The Story Behind Linden Farm
Scenes around the Ag Reserve
In 1996 (eighteen years ago!) Sugarloaf Citizens’ Association and
Montgomery County entered into an agreement to settle litigation
pending since 1994 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. This lawsuit
had been filed by Sugarloaf because of actions taken by Montgomery
County. The fascinating story behind this litigation is the following.
In 1980 a working dairy farm (Matthews Farm) in Dickerson, Maryland
comprising some 277 acres with a large farmhouse, barns and
numerous outbuildings was purchased by Montgomery County on
an expedited basis for the construction of a sewage sludge compost
facility. The County immediately constructed a 45 acre asphalt pad,
ponds, and a maintenance building. In order to ensure that this large
and unexpected facility would not result in adverse health risks for
the community Sugarloaf decided to start administrative proceedings.
However, with an assurance from Montgomery County that the
sludge compost facility was to be temporary, Sugarloaf entered into
settlement negotiations and a 1981 agreement provided for closure
and a “reuse” plan which included removal of part of the asphalt pad
while the remainder was to be used for composting leaves during four
months in the fall.
By the 1990’s the area outside the compost facility had been severely
neglected by the County, the farmhouse had burned and other buildings
had deteriorated. Although the remaining buildings had been recommended
as a historic resource, no action was taken by the County.
In 1993 the compost facility was recommended by the County as
the site for all yard waste in Montgomery County. The asphalt pad
was expanded and the facility’s capacity was increased from 40,000
tons to 70,000 tons per year and the County anticipated further
expansion. Thus, what had been seasonal leaf composting was now
rapidly becoming a major industrial activity. Sugarloaf was alarmed
since such expansion would violate the 1981 agreement but its pleas to
the County were neglected.
In 1994 Sugarloaf filed a breach of contract action against Montgomery
County but in 1995 the court proceedings were stayed to
facilitate settlement negotiations. After nearly seven months of discussions
a written agreement was executed which included
restrictions on future changes to the facility, a limit to the volume
handled by the facility (77,000 tons), the conveyance to Sugarloaf
of original farm fields, and the long overdue restoration of those
remaining farm properties which could be saved. Sugarloaf is now
responsible for managing the restored properties which have become
headquarters of the Association under the name of Linden Farm.
(With thanks to Jane Hunter, Sugarloaf’s President at the time)
(In memory of William J. Roberts, Esq., who administered the litigation)
Dick Hill, President
Sugarloaf Citizens’ Association