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updated 10.28.2008

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County seeks dismissal of $14 million lawsuit

Developer Gene A. Ruark’s $14 million lawsuit against Middlesex County and the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors should be dismissed, according to a demurrer filed Tuesday, October 28, by attorney Jim H. Guynn Jr. of Salem, who is representing the county.

Ruark sued the county on October 2, claiming that the Middlesex Board of Supervisors’ failure to rezone his 630 acres at Hartfield from Low Density Rural to Residential “illegally discriminated” against him and “denied him equal protection of the law.”

In his two-page demurrer filed in Middlesex County Circuit Court on Tuesday, Guynn contends Ruark’s October 2 lawsuit is flawed. The demurrer states Middlesex County is not the proper defendant; Ruark fails to allege that the supervisors “intentionally discriminated against him because of his membership in a protected class”; and the lawsuit fails to state that Ruark has vested rights and that the supervisors’ actions deprived him of all economically viable use of the property.

Ruark’s $14 million lawsuit states he has been attempting without success to get his Hartfield property rezoned for a 379-house development since 2004.

On September 2, 2008 the board of supervisors voted 3-2 to deny Ruark’s latest rezoning request. Voting against rezoning were supervisors Fred Crittenden, Kenneth W. Williams and Jack Miller. Voting in favor were supervisors Bob Crump and Wayne Jessie.

posted 10.28.2008

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