It's another victory for opponents of the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living Centers. On Thursday, Frederick County Circuit Court Judge Theresa Adams rejected the county's request to separate one of the four issues of the lawsuit, Trunk vs. Bocc, which challenges the sale. That one was the deeding of the Citizens and Montevue property to the county in 1828 "for the benefit of the poor."
"Judge Adams decided that there was no reason to proceed with a hearing on the deed, the question of the deed," says Steve Bruns with Stop the Sale of Montevue and Citizens.
He says that means the trial connected with the lawsuit will continue. It's expected to take place in January, 2015. "They're going to proceed to trial on all four issues," he says. "She said to have a separate trial on the deed alone would be prejudicial to the plaintiff's case." Besides, Bruns says, the judge told the defendants it would be difficult to find three days for a trial on just one issue, and that could drag the lawsuit into 2016.
In June, 2013, the County Commissioners agreed to sell the facilities to Aurora Health Care for $30-million. The decision followed a lengthy public hearing where a majority of those who testified were against. A lawsuit was filed in August, 2013, to stop the sale.
Aurora is operating the two facilities, but the county still owns the property.
Bruns says the judge also considered a request from the county to overturn a decision by the city's Board of Zoning Appeals. The panel in November, 2013, reversed a previous vote by the Planning Commission which allowed the county to subdivide the property. The case was sent back to the Planning Commission. "Regarding the administrative appeal through the city, she didn't understand why the county attorney brought this case to court because you got what you wanted. You got a doever. It's going back to the Planning Commission," says Bruns. He said Judge Adams made no ruling on that request, allowing the administrative process to run its course.
That case is Bocc vs. City of Frederick.
"The county is basically trying to bully, to wreck our court case by sheer bullying," Bruns says.