Town of Chevy Chase Will Not Appeal Order to Pay Purple Line Advocates’ Attorneys’ Fees

Town of Chevy Chase Will Not Appeal Order to Pay Purple Line Advocates’ Attorneys’ Fees

A judge ordered the town to pay $92,000 in public records case

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A Town of Chevy Chase sign

Bethesda Beat file photo - Aaron Kraut

The Town of Chevy Chase will not appeal a judge’s order to pay $92,000 to the Action Committee for Transit (ACT) and member Ben Ross for the cost of their attorneys’ fees in a public information case.

Mayor Mary Flynn said Tuesday the town will pay the fees rather than appeal the order. The Town Council plans to approve a supplemental appropriation in October to do so.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl McCally ordered the town to pay the fees. Her order came after the state’s Court of Special Appeals found that the town should have not attempted to charge ACT and Ross hundreds of dollars for town records in 2015 that were related to the town’s former opposition to the Purple Line.

The Action Committee for Transit has long been a proponent of the Purple Line light-rail project, which began construction last month.

The appeals court found that the town should have waived the fees because Ross, a blogger and author, should have been considered a member of the media and was seeking documents in the public interest under the Maryland Public Information Act.

Chevy Chase Town Manager Todd Hoffman said Thursday the money would come from the town’s general reserve fund. He estimated the fund has a balance of about $7.5 million.

“It’s not going to impact the town’s operations,” Hoffman said.

The town has about 2,800 residents. The town’s current five-member council is now completely different from its makeup in 2015.

When Flynn was asked whether the town has changed its process for handling public information requests, she said she wasn’t on the council at the time the issue arose and hasn’t had to deal with the process yet.

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