The Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail’s attempt to condemn land in Baltimore’s Westport neighborhood has officially been struck down.
The land is a critical piece in the company’s plans for a high-speed maglev route.
The high-speed rail group tried unsuccessfully to buy the land for the project, and ended up filing a lawsuit, claiming eminent domain.
After a 30-minute virtual hearing on Aug. 30, Circuit Court Judge Kendra Ausby dismissed the lawsuit, allowing a developer to begin a 1,300-unit apartment and town house project.
Ausby said the rail company lacked the authority to use the property for public use through eminent domain. Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail CEO Wayne Rogers said he will appeal the decision, and is still moving forward with a $10 billion high-speed maglev project.
The Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail acquired the former Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railroad Co. franchise, and believed the ability to condemn was tied to the franchise.
The land that was in question, Westport’s undeveloped waterfront, is needed for two potential maglev routes. Rogers said if the land cannot be obtained for the project, houses might have to be condemned. The railroad company is in the process of submitting an environmental impact statement to the Federal Railroad Administration, but the agency is not expected to make a decision until next year. Baltimore, however, has asked the federal government not to approve the maglev route, and under state public utilities law the city’s consent is required.