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Developer sues Middlesex for $14 million

by Larry S. Chowning

Land developer Gene A. Ruark of Deltaville filed a $14 million lawsuit in Middlesex County Circuit Court on October 2 against the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors and the County of Middlesex.

The suit stems from the fact Middlesex supervisors have denied several rezoning applications that would have allowed Ruark to develop a 379-home subdivision on a portion of Big Neck Farm at Harmony Village.

In September, by a 3-2 vote, the supervisors denied Ruark’s request to rezone 630 acres from Low Density Rural to Residential, which would have allowed the major subdivision.

In the suit, it states Ruark has been attempting since 2004 to get the land rezoned from Low Density Rural to Residential and has been unsuccessful because “at least two of the three supervisors who voted for denial indicated on the record that they were retaliating against [Ruark] for unrelated grievances, including even a private [road] matter between plaintiff [Ruark] and the daughter of one of the supervisors.”

Pinetop District supervisor Fred Crittenden argued at an earlier meeting that in another six-lot subdivision, Ruark sold lots without providing a road to access the lots.

At the last rezoning hearing, supervisor Kenneth W. Williams also said he had received complaints from county citizens concerning Ruark not providing proper roads to lots in his subdivisions.

The suit states that the county “illegally discriminated against the plaintiff and denied him rights and benefits afforded other citizens of the county, denied his application for impermissible reasons, retaliated against plaintiff for exercising his legal rights, and otherwise denied plaintiff equal protection of the law.”

The suit also states that damages suffered to the plaintiff are equal to the value of the property with residential zoning in place, which is not less than $14 million.

Ruark also has requested that his court costs be paid by the county.

County attorney Mike Soberick was served with the papers on Tuesday morning during the October 7 board of supervisors meeting. Soberick informed the board of the suit at the meeting, but no board member commented.

posted 10.08.2008

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