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County says suit is flawed

Developer Gene A. Ruark’s $14 million lawsuit against Middlesex County and the Middle-sex 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 Guynn’s two-page demurrer, he contends Ruark’s October 2 lawsuit is flawed. The demurrer states Middlesex County is not a 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.

In his lawsuit, Ruark has asked for “a jury to hear and decide the issue of just compensation due to Plaintiff by reason of the taking of property.”

The lawsuit also points out that on December 22, 2006 the Middlesex Board of Supervisors filed civil litigation against Ruark and VDOT, alleging that Ruark had “responsibility to repair and maintain a portion of Stormont Road (State Route 629) which borders Healy’s Pond and Big Neck Farm,” which are owned by Ruark.

The supervisors’ lawsuit against Ruark was dismissed by the court.

Ruark’s lawsuit also alleges the supervisors were “retaliating” against him for “unrelated grievances.”

posted 10.29.2008

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