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O'Gara wins court battle over zoning for facility in Westmoreland
|Read the court ruling.|
Date published: 12/30/2010
A judge has ruled that Westmoreland County officials violated the Virginia Freedom of Information act in a 2009 closed-door discussion of a prospective O'Gara security-training center.
But the county acted legally in zoning and permitting actions that allowed O'Gara to build and occupy classrooms and shooting ranges on 335 acres of agricultural land near Montross, Westmoreland Circuit Court Judge Designate Jay T. Swett said in a decision issued Tuesday.
Furthermore, Swett said in his 26-page decision, nearby residents who contested the county's O'Gara decisions had no legal standing to sue to overturn them.
"The plaintiffs have not presented sufficient evidence that they have suffered any injury to them as a result of the presence of the O'Gara facility or that any use or enjoyment of their property is or may be adversely impacted by the activities of the O'Gara school," Swett said.
Swett also concluded that the O'Gara training base
"The purpose of a school is for the education, training and instruction of students. That is the stated purpose for the O'Gara training facility. The fact that the subjects to be taught deal with national security and counterterrorism subjects does not mean that the facility is not a school.
"It is the court's conclusion that the zoning administrator and the [Board of Zoning Appeals] correctly concluded that the O'Gara training facility was a school within the meaning of the Westmoreland County Zoning Ordinance," said Swett.
In an e-mail sent yesterday to supporters and reporters, lead plaintiff George Ripol said, "I regret to say that we essentially lost. Needless to say, we are disappointed."
The judge's decision covered three lawsuits filed by Ripol and others. The suits were tried in September. Attorneys submitted legal briefs to the court in November.