Couple can sue over school sewage plant, judge rules


A Circuit Court judge declined to dismiss a lawsuit asking the state to penalize the Carroll Board of Education for building a sewage treatment plant at Francis Scott Key High School without proper permits.

The Maryland Department of the Environment argued that decisions on penalties should be left to the agency and that the plaintiffs, John and Virginia Lovell of Union Bridge, had no standing to sue.

Judge Daniel W. Moylan denied the state's claims, saying the Lovells "clearly have standing to sue."

The Lovells, whose property is next to the school, have asked the court to force MDE to impose fines or penalties on the Carroll school system and dismantle the $800,000 plant near Union Bridge.

MDE officials did not comment on the decision. However, spokesman John Verrico said MDE may penalize the school system. He said it was unlikely the school system would be forced to dismantle the plant.

Attorney Timothy R. Henderson, who represents the Lovells, said the motion to dismiss had been holding up the lawsuit.

"I'm glad this has been resolved so we can get to the heart of the case," he said.

The Board of Education did not file for dismissal and remains a defendant in the case.

The sewage plant, completed in July 1998, was part of a $16.3 million renovation at the high school. County officials are trying to rescue the project, applying for new permits and studying alternative ways to remove waste from the school.

Meanwhile, 7,000 gallons of raw sewage is being trucked each day to Westminster's treatment plant.

The school system faces another lawsuit over construction at the school. Another family has sued for $1 million after school officials destroyed their driveway when they built a bus turnaround.

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