Builders Advance Lawsuit Blaming County for Losses in Stymied Clarksburg Project
Companies appeal judge's ruling dismissing suit seeking millions from county officials
Ten Mile Creek area in Clarksburg
MONTGOMERY COUNTY PLANNING DEPARTMENT
Developers have appealed a judge’s ruling to dismiss an $86 million lawsuit against the county over a stalled 1,000-home project in Clarksburg.
A federal judge in August ruled against Pulte Home Corp. and Shiloh Farm Investments in their legal complaint seeking compensation from county officials. The lawsuit claimed that county leaders unfairly stripped growth potential from 541 acres near Ten Mile Creek after the development companies had invested millions in the site.
However, U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel found that the county was within its right to pass the land-use changes.
Late last month, the developers filed a notice that they were taking the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Pulte Home and Shiloh Farm asserted that they’d spent nearly $50 million on the vacant land west of Interstate 270 and another $12 million adding growth potential to it by buying development rights from county farmers.
The companies’ plans were derailed when the county placed new restrictions on paving during development projects, increased open space requirements and changed the property zoning from residential to agricultural classifications, the suit alleged. The developers also claimed they could not gain water and sewer access for their project.
The changes the county made in 2014 in the Ten Mile Creek Area Limited Amendment left the developers able to build on just 17 percent of the property, according to the complaint.
However, Hazel wrote in an opinion that risk is an inherent part of the development business. He found that the county enacted reasonable land-use regulations aimed at conserving natural resources.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.