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The Key School can officially go ahead with a contested plan to build athletic fields on a former golf course, according to the latest court to hear the case.
School officials said they are pleased the legal fight has been resolved and said their next steps would be to seek county permits and reach out to the Annapolis Roads community, which adjoins the planned facility.
Judge Christopher B. Kehoe of the Court of Special Appeals upheld a Circuit Court decision allowing the school to build athletic fields on a golf course the school purchased.
The school's plans to buy the property, first announced in November 2011, were opposed by many in the Annapolis Roads neighborhood. Their concerns included noise, lights and traffic generated by athletic fields.
Residents Pamela and Chester Buckenmaier III and Patricia and Gregory Strott, representing a group called Preserve Annapolis Roads, sued, alleging the school's plan to build athletic fields on the property would violate land-use covenants.
The covenants, which are decades old, say the land can be used for a golf course, recreational uses, horticultural nurseries, conservation and auxiliary uses related to those categories.
The planned athletic facilities include a baseball field, eight tennis courts, three multipurpose fields, a pool and nature trails.
Complainants contended the fields would be an extension of the school's campus.
Even after a favorable court ruling, The Key School must go through the county to get the necessary permits for the property.
Niels Holch, the co-chairman of the long-range planning committee on the board of trustees for The Key School said, "we're delighted this issue has been put to bed."
Last week, Holch said, the county presented The Key School with comments on the site plan. While there isn't a firm timeline yet, the school hopes to break ground next year, he said. But everything depends on how quickly permits are granted.
Construction is expected to take several years.
Holch said a community meeting on Thursday was constructive.
School spokeswoman Irfan Latimer said there has been a friendly relationship between The Key School in Hillsmere and the adjoining community, and the school hopes to forge a similar relationship with Annapolis Roads neighbors.
The school's neighbors in Hillsmere, Latimer said, "use the campus for playgrounds and during the weekends. We have a very mutually beneficial and respectful relationship."
The school and Annapolis Roads "need to learn to trust one another," she said.
Representatives of the Annapolis Roads community could not immediately be reached for comment on this story.