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Supervisors file response to agri-resort lawsuit

Supervisors file response to agri-resort lawsuit

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Crescere, formerly known as Ken-Walt, is located on Route 231 in the Uno area of Madison County, a few miles from Somerset. 

Madison County Supervisors say the complaint filed against them regarding a special use permit for an agritourism resort is insufficient as a matter of law.

In August, the Madison County Board of Supervisors approved a SUP to allow for the creation of a rural resort or event venue on a 762 acre property off Rt. 231 in Uno. The property, formerly known as Ken-Walt Farm and renamed Crescere, is owned by Orange resident Barbara Miller via Crystallis, LLC. Miller’s SUP covers seven parcels with a total of approximately 749.3 acres and consists of a variety of buildings including a spa, welcome center, restaurant and cottages, plus glamping and camping sites.

In response, neighboring property owners William and Christina Rother filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgement against the supervisors, property owner Crystallis, LLC and Crescere Resort which seeks to make the SUP invalid. They allege the approval was improper and violates both the zoning ordinance and Virginia Code and should be voided “ab initio” or “from the beginning.”

“The lack of specificity provided in the SUP application for the various ‘uses’ allows the owner/operator of the project property to implement whatever uses and in whatever fashion they want at the project property with its event venue,” the complaint reads.

The complaint also alleges that notification for the Aug. 5 public hearing was incomplete with many adjacent landowners not notified, which goes against both Virginia Code and the county’s zoning ordinance and the SUP violates the zoning ordinance since the use isn’t in harmony with the intent of the zoning district and would adversely affect the use of neighboring property. The Rothers state they will negatively impacted and harmed by the development of the resort and their use and quiet enjoyment of their property will be impaired.

However, the supervisors say the complaint is insufficient and should not be prosecuted. In a response filed last week, attorneys Jennifer Royer and Sean Gregg said the Rothers fail to state sufficient facts to demonstrate they have or will suffer damage that is different from that suffered by the public at large, that they have any immediate interest in the subject matter of the SUP or that the board has denied them any personal or property right by granting the SUP. The attorneys also state that the Rothers fail to allege any antagonistic actions between them and the board and their professed harms “are merely speculative, conjectural or hypothetical” and not real or immediate. They state the claim is based entirely upon the Rothers’ disagreement with the board’s decision and a mere disagreement with government, coupled with the possibility of future difficulties, is not sufficient to involve the remedy of declaratory judgement. Because of these reasons, the attorneys state that the complaint must be dismissed.

In addition, the response states the Rothers lack standing to challenge the SUP since the property identified in the complaint is owned by Belle Mont Farm, LLC. Also, there are two properties between Belle Mont Farm and Crescere—one which is 35.439 acres and the other 364.468 acres.

“Even if the plaintiffs did, in fact, own the Belle Mont Farm Property, the Plaintiffs have failed to allege how ownership of property that far away from the subject property would make them aggrieved persons under Virginia law,” states the defense attorneys.

They also point out that Belle Mont Farm is served by Race Ground Road while Crescere is served by Blue Ridge Turnpike and concerns about traffic, noise and light pollution are no different than those of the public at large.

Therefore, the defense attorneys request the complaint against the supervisors be dismissed with prejudice. As of Monday, Crystallis, LLC had not yet responded to the complaint.

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