Brandy Station update

On May 18, 1995, 24 private landholders, owning over 5,000 acres in Culpeper and Fauquier Counties located in the nearby vicinity of the proposed racetrack, filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court for the Western District of ...

On May 18, 1995, 24 private landholders, owning over 5,000 acres in Culpeper and Fauquier Counties located in the nearby vicinity of the proposed racetrack, filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Charlottesville) against Benton Ventures, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, and James Lazor, its President, a Maryland developer, to stop construction of a proposed automobile and motorcycle racetrack. This is a "property rights" lawsuit in that the plaintiffs seek to enforce their rights to the quiet enjoyment of their properties, free from the noise, smells, litter, fumes, dust, and traffic associated with the proposed racetrack. The Brandy Station Foundation, owning no land in the immediate area is not a party to the lawsuit. Actually, the racetrack would be located on 515 acres at the core of the National Register- eligible Civil War Battlefield which the National Trust for Historic Preservation has said is one of the eleven most endangered historic sites in the nation. The lawsuit is based on the legal theories of both public and private nuisance. Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is the firm of Arnold & Porter, one of Washington, D.C.'s largest firms, led by William D. Rogers and Daniel Rezneck. Local counsel is Art Larson, a land use attorney practicing in Culpeper, Virginia. Lazor of Benton Ventures has said that construction of one of the largest racetracks on the East Coast is imminent. Lazor's plans call for crowds of over 50,000 people, using more than 16,000 automobiles, attending three and four-day racing weekends, which would more than double the population of rural Culpeper County. However, Lazor has suffered a series of setbacks lately, after receiving zoning clearance from Culpeper County's Board of Supervisors on February 1, 1994. First, one of the racetrack's largest backers, Thomas Golisano, Rochester, N.Y. businessman and 1994 Independence Fusion Party candidate for governor of N.Y. State, announced he was pulling out. Next, Lazor's engineering firm which had laid out the racetrack filed a mechanic's lien against the racetrack property for $300,000 in unpaid work vouchers. Lazor also is seeking a U.S. Corps of Engineer permit to fill in certain wetlands on the racetrack site, a process which has now lasted over one year because of environmental, historic, and archeological sensitivity of the land in question. A number of national Civil War groups have expressed interest in buying the Battlefield land at assessed values; but it is reputed that the developers are asking two-three times what they paid for the land. Perhaps, the possibility of successful completion of the lawsuit will bring all interested persons back to the bargaining table.

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