Final dismissal ordered in solar lawsuit

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

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On Friday, Feb. 4, a judge entered a final order for dismissal of a lawsuit that named the county Board of Supervisors, a solar development company, and several county individuals as defendants.

Judge Kimberly Wright initially dismissed the lawsuit on Jan. 19.

Following the Feb. 4 order, the plaintiffs now have thirty days to file a notice of appeal.

On Sept. 28, John Janson, a South Hill attorney, filed the original lawsuit in Charlotte County Circuit Court on behalf of Faye Trent individually and as a fiduciary of Ruth A. Hansen Wilcox, after Trent said SolUnesco and company CEO Frances Hodsoll obtained a signed land lease option agreement dated Nov. 23, 2020, with Wilcox, who was incapable of making such decisions.

According to lawsuit documents, the defendants, individually and together, talked Wilcox, 83, who is known to have dementia, into granting an option to SolUnesco to lease her family farm for use in the Randolph Solar project.

Hodsoll has maintained that the company has done nothing wrong.

In addition to Hodsoll, Janson’s lawsuit also claimed that William Berkley Devin, who owns a large portion of land included in the Randolph Solar project, needed SolUnesco to obtain Wilcox’s land in order for his land portions to be included.

Devin has also maintained that he did nothing wrong and the allegation brought against him were false.

“All of those charges against me and the others were proven to be unfounded,” Devin said. “It’s a shame that the county taxpayers had to pay to defend against this suit.”

Following the dismissal, SolUnesco Communications Director Melody Gee said the company would continue to advance the Randolph Solar project.

SolUnesco, a Reston, Virginia company, is seeking to construct one of the nation’s most extensive solar facilities in the county at 800 megawatts.