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Verdict in Catlett Farm trial could take months

Monday, Mar. 17 | By Jonathan Hunley
Witness testimony in the case of a developer suing Fauquier County over the denial of a building project was completed Wednesday, but a verdict could be months away.

Catlett Farm LLC has argued in Fauquier Circuit Court that the Board of Supervisors arbitrarily and capriciously turned down a proposal to bring homes, businesses and a sewage-treatment plant to Catlett.

Supervisors in December 2011 voted 3-2 to deny the Village of Catlett project that called for more than 200 homes and as much as 85,000 square feet of commercial space on nearly 800 acres at Route 28 and Dumfries Road.

Now that testimony is over, attorneys for both sides will file briefs before Judge Jeffrey W. Parker makes a ruling.

So it could be weeks or even months before a decision is announced.

But regardless of the verdict, the outcome could prove significant in terms of future land-use decisions in Fauquier County.

Much of the case has focused on the proposed wastewater-treatment plant. Catlett Farm LLC offered to build the plant and perhaps pay for existing residents in the area to connect to it, depending on how many homes supervisors would allow to be built. Essentially, the more homes the developer could construct, the more money it could spend on the treatment-plant facet of the project.

Drain fields have been failing in Catlett and Calverton for years, so the developer contends that its project would help fix a longstanding problem in addition to being necessary for its new construction.

Catlett Farm LLC also has noted that its project, though criticized by some community groups, would be in an area of Fauquier that county leaders identified for residential growth.

"We believe we made a very strong case for why it makes good economic and environmental sense for our project to be approved by Fauquier County leaders to help the citizens of Catlett," Catlett Farm LLC spokesman Mark Hubbard said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "We remain disappointed that we were forced to ask the court to intervene, but reasonable growth in designated service districts is in the best interest of all Fauquier County taxpayers."

County officials declined to comment Wednesday.

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