MARYLAND

Fight over farm continues in Montgomery County

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There is a new development in the legal battle between a Montgomery County farm and the county's school system.

The owners of "Nick's Farm" say the school system has taken new steps to force them off their land.

Pictures taken Tuesday show Montgomery County Public Schools security officials taking off locks on two fences and putting on new ones.

A surprise to Sophia Maravell, whose father, Nick Maravell, has been farming the land for decades.

"They said they were just following orders and would ensure that no unauthorized users entered the property," Sophia said.

But Nick and other neighborhood groups have been embroiled in a fight with the Board of Education over plans to turn the 20-acre farm into soccer fields.

"I'm surprised they are doing premature to the judge's decision," Sophia added.

She is referring to pending litigation, where a judge will decide if the Board of Education went through the right process to lease the land. Sophia questions why security officials locked just two of the three fences, which still allows her to access the farm.

A school district spokesman told ABC7 that's because they want the Maravells to remove their equipment.

The spokesman went on to say the property belongs to them, adding:
"There is no lease for the property. Mr. Maravell has no right to be on the property. On. Aug. 17, he was sent a letter saying he could access the property ONLY to harvest existing crops. On September 21, he was told that he and all of his equipment needed to be off the property as of the end of December."

But the Maravells find it odd that the move comes days after a letter showing support for the Maravells from the majority of the county's delegates and senators began circulating.

A school district spokesperson says the change in locks only happened after security personnel inspecting the property realized it had locks that didn't belong to the district.

The Board of Education decided today to have a closed meeting, where they'll get legal advice regarding the property. No word on whether the board will later publicly discuss what happened in their closed door meeting.

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