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Decision on beleaguered Alwington development could come soon

Thursday, Dec. 19 | By Staff
A Warrenton-area residential developer's land use lawsuit against Fauquier County is still up in the air— for now.

After an hour-and-a-half demurrer hearing Monday morning, Fauquier County Circuit Court judge Jeffrey Parker said he would issue an opinion on the matter in four of the five counts brought forth by The Alwington Farms Developers LLC.

Parker said he would like to issue that opinion by the end of the year.

A demurrer hearing asks a judge to consider if there is a legally sufficient claim for a lawsuit to continue.

The end result of Monday's legal proceedings means that four of the counts can still go to trial at a yet-to-be-determined date.

The lone count Parker dismissed was the plaintiff's claim that Fauquier County's land use regulations were arbitrary and capricious based on exclusionary zoning.

After eight unsuccessful attempts to get permission from Fauquier County to build homes on a 439-acre plot, Alwington Farms Developers LLC took the county to court last November.

Alwington wants to build a single-family home development on land near the Wal-Mart and The Home Depot in Warrenton.

After being rejected for the eighth time, the developers filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging violations of the U.S. Constitution, the Dillon Rule, the newly passed Eminent Domain Amendment and numerous claims of illegal county ordinances.

The developer has claimed, among other things, that the property has a by-right use. Bringing water to the subdivision has also been a major bone of contention.

In its most recent application to the county, Alwington stated that each home would have an individual well and drain field, believing the Fauquier Water and Sanitation Authority requirement for a water system too stringent.

According to paperwork Fallon presented last fall to the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors, the requirement was nearly 10 times what the neighborhood would average per day in water consumption.

This fall, the Town of Warrenton rejected Alwington's offer of $3 million for tapping into the town's water system. The proposed subdivision is within the Warrenton Service District, which receives its water from the town.

Earlier in the year, the board voted 3 to 2 to approve an ordinance that forces developers to conduct a hydrogeologic study to determine the location and quantity of groundwater before, rather, than after receiving preliminary plat approval by county staff.

In court documents obtained by Fauquier Times, the developer claims that the study would take up to a year and cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Even if it did consent to the study, Alwington Farms claims that it can legally perform the testing after the approval of the preliminary plat since its application was under consideration before the board's decision to change the timing.

In documents filed this April with circuit court, the county claims that the hydrogeological ordinance doesn't violate Virginia law or Virginia code, regardless of the date of adoption.

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