In 1989 the Newell family sold their 138-acre farm to Johns Hopkins University in the bargain price of $5 million. The sale was contingent upon the university using the vast majority of the property, called the Belward Farm, for educational and research purposes, writes Jonathan O\’Connell at the Washington Post.
However, last week the University found itself being sued through the Newell family at Montgomery County Circuit Court for which the Newell\’s call \”gross violations of those contingencies.\”
The university has allegedly morphed from acting as an academic institution to a commercial real estate developer intent mainly on making money, something which the family desired to prevent from happening when they offered the farm as a present.
\”The donor intent was extremely clear, and if they had wanted it developed at the time, they wouldn\’t have put any restrictions onto it,\” Tim Newell said.
In 1997 the university and also the Newell\’s had decided on a plan to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot satellite campus around the farm, but now, after seeking approval by the country planning board, the program is for 4.7 million sq ft, which county officials envision because the anchor to a \”Science City.\”
Steve Silverman, director from the Montgomery County Department of monetary Development, said he does not expect the lawsuit to thwart those plans.
\”We\’re expecting that after the day Hopkins will be able to help us achieve our life sciences goals,\” he explained.
Tim Newell now resides in New Jersey and it has said that any hope of negotiating directly using the university has long passed and he and his family have taken their case to the county council multiple times, but with no success:
\”I don\’t know the way we could have prevented this. It\’s just sad that somebody has good intentions and another person takes advantage of it in the future,\” he explained.
A Johns Hopkins spokeswoman declined to comment.