Developer sues Manchester for $30 million in damages; Man says town's actions forced him out of business


Henry L. Blevins, a Westminster developer who operated as Manchester Land Development Inc. in 1994, is suing the town of Manchester, charging that officials cost him millions of dollars by blocking his development of three subdivisions.

The lawsuit filed this month in Carroll County Circuit Court by James A. Mogey, an Annapolis attorney representing Blevins, seeks $30 million in damages.

In his suit, Blevins said the town blocked the development of 164 lots by "changing rules and specifications without notice" and by requiring him to perform work and procure materials that were not called for in the original public works agreement. In addition, Blevins alleged he was forced to sell land, equipment and water rights to a competitor under threat of sanctions by the town. As a result, the suit says, he could not complete the subdivision near Routes 30 and 27, and other developers completed Crossroads Overlook.

Blevins also said the town refused to grant him bond reductions and tied the issuance of building permits to his paying a private contractor for inspections. Other developers were not required to pay for their inspections, according to the suit.

The result of such requirements forced Manchester Land Development Inc. out of business, Blevins said. Blevins' complaint focuses on three counts -- the violation of his rights, negligence and interference -- and has asked for $10 million in compensatory damages on each count.

Phillip Arbaugh, Manchester's town manager, said he had not seen the lawsuit.

"I was not here then and don't know Mr. Blevins," said Arbaugh. "I'm sure the town's attorney will tell me not to comment on this [pending litigation]."

Michelle Ostrander, a Westminster attorney who serves as the town's legal counsel, said the town has been aware of Blevins' intention to sue but has not yet been served. She said a copy of the suit would be forwarded to the town's insurance carrier and most likely would be defended by lawyers for the insurance company.

Mogey was not available to comment yesterday.

Pub Date: 9/22/99

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