Hopkins Plans for Historic Farm Leads to Lawsuit

Belward Farm development fight

Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012  |  Updated 10:46 PM EDT
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Hopkins Plans for Historic Farm Leads to Lawsuit

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A historic farm in Montgomery County, Md., is at the center of a fight with a prestigious Maryland university. 

The Belward Farm on the edge of Gaitherburg is 138 acres of undeveloped land. It was established in 1873.

In 1989, owner Elizabeth Beall Banks gifted the farm to Johns Hopkins University, selling it for $5 million even though it was valued at $54 million, according to a lawsuit.

Banks was an anti-development advocate, and her family said she sold the farm to Hopkins to be developed as a satellite campus.

Original plans called for a 1.4 milion-square-foot campus.

Recently, Hopkins announced plans to develop 4.7 million-square-feet, with a core portion intergrated into Montgomery County's "Science City."

Banks's family is now suing, saying Hopkins' plans violate Banks wishes. She died in 2005.

Hopkins is trying to get the lawsuit dismissed. They said the agreement with Banks doesn't contain any restrictions on Hopkins right to develop the land.

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge heard the motion to dismiss on Wednesday. A ruling could be made in the coming weeks.

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