Attorney barred from further suits against county

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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An attorney representing citizens in a lawsuit against SolUnesco, the developers of Randolph Solar, has been prohibited from filing any additional suit against the Reston, Virginia-based developer.

Not only did retired circuit court Judge Thomas Padrick, who oversaw the case bar attorney John Janson from filing suit against SolUnesco, Janson is also prohibited from initiating any lawsuit against the Planning Commission of Charlotte County, Board of Supervisors, Board of Zoning Appeals, the Commonwealth of Virginia, including any agencies, boards, agents, officers, or directors thereof; and Dominion Energy, Inc. and any of its subsidiaries.

According to the final judgment, Judge Padrick wrote:

“The court finds that, as outlined in Virginia Code § 8.01-271.l(B), the claims asserted in the action initiated by Mr. Janson were neither well-grounded in fact nor warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; that Plaintiffs’ claims were interposed for the improper purpose of harassing Defendants, causing unnecessary delay to the ultimate resolution of this litigation, and increasing the costs of litigation for Defendants; and that Mr. Janson and Plaintiffs George K. Toombs, Donna F. Toombs, Steve Lenhart, Marian T. Lenhart, David M. Cogar, Heather R. Cogar, Levi Toombs, Kevin T. Newcomb. and Stuart R. Topp (the Plaintiffs), have, on past occasions, initiated similarly frivolous and vexatious litigation in this Court. Therefore, the Court finds it appropriate and necessary to enter a prefiling injunction prohibiting Mr. Janson and the Plaintiffs from initiating any lawsuit in this Court.

In June, for the third straight time, an attempt to stop the Randolph Solar Project went before a judge. And for the third time, it was dismissed.

After more than a year since it was filed, the lawsuit to halt the construction of the project, one of the nation’s most extensive solar facilities, has finally ended.

In 2022, Charlotte County citizens George Toombs, Donna Toombs, Steve Lenhart, Marian Lenhart, David Cogar, Heather Cogar, Levi Toombs, Kevin Newcomb, and Stuart Topp filed a case following the approval of the Randolph Solar Project.

This was Toombs’ third attempt to stop the Randolph Solar Project. Two earlier cases in which Toombs served as a plaintiff were previously dismissed by the court.

According to court documents provided by the county, the plaintiffs did not have standing as complainants as they must own and occupy property near the solar project site.

Second, the complainant must allege facts demonstrating particularized harm to some personal or property right, equitable, or imposition of a burden to the plaintiffs different from that suffered by the public generally.

“Plaintiffs bombard the Court with 28 distinct arguments for their position that the Board acted arbitrarily and capriciously in approving the Conditional Use Permit for Randolph, Virginia.” court documents stated. “This “kitchen sink” approach merely highlights, however, that the Plaintiffs’ true goal is not to litigate specific issues but rather to convince the Court to substitute Plaintiffs’ wishes for the judgment of the Board of Supervisors in carrying out the best interests of the County. As is plain from the lengthy legislative record of the approval process in this case, reasonable minds could and did differ about the advisability of approving the Conditional Use Permit. Many citizens were in favor of the project. Others were opposed.”

According to a court document, on June 1, 2022, the BOS held a properly noticed special meeting to discuss the Randolph Solar Project. During that meeting, the Board heard a presentation from SolUnesco and its partners.

It was during that meeting that SolUnesco’s representative focused on the potential economic benefits to the Charlotte County community of approving the CUP Application and the Siting Agreement for the Randolph Solar Project.

Among those benefits was an upfront payment of $20 million to the County, with additional anticipated revenues of $5 million per year, totaling $600 million over the fifty-year lifespan of the Project.

Early this year, the BOS voted to use funds received from solar projects to help reduce taxes for citizens.