision." In addition to the lawsuit, Security has filed a rezoning request with the county Board of Appeals.

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