A Frederick County judge made clear Thursday that it is for a jury to decide whether the sale of the former Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living facilities violates a 186-year-old restrictive covenant.

In March, Judge Theresa M. Adams filed an opinion concluding that the 1828 deed, crafted when Elias Brunner sold 88 acres to Frederick County, created a restrictive covenant by including language that the land be used “for the Benefit of the Poor of said County, and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever.”

However, she did not conclude whether a sale of the land to a for-profit company would violate that covenant.

That is a substantive dispute of fact that a jury should decide, Adams said Thursday.

The lawsuit, and others, were filed by a group of individuals against the Board of County Commissioners in August.

Marta Harting, an attorney representing the county Thursday, asked Adams to certify her opinion so the county can file an appeal before the rest of the case moves forward.

Harting argued that Adams’ decision about the restrictive covenant might also forbid many of the property’s other current uses. The property, near Montevue Lane and Rosemont Avenue, is the site of buildings for county animal control, transit, emergency services, and fleet and highway operations. A warehouse, the University of Maryland extension service building and the Scott Key Center are also on the land.

She said the county faces uncertainty and insecurity, along with economic loss associated with the sale of the facilities, without immediate appellate review.

Leslie Powell, an attorney representing the group opposed to the sale, said the entire case should be considered together for judicial efficiency.

Adams said she could consider only the issues before her, which don’t concern the other uses on the land.

Powell said the county’s claims of economic hardship without the ability to immediately appeal were unfounded.

The county “is not, assuming it ever was, hemorrhaging 4 to 5 million dollars a year” in connection to the facilities, Powell said.

In denying the county’s request for the immediate appeal, Adams said the current situation doesn’t meet the threshold required by Maryland’s appellate courts when it comes to reviewing part of a case on appeal before a trial court decision on the full case.

Adams also found in favor of the plaintiffs on a related matter Thursday.

Harting also asked Adams to dismiss a new claim filed by the group seeking to block an asset purchase agreement the county reached with Millersville-based Aurora Health Management on May 1.

Powell said the final claim should be allowed to move forward because it is based on new conduct by the county and relates to the same legal issues in the rest of the lawsuit.

The county handed ownership of center operations to Aurora on May 1. The company now controls the finances and employs the staff, but the building and the land still belong to the county. Officials plan to sell the buildings and property to Aurora at a later date.

Harting argued that the claim should be stricken because the same argument could be made in a separate legal case.

Adams said it would be prejudicial to require the plaintiffs to file another lawsuit when there’s a trial scheduled in just over six months. She denied the county’s request.

Also on Thursday, Adams heard from attorneys representing the city, county and the citizens group about a separate administrative agency appeal.

In that matter, the county challenged a decision by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to stop the subdivision of the county’s land. The land must be subdivided for the sale to go forward.

The city’s Planning Commission has since reapproved the subdivision.

Adams said she will file a written opinion in that case.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(15) comments

quemzeee2

Shame on you Jill. You knew you were not being honest, and this is about people not able to live up to Minimum standards in the United States.
I know she did not see it this way, but so many of these comentators portray Anti American ideals.
They espouse verbage and letters that literaly mean life and death to the needy.
Shame on you. You should be ashemed.

memorymaker

Jill can not possibly know that because of HIPPA. Unless she has illegal access to admissions records which would be quite illegal. Hmmmmm.....

backroomfrederick

I know the market took a hit but will someone sell me their house at a huge discount because, hey, it won't be worth anything down the road. See, I have this crystal ball and needy pockets.

jessienjim

And while we`re at it, lets have a jury trial for the land Moe Young`s daddy took from the Loats bequeathment, that was intended to be used for orphaned girls. Handing a cash cow to out of town baseball profiteers.
It`s long past the time when this family of hands in developers pockets, career politicians were kicked to the curb and out of elected office.

MCEDDE21

Jill King: You say that a "majority" of the residents at Montevue and Citizens "never lived in this County." What is the source of your information?

quemzeee2

The majority residing there? I worked there for 15 years and never saw even close to any times persons from out of area there of any notable numbers. And if they were, they were required to have family here to pay for it.
? not sure where that nonsense comes from.

jill king

Yes, now the County residents are going to be paying more taxes while this is waiting for trial.

There is no win in this, it is just delaying the inevitable. The County does not have to run a nursing home on the backs of Frederick County citizen taxes, for elderly who for the majority never lived in this County.

quemzeee2

The fact is, Citizens kept alot of the other places in check. The standards were excellent. The care was excellent.
If you think a "private for profit" group is the way to go. I dare you to check into one and then let us know what you think
$3200.00 per month doesnt mean anything in that buissness. So in repsonse to your comments, yes middle class does not have bottomless pits of money. So good luck on finding a place to live


It is folish to dump these places in leiu of the up comming demands. Simply foolish.

Sourdoh1

The citizens of Frederick should be asked via ballot if we want to be in the senior care business. In my mind, there is absolutely no way that government can ever be efficient in provided services to anybody. So, why should the average middle class taxpayer be expected to take on a money losing proposition? After all, we the middle class do not have bottomless pockets!

japorciento

The only "efficiency" in privatized health care or senior care, is the means by which the patients and staff are stripped of their care (in the first place) and their income (in the second). For-profit health care will always result in higher costs and limited results, because of the profit motive. Executives, owners, and bean counters rule, putting their interests above all.

With privatization, there is no accountability and lower pay for those who actually provide care. With government, the profits are not siphoned off by profiteers. The government, therefore, can pay higher salaries to obtain the best doctors, nurses and other necessary staff, all the while ensuring that they will remain on the job.

nbouqu1

so, what's the color of the sky in your mind?

The fact is Government is in a lot of areas more efficient than the private sector. Medicare being the best example. Pre-ACA private insurance companies ran with a 15% or more Admin costs. Medicare, a mere 2%. It does not get more efficient than that.

BlueDawn666

Nice to know there are some people that Blaine can't buy-off. HAHAHAHA..Blaine Young..and yes thank you Teresa Adams.

kjswartz

Thank you, Judge Theresa M. Adams,
for letting Frederick County citizens decide this matter. That is the most excellent decision to make.

It allows Montevue and Citizens to be reviewed by the next boards of public officials.

It allows Montevue and Citizens to be one of the deciding factors for county citizens.

Finally, it places the final judgement of the land's uses on our peers, and not by a single political neophyte.

Newthinking7

So, If this gets thru and the implied language of the deed is deemed NOT to convey soley for indigent use.
Then they can toss out the United States Constitution for the very same reason.
And then we can chuck the Bible out, which will halt our Judical system since we still use it in court.
This is so so stupid. Only yahoos from this county could vilify a deed intended soley for health and welfare.

Then the truck maintenence and animal rescue should be shut down also. AND the state run animal exam building.

Frederick county stole this property, clear and simple.

kjswartz

Any building on the property should pay a land usage fee, retroactive, to Citizens.
There's no harm to Citizens - if the fee is paid in full.

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