A Maryland court has ruled the Montgomery County school board cannot move forward with a plan to lease out a Potomac farm to a soccer group until the Montgomery County Circuit Court settles a pending lawsuit from residents against the board.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals denied the county's motion to overturn the stay issued by Circuit Judge Robert Greenberg.
The property off Brickyard Road is owned by the school board and is the proposed site for soccer fields for the nonprofit Montgomery Soccer Inc. Currently, Nick's Organic Farm operates on the property.
The Brickyard Coalition community group filed the lawsuit, claiming the county is violating a law by using land that was part of a school district for other purposes.
Last month, the coalition filed an additional suit against County Executive Ike Leggett, the county, the board and MSI. The group says the county violated the public trust by allowing the transfer of the land to MSI and accuses Leggett of unlawfully conspiring with the school board to deliver the land.
So far, the school has spent at least $200,000 in litigation against the group. In October, the coalition offered to drop the suit if the county would give back the land to the board at no cost, and if it agreed that future use of the site would be determined by an "open process with citizen comment."
"Perhaps now the county executive and the Board of Education will be more open to reconsidering a settlement of this contentious matter," the coalition said.
In a letter from Leggett to residents concerned about the Brickyard issue, Leggett maintains there was no special deal for MSI, and the use of the land as a soccer field would not damage the community.
"If you follow this general approach -- the Not-In-My-Backyard -- then all manner of county projects designed to advance the public interest would not have been built or would not be built," he wrote.
The school board is scheduled to appear for a hearing at the Montgomery County Circuit Court on Feb. 8.