Annapolis Roads Residents File Lawsuit in Golf Course Purchase
A group of residents is seeking a ruling from county court to determine what is acceptable use of the Annapolis Golf Club and to stop the Key School from doing anything that would violate community covenants.
A group of Annapolis Roads residents filed a lawsuit against The Key School Wednesday, asking the court to step into what is brewing to be a drawn-out dispute over the school buying the Annapolis Golf Club.
Residents Pam and Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III and Trish and Greg Strott issued a press release saying they were acting on behalf of the group Preserve Annapolis Roads.
Officially, the filing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court is seeking a “declaratory judgment” and “injunctive relief.” The residents want the court to say exactly what uses would be allowed on the golf course property and then for the court to prohibit any uses it says aren’t allowed.
“Permitted uses on the property are limited by restrictive covenants since it is part of the original plan of development, and is located in the center of the Annapolis Roads community,” residents said in a release.
The lawsuit names as defendants The Key School, Ribera Development, and golf course owners George and Linda Graefe. None of the defendants were immediately available for comment Wednesday evening.
Earlier this month the school announced it had finalized a deal with the Graefes to buy the 70-plus acre public golf course. Greater Annapolis Patch first reported the plans and posted a poll to gauge residents' reactions shortly after.
As of Wednesday night, 66 percent of the 110 votes were against the sale.
According to the release, the community objected to a similar move by St. Mary's School in 2006. St. Mary's eventually backed out of the deal and Ribera Development filed a lawsuit against the community.
The 2006 circuit court ruling said each Annapolis Roads property owner has the right to object to a sale or plan for the golf course that they feel “may harm the Annapolis Roads community,” according to the release.
“That lawsuit resulted from strong objections voiced by the residents of Annapolis Roads opposing the proposed use of the Golf Course for athletic fields and related facilities by St. Mary’s School,” they said in the release.
Key School officials earlier said they plan to primarily use the area as athletic fields and outdoor, environmental education. The residents who filed the lawsuit said they believe those uses “would violate the restrictive covenants that protect the property.”
“The timing of the injunction is important to resolve this matter before Key School spends significant financial resources on plans that may violate the existing Declaration of Restriction on use,” residents said in the release.
Trip Buckenmaier said each member of the community signed the covenants in 1986, adding that the property owners are “nearly unanimous” in their desire to protect them.
“After 13 years of litigation, those homeowners banded together to put the covenants in place, and Annapolis Roads is coming out in force once again to uphold them,” he said in the release.
The release also said the information they received from The Key School was that the school would add a locker room and shower and restroom facilities, as well as space for an outdoor classroom.
“We will not remain silent and allow the Golf Course covenants to be broken, the land subdivided, developed or annexed into the City,” Greg Strott said in the release. “We can’t think of a worse scenario, and we will do everything we can to prevent it.”
Shortly after the school announced it finalized a deal to buy the property, a group of residents formed Preserve Annapolis Roads, held several meetings, posted a website and raised money to file the lawsuit, according to the release.
Key School officials have pledged to work with the residents, but according to Wednesday's release, community members have not seen a copy of the contract.
According to the release: “The residents who are bringing the matter to court feel strongly that the proposed uses would materially change the nature of the community, invalidating the covenants. By continuing to voice their opposition to any use that is adverse to enjoyment of their property, the residents are asking the courts to make a final declaration that will end further bids to use the property for any purpose that would break the existing covenants.”
Editor's note: This article has been changed to correct an error. It has been changed to reflect the fact that in 2006 Ribera Development filed a lawsuit against the community.