Town of Sykesville and Warfield Lawsuit Entanglements Continue Over Housing Development

Originally published in by Sherry Greenfield Carroll County Times

The Town of Sykesville and Warfield Historic Properties LLC continue to be embroiled in legal disputes, the first of which was filed in December 2021, and the most recent on Aug. 18.

Warfield, developer of Warfield at Historic Sykesville, a mixed-use housing and commercial development on Route 32, filed a counterclaim in the Circuit Court of Carroll County on Aug. 18, in response to the town’s June lawsuit, alleging that Warfield has made little or no progress in preserving and reusing nine historic buildings at the site for affordable housing, which it agreed to do when the property was purchased in 2018.

The town is asking the court to enter a judgment in its favor and against Warfield Historic Properties LLC and Warfield Historic Quad LLC for breach of contract, according to court documents. The town is also asking to be awarded $3 million in damages.

Warfield’s counterclaim states that the town violated its duty of good faith and fair dealing to cooperate with the developers, according to court papers.

“We have not abandoned a workforce housing project for the historic buildings at Warfield, but the town’s lawsuit and its subversion of our efforts in the past have put this part of the project — admittedly the most important part — on hold,” Steven McCleaf, president of Langley Realty Partners, LLC, which oversees the day-to-day operations of Warfield at Historic Sykesville, said in an email on Friday.

McCleaf said the company spent $8.2 million to purchase the property, helping to resolve more than $5 million in town debt related to Sykesville’s “failed effort” at Warfield, and has invested “millions” since closing on the property in 2018.

“Town leadership has actively disrupted millions in additional investment by disparaging the developer both publicly and in private with capital partners, contractors, and consultants,” he said. “In addition, town leadership has consistently refused to meet with the developer to discuss commercially reasonable proposals for the future of Warfield and has rejected mediation.”

McCleaf said the town’s denial of due process, and the lawsuits, indicated Mayor Stacy Link’s sole intent is to seize control of the property, and put at risk more than $30 million in state and federal incentives needed to make Warfield viable.

“The town owned the property for 16 years and failed in its efforts to rescue Warfield’s historic buildings or to create an economically viable project — going millions into debt in the process,” he said. “The town’s lawsuit is misguided. It is a recipe for disaster.”

Link issued her own statement Friday in response to Warfield’s countersuit.

“A party may assert as a counterclaim any claim that party has against any opposing party, whether or not arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party’s claim,” Link said. “That’s exactly what they’ve done here. Besides its contents having nothing to do with the town’s original filing, which is merely an exercise in accountability to the preservation agreement, the counter claim lacks merit.”

Link is out of the country and issued her statement through email.

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