MoCo land fight: Lawsuit filed against county, school board
The fight over a 20-acre piece of land in Potomac is a personal one for Ted Duncan.
Duncan is living in the same Potomac home where he grew up.
He worries over the fate of the land because he wants his 7-year old daughter Sophie to enjoy it, but he fears if Montgomery County ends up building soccer fields, access may be limited.
“This is public land that is being basically traded over to a private entity by the county,” Duncan said, referring to Montgomery Soccer, Inc, a non-profit which would operate the fields.
He argues the fields are not in the public interests because even though they would be run by a non-profit, the public would be charged to use them.
Duncan is one of the plaintiffs of a new lawsuit that among other things claims Montgomery County did not follow the law when it comes to leasing the land from the Montgomery County Board of Education.
"This whole thing has been run through without any public input,” Duncan said.
The fight over the land started after a farmer, who is currently leasing the land, was told his lease would not be renewed.
"If they are allowed to proceed with this soccer plex…on this public land, that means all public land can be used for anything anywhere in this county,” said Curt Uhre, a member of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association -- a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which also says the decision to build the soccer field violates the county’s master plan and zoning regulations.
Patrick Lacefield, spokesman for County Executive Ike Leggett, told ABC 7 the issue is not about the process.
“They’d be opposed to Mother Theresa using the land,” he said over the phone.
Lacefield added the county’s position hasn’t changed and it will move forward with the project because it fits with the Potomac Master Plane that public land be used for public purpose.
Late Tuesday, Montgomery County Board of Education spokesman Dana Tofig, released the following statement:
“The Board of Education has not yet been served with the latest legal action from the Brickyard Coalition and is, in fact, awaiting a ruling on other pending litigation from this group. While the Board has not had the opportunity to review the complaint, the Board stands behind its actions, and regrets that it must expend additional resources to defend its legitimate authority with respect to its property. As with other legal actions regarding the Brickyard site, we will respond at the appropriate time and will continue to affirm the right of the Board to determine the use of the land it owns.”
"The government is supposed to work for the residents,” Duncan said. “Every time we've tried to open up and talk to them about it…they've just said no, we're pushing it through."
At the same time, the community is also waiting for a judge’s decision in early February that will decide the future of Nick’s Farm.