Clearview to remain golf course for now

Clearview at Horn's PointClearview at Horn’s Point, the Eastern Shore golf course with a recent legal history, was sold at auction Friday for just under $1.5 million.

Bill Hudson, vice president and general manager of Atlantic Auctions in Bel Air, said Monday the new owner is local but declined to provide any more details until the settlement is finalized. Since it was a foreclosure auction, that will happen 10 days after a Dorchester County Circuit Court judge gives final ratification to the sale, according to Hudson.

But Hudson said the new owner wants to keep the 130-acres a golf course “in the short term.”

The auction of the former Cambridge Country Club drew six bidders and more than 30 spectators, Hudson added.


From storefront to restaurant

Monday’s Maryland Lawyer cover story is about a controversy surrounding the paved parking lot of The Oregon Grille. One thing I could not fit into the story is a bit of the history and significance of the restaurant’s building, which adds some context to the legal dispute.

The Oregon Grille occupies the last company store in use in Baltimore County, according to Ruth Mascari, who sits on the board of directors for the Baltimore County Historical Trust. The store dates back to at least 1846, when county records note storekeeper C.J. Rosan had an inventory worth $1,200, according to the Baltimore County Public Library’s archives.

The nearby Oregon Furnace started up three years later. It was destroyed by fire in 1853, but ore mining continued at the site for another 30 years, according to John McGrain, a former county planner and historian who has written about the county’s manufacturing villages.

Thomas Kurtz, Oregon’s last foreman, then bought the entire 457-acre tract and continued operating the general store, according to McGrain.

The property remained in the Kurtz family until the county purchased it in 1969 and created Oregon Ridge Park.

Creamery stalled by second lawsuit

The last time I wrote about the Prigel Family Creamery was in July, when Bobby Prigel and his Bellevale Farm Inc. received a $250,000 loan from the county for their proposed creamery and store.

It turns out that shortly after the loan was announced, opponents of the Glen Arm business filed a second lawsuit against the creamery seeking to halt its opening. (The first lawsuit, arguing the creamery is prohibited under a state easement regulation, is on appeal.)

The second lawsuit, which also names the the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, alleges Prigel did not submit all “plans, specifications and other information” as required by DHMH, and that DHMH is awaiting final plans even after the building’s shell has been completed. The lawsuit is specifically concerned about a “lack of a plan for wastewater treatment,” which could harm the groundwater used by the Prigels’ neighbors.

Lawyers for Prigel, in seeking to dismiss the complaint, point out the creamery has not applied for nor been issued a milk processing permit and that the building itself remains unused and vacant. A lawyer for DHMH, in a similar motion, called the complaint “premature” and said the public would be better served by the lawsuit’s dismissal.

“DHMH’s willingness and availability to work with permittees prior to the submission of an application is exactly the kind of service the citizens and State desire and deserve,” the motion states.

Judge H. Patrick Stringer denied a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit during a hearing last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court on grounds that the defense did not directly address the plaintiffs’ claims in its motion to dismiss. Stringer denied the motion without prejudice, however, meaning Prigel could file another motion to dismiss in the future.

Following the hearing, Prigel’s lawyers indicated they were gathering evidence from DHMH to show compliance with state building regulations.

UB law debuts new building

Say hello to the new $107 million John and Frances Angelos Law Center (left), scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2012 and hold its first classes in the spring semester of 2013. The image is looking north from the intersection of Charles Street and Mt. Royal Avenue.

The rendering, plus floor plans and a 3-D model, were displayed three times Thursday – first receiving rave reviews from the state’s Architectural Review Board and Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel and finally during a community briefing Thursday night at UB’s student center (where I saw it).

Stefan Behnisch, whose German architecture firm is teaming with Baltimore’s Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc. on the project, took community members through the 12-story glass building. The law school will hold 1,100 students and will feature lots of open and public space to promote interaction, as well as an atrium the full height of the building. It will also be LEED certified, although the exact level of environmental friendliness has yet to be determined.

The glass facade will control the amount of sunlight entering the building and will make the building look different to passersby depending on the time of day, Behnisch said.

The building will become the first landmark visible to people leaving Penn Station, Behnisch said, so the goal was to make it both blend in and stand out in the neighborhood.

“I think it defines…the urban fabric,” he said.

Steve Cassard, UB’s vice president for facilities and capital planning, said the project remains on schedule and within the budget.

Corruption co-counsel

A pending motion to unseal more of the corruption case against former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr. and his wife, Mary Pat, comes at a curious time (even aside from how it fits in with the movant-intervenor William C. Bond’s pro se litigation schedule).

As Bond seeks to know why Gerard P. Martin and Joshua R. Treem switched clients in the Bromwell case and why the presiding judge disqualified them on the eve of trial, those same two lawyers are in the thick of defending the latest high-profile political corruption case: the state prosecutor’s investigation of a prominent Baltimore developer’s influence at City Hall.

Treem represents Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton, who has been indicted for allegedly taking a bribe, in the form of a political poll, from developer Ronald H. Lipscomb. Lipscomb, who also faces a bribery count, is represented by Martin. Lipscomb’s trial is scheduled for June; Holton’s is slated for October. (Mayor Sheila A. Dixon has also been indicted and is supposed to stand trial after Labor Day.)

Now, there’s no reason to believe history will repeat itself here. The Bromwell episode is but one in Martin’s and Treem’s long careers defending big cases, and the Bromwells’ status as husband-and-wife co-defendants is quite different from Holton’s and Lipcomb’s relationship as alleged partners in a bribe.

It just provides some curious context for the April 23 motions hearing (to dismiss the indictments) in the case and the trials later this year.

Creamery supporters to rally for the cause

Eric Daxon stood outside the Old Courthouse in Towson on Monday night handing out tangerine-colored fliers. He offered them to many citizens heading inside for the County Council’s public hearing on a proposed zoning change that would allow Glen Arm dairy farmer Bobby Prigel to operate a creamery on his property.

The fliers advertised “Prigel Farm Fest 2009,” a legal defense fundraiser to be held Memorial Day weekend on the Prigel farm. A Facebook group for the event currently has 162 members. Daxon, in an interview Wednesday, said his goal is to raise $50,000, or half of Prigel’s legal expenses. (Creamery opponents filed a lawsuit in Baltimore County Circuit Court that was dismissed last month but might still be appealed, and an appeal of county zoning officials’ decision to allow the creamery has been postponed pending the County Council’s decision.) Three people have called Daxon since Monday night about making donations, he said.

Daxon said he spoke to Prigel about holding the fundraiser, which includes a pig roast and live music, and Prigel welcomed the idea. Daxon organized the event because he lives in nearby Sparks and runs his own business like Prigel, in Daxon’s case home theater installation and computer repair.

“He did everything right,” Daxon said of Prigel. “I don’t understand how you can get all the permits and all of the approvals [needed] and not open the creamery.”

Will the real Goliath please stand up?

Before the pretrial motions hearing began Thursday in the City Hall corruption probe cases, State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh joked with the assembled press corps about the defendants’ horde of attorneys and his office’s meager resources.

“Look at how many lawyers they have,” he said. “This is our entire office.” (The entire legal staff anyway; the office’s investigators were not present.)

Dixon’s defense lawyer, Arnold M. Weiner, saw the situation differently.

“It’s hard to feel sympathy for a prosecutor who conducts a multi-year investigation with a full staff of investigators and assistants and who comes into court with four of them and then complains he doesn’t have the resources to do the case that he’s brought,” Weiner said.

So, where do your sympathies lie?