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Herring files suit over conservation easement violations in Albemarle County

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Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed suit over alleged conservation easement violations in Albemarle County on behalf of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

According to the complaint, the VOF protects approximately 522 acres of land under an open-space easement in Albemarle County that has been subdivided into three different parcels that are owned by separate individuals. Part of the easement includes building restrictions and VOF alleges that one of the owners built a house that exceeds those restrictions on dwelling size.

The VOF is seeking a temporary injunction that will prevent further construction activities on the property, as well as permanent relief “to restore the Property to a condition that complies with the Easement.”

“When someone buys land that is under an easement, they generally know that there are terms, conditions and restrictions to owning that property and building on it,” Herring said. “This landowner allegedly completely ignored the terms of the easement put on their land and built a house that greatly exceeded the dwelling size limits. In Virginia, we pride ourselves on protecting our land and keeping it beautiful for generations, and those who choose to disregard those protections and violate an agreement should be held accountable.”

Under the terms of the easement, “only one new dwelling may be built on the Property and that dwelling cannot exceed 3,000 square feet of above-ground enclosed living area.” But the owner in question, who purchased the land with knowledge of the easement and the dwelling size restrictions, allegedly ignored those provisions and built a home that greatly exceeds the size restrictions.

Created by the General Assembly in 1966, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is Virginia’s leader in land conservation, protecting more than 850,000 acres in 111 counties and cities.

VOF protects a wide variety of open spaces, from farms and forests to parks and historic landscapes and they work with federal, state, local, and private conservation organizations to achieve their mission.