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Owner wants bypass to skip land


A Westminster man wants the Carroll County Circuit Court to prevent the commissioners from tying up his 100-acre property again with renewed talk of a Westminster bypass, a battle he won less than four years ago.

James Edward Harris Sr. of the 1100 block of Brehm Road filed suit against the three commissioners after a recommendation last week by a blue-ribbon panel that the bypass be revived.

Citing increasing traffic, the panel asked county officials to push the state again for an 8-mile bypass north of Route 140, recommending essentially the same route as one planned about 15 years ago.

In the lawsuit filed this week by JFJME Family LLC, Harris, as its managing member, said he plans to develop some of the property, where he has a landscape contracting business. He is asking that a Carroll County Circuit Court judge issue an injunction forbidding the three commissioners from designating a road over his property - unless they condemn it and pay him for the land.

In response to a similar lawsuit by Harris, the previous board of commissioners agreed in November 2001 to remove from the master plan the portion of the bypass that would have run through his property.

Harris said yesterday that he has an offer of more than $7 million for the property and might think about selling the land, which could support 60 to 70 new houses.

County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender said the county is aware of Harris' suit and will review it when they receive it.

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