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VMRC may act to remove sunken barge

by Tom Chillemi

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) could consider taking “enforcement action” to have a sunken barge removed from Urbanna Creek, said VMRC spokesman John Bull.

A 90-foot-long barge has been on the bottom of Urbanna Creek since March 2012. The barge removal is expected to be on VMRC’s agenda on December 10 and be considered by the nine members of the commission, said Bull.

Following a two-hour trial on October 21 in Middlesex General District Court, Judge Jeffrey W. Shaw found that Raymond E. Watson Jr. of Mechanicsville was the barge owner and found him guilty of a misdemeanor for not removing a hazard from state waters. Judge Shaw imposed the maximum fine of $500, plus $81 in court costs, but did not order Watson to raise the barge.

According to court records, as of Monday the fine had not been paid and was marked “past due.”

The Virginia Marine Police brought the charge against Watson in June 2013 after he failed to follow an order to remove the barge within 30 days.

Bull said the marine police worked on the case for more than a year to prove barge ownership. “We have done everything we can to get to this point,” said Bull, “and we are not done.”

Now that ownership has been established, the commission can “authorize the Virginia Attorney General to compel the owner to remove it promptly,” Bull added.

Bull said enforcement action could be initiated in circuit court.

The barge owner could face a fine of up to $10,000 for non-compliance, said Bull.

The barge sank at the former Urbanna Yachting Center on Watling Street near the Urbanna Bridge. Watson was a partner or involved with the marina owners Potomac Timber Investments #227 LLC. The marina was at the center of a $4.5 million lawsuit filed in 2008 by Potomac Timber against the Town of Urbanna for denying its site plan, which sought the construction of 14 proposed condominiums on marina property.

Potomac Timber withdrew the lawsuit in July 2011.

Property auction
The 1.47-acre marina property was sold at public auction at a “trustee’s sale” on October 28 at the Middlesex County Circuit Court building.

RREF BB-VA PTI, LLC, a Virginia limited liability company and the noteholder that foreclosed on the Potomac Timber Investments #227 LLC property in Urbanna, was the successful bidder at $700,000, said Andy Bury, attorney for the Urbanna Town Council. Rialto Capital of Miami is the agent for RREF BB-VA PTI, LLC. 

posted 11.13.2013

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