Hopkins University files motion for summary judgment in land dispute

Attorneys for the Johns Hopkins University on Monday filed a motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit claiming the university is violating a land-use agreement it signed with a Montgomery County family more than 20 years ago.

Elizabeth Beall Banks and her siblings sold 108 acres of their family's Belward Farm to the university in 1989 under specific stipulations, including that the property be used for research or education purposes. The suit, led by Banks' nephew John Timothy Newell, claims Hopkins' plans to construct high-rise buildings on the land violate the agreement and are out of line with what Banks and her siblings were told would be a low-rise campus.

Hopkins bought the property for $5 million. The family's lawsuit says the property was valued at $54 million.

The lawsuit was filed in November. A motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Hopkins was denied in March.

In its motion Monday, the university claimed the contract it signed to purchase the farm near Gaithersburg makes clear the limitations agreed to — that the land be used for "agricultural, academic, research and development, delivery of health and medical care and services, or related purposes only" — but that those limitations do not speak to density of development or building heights.

Further evidence introduced in discovery shows Banks supported university plans to build research and development facilities on the land, the university said.

Combined, the contract and the discovery evidence should prove a trial is unwarranted, the university said.

The university wants to move forward with its plans to build a 4.7 million-square-foot research and development campus on the property.



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