Damages sought

The first lawsuit

The first suit has one count, alleging Fluvanna’s “wrongful refusal or withdrawal of consent” to the James River water project, which would take water from the James River and pipe it through Fluvanna to Louisa, then on to Zion Crossroads.

Prior to denying two necessary special use permits (SUPs) on Dec. 2, Fluvanna County consented multiple times to the water project, the lawsuit alleges, most notably in the 2013 interjurisdictional agreement signed by Fluvanna, Louisa, the LCWA, and the JRWA.

“By unilaterally denying the SUPs, Fluvanna County has unlawfully and improperly withheld, or alternatively unlawfully and improperly withdrawn previously granted, consent” for the project, the lawsuit states.

That withdrawal of consent has resulted in costs to Louisa of $40 million in direct and consequential damages, the suit alleges.

Because of that, the suit requests the court to determine that Fluvanna was wrong to withhold its support for the SUPs and to order that Louisa be allowed to construct the system.


Fluvanna should have to bear the engineering costs of any change in design, plus pay to Louisa any increases in project costs – for both construction and financing – resulting from the delay, the lawsuit states.

Alternately, if the court finds Fluvanna to be at fault but refrains from ordering the system to be built, the suit demands that Fluvanna pay Louisa $40 million in damages “for its lost ability to construct an adequate water supply for its citizens.”

The second lawsuit

The second suit, in which Louisa, the LCWA, and the JRWA are all plaintiffs, has two counts.  One count alleges that “the denial of the SUPs was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable, and bore no relationship to any legitimate land use goal.”  Denying the SUPs frustrated Fluvanna’s own Comprehensive Plan and harmed its citizens by dooming them to “skyrocketing tax rates,” the suit states.

Certain uses of land are allowed automatically, or “by right,” in zoning.  Currently the land for which the SUPs were sought is zoned A-1, or agricultural.  The conditions placed on the SUPs would have “mitigated all impacts of the James River water line to the level of by-right uses in the A-1 district or below,” the suit alleges.

Essentially, the suit states, Fluvanna used the SUP process to “void valid and existing agreements.”

But more than that, the lawsuit states that Fluvanna never had a right to require an SUP in the first place.

The interjurisdictional agreement of 2013 which authorized the system, and which Fluvanna signed, “prevails over any SUP requirement,” the suit states.

“The requirement of an SUP was nothing more than an attempt to impose unlawful conditions on Louisa County, LCWA, and JRWA,” the suit alleges.

In fact, Fluvanna’s own zoning ordinance prevents it from requiring an SUP, the lawsuit claims, and Louisa and the LCWA lodged their objections before the Dec. 2 vote.

Therefore, the suit requests the court to find that no SUP should have been required.  It also asks the court to remand the SUPs back to Fluvanna for approval, and if Fluvanna fails to comply, to issue an injunction forbidding Fluvanna from interfering with development of the water line.

The suit also seeks attorneys’ fees and court costs, plus any increases in the project’s expense – both in its construction and financing – that result from the delay.

Those associated with the lawsuits were not immediately available for comment.

Neither suit has been served.  Mike Lockaby, LCWA attorney, said the parties hope the issues can be resolved through mediation and through Fluvanna’s new votes on the SUPs on Jan. 20.

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