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Mobtown Beat

Beans and Bread sues abutting homeowner

The long-running fight between St. Vincent de Paul’s expanding Beans and Bread center and nearby residents deteriorated further last month, as the Catholic charity filed a lawsuit against its most persistent critic.

Filed July 6 and served July 30, the suit claims that Deirdre Hammer—whose Dallas Street home abuts the 7,000 foot expansion of the homeless services center in Upper Fells Point—has abused the legal process.

Recently, Hammer (and an engineering consultant she hired) has said that the project’s excavation damaged her roughly 150-year-old home. Workers also dug up her garden and fenced off an easement she had exclusive rights to. She filed a lawsuit last year to stop the construction and get the new fence removed and the old one replaced. The new lawsuit claims Hammer temporarily gave up rights to the easement and is now disingenuously claiming she never did. “By Hammer’s own admission, she consented to the use of the fence area by SVDP and its general contractor, provided that her fence was rebuilt and her plantings replaced on or before April 1, 2012,” the suit says. “Nonetheless, Hammer filed the Civil Action and sought emergency relief more than three (3) months before the deadline that she established herself.”

Hammer says the charity’s CEO, John Schiavone, is trying to bully her. “Basically this is a SLAPP suit,” she says, using the acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” “He wants me to spin my wheels, spend more money on attorneys . . . and it’s also a form of intimidation.”

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