- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 December 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 23 December 2009 05:00
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Litigation O’Gara neighbors brought against members of the Westmoreland County government more than six months ago and the county’s countersuit against the petitioners won’t be heard this Wednesday.
Substitute Judge Jay T. Swett requested a postponement this Monday morning, following a winter storm that left record-breaking snow accumulation throughout the commonwealth.
The petition filed by the neighbors of the O’Gara establishment in the county’s Circuit Court in June 2009 alleged that members of the Westmoreland Industrial Development Authority and Board of Supervisors acted improperly when they met behind closed doors with representatives from the O’Gara Group on Jan. 12, 2009.
When no Fifteenth Judicial Circuit judge agreed to hear the case alleging that members of the local government had acted improperly, the Virginia Supreme Court appointed the Honorable Jay T. Swett, a retired Sixteenth Judicial Circuit judge from Ivy, Va. Ivy is located a short distance from Charlottesville, where some of the greatest snow accumulations were measured following last week’s record breaking storm.
On Dec. 22 no new hearing date had yet been established. Dec. 28, 29 and 30 and Jan. 4 and 5 were being entertained as possibilities.
The complaint against members of the local government asserts that O’Gara’s training activities will disrupt the lives of nearby residents, depriving them of their ability to enjoy the quiet and rural character of their own properties and homes.
The petition asserts that O’Gara’s gunfire and other military-style activities are an incompatible land use activity that will diminish the value of nearby properties. The petitioners expressed concern that the O’Gara presence has additionally generated uncertainty about future development, possibly establishing a precedent for other corporate soldier training establishments to locate in an otherwise rural jurisdiction.
At the heart of the June 2009 petition are O’Gara neighbors’ assertions that members of the county government acted in disregard of Virginia Freedom of Information Act requirements.
The county’s Board of Supervisors and Industrial Development Authority met in closed session with O’Gara and later ratified a contract to sell county property to The O’Gara Group.
The June 2009 petition asks the Circuit Court to void the January 2009 sales agreement between O’Gara Group and the county’s Industrial Development Authority. The January sales agreement was extended in Spring 2009 and a new contract was ratified on June 29.
The June 29, 2009, sales contract is believed to expire on Dec. 31. Action was delayed pending resolution of O’Gara related litigations still pending in Westmoreland Circuit Court.