Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2021

Summary judgments filed in Belward Farm case

By RACHEL WITKIN | September 27, 2012

Both sides in the Belward Farm land case filed motions for summary judgment this past week, asking the court to rule in their favor without holding a trial.

As a part of the trial process, both parties were required to file motions.

The case was originally filed in November by family members of Elizabeth Banks, who sold 108 acres of Belward Farm near Gaithersburg, Md. to Hopkins in 1989 for $5 million.

Hopkins had agreed to use the land for academic purposes, and the original plan was for them to build on 1.4 million-square-feet of the land.

They currently plan on building a 4.7 million-square-foot commercial science park on the land.

The Newell family filed the case to stop Hopkins from building the park, which they say goes against their original agreement.

Hopkins filed for summary judgment on Monday, stating that the case did not need to go to trial because Hopkins had not violated its contract.

A statement from the Office of Communications stated that the original contract did not confine the park to a certain amount of square feet, and that there is sufficient evidence stating that Banks knew that the farm was going to be a research center.

“We believe that the evidence that emerged during discovery makes the correct outcome of this case absolutely clear. A trial is not necessary,” the statement said.

The Newell family filed their motion on Tuesday. They also feel that they have a strong case and that a decision can be made without a trial.

According to Tim Newell, the lead plaintiff and spokesperson for the donor family, the facts are on their side, especially because they have an expert witness who was on the planning board in 1989.

“All we’re trying to look for is for the court to enforce Hopkins to live up to the original agreement. And that is to build a Johns Hopkins research campus on the Belward property but in a scale and density that was appropriate at the time of the signing of the contract,” Newell said.

“The purpose of donating the property to Johns Hopkins was to leave it an open campus park-like setting. And what they’re proposing now is what they call a science city, which is not at all what the donors had intended.”

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