The prospect of a Muslim-only retirement village on Trails Way didn't sit well with some neighbors in Joppatowne.
"I don't think that's right being Muslim only,” said William Puntey, “I think it should be open to anybody."
And in the legal battle, which followed, the county denied water, sewer and occupancy permits to 14 Muslim homeowners whose houses had already been built.
Now a U.S. district court judge has ruled the county can no longer withhold the permits and today, we found the first of those owners preparing to move in after nine months of delay.
One of the four original neighbors down the street, Gloria Boyle, is celebrating the ruling.
"I'm so glad to see something moving,” said Boyle, “I hope our property values go up. I'm concerned about them not, but if they go up, I'm pleased, because we're anxious to sell our house."
Anxious to sell amidst an emerging health concern once the county put the brakes on the project.
When the construction crews pulled out, illegal dumpers moved in, discarding furniture, old televisions and giant dumpsters full of refuse.
The court stopped short of allowing people who have bought empty lots in the development to start construction pending the outcome of lawsuits from both sides.
"Well, I never thought they were just marketing to Muslims, but I think some people in the neighborhood might have felt that way. I didn't. My husband didn't,” said Boyle, “We just wanted the property to start moving so we could have a vibrant neighborhood."
In a written statement, Harford County Spokesperson Cindy Mumby said, "Harford County handled this project properly and treated it the same as any other. We are confident that we will ultimately prevail when this issue goes to trial."
CEO William Luther of Gemcraft Homes, the project's builder, also commented calling it “cold, cowardly and cruel” for the county to block people from taking delivery of their homes in the first place.