In a landmark decision that is as uplifting for property rights advocates as it is devastating for land trusts throughout the United States, the Virginia Supreme Court on February 12 overwhelmingly ruled in favor of a small Loudoun County winery in its multi-year battle with one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups. By a 5-2 margin, the Virginia Supremes upheld a lower court decision that Chrysalis Vineyards’ plans to upgrade its facilities did not violate the terms of a conservation easement on the property held by Wetlands America Trust (WAT), on behalf of Ducks Unlimited (DU). The case, Wetlands America [...]
Heather Richards may have resigned from her job with the Piedmont Environmental Council, but she is in a position of even greater authority now as chair of the Land Trust Accredication Commission -- and one wonders whether other land trusts are also abusing power as the PEC clearly did. As for Richards, she cannot even seem to tell the truth about her upbringing.
The once-respected Piedmont Environmental Council has been shamed by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Virginia Assistant Attorney General Richard Mahevich for misdeeds surrounding its sale of Liberty Farm to organic farmer Martha Boneta. The PEC had inserted language into an easement agreement with Ms. Boneta and the VOF that benefitted PEC member Phil Thomas, who then took various actions against Ms. Boneta in a blatant attempt to force her to abandon the property she had turned from a dump into a profitable operation. Now the Virginia legislature is considering legislation to curb the power of land trusts.
Thursday was a good day for Liberty in Richmond -- both the farm and the ideal.
The Piedmont Environmental Council sees itself as the guardians -- and also the lords -- of Virginia's rural landscape. Their thirst for power has been whetted by a proposal by a Donald Trump enterprise to expand a nine-hole golf course to 18 holes, hardly an environmentally devastating development. PEC built its reputation by stopping a Disney theme park, so this attempt to "trump" this development is no surprise.