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Solar lawsuit clears hurdle, to be heard

SoVaNow.com / May 24, 2018
The lawsuit filed by Bud Capps against Crystal Hill Solar, LLC and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors to halt the construction of a solar farm adjacent to Capps’ property is now cleared for trial based on the May 21 ruling of Amherst County Judge J. Michael Gamble (Ret.).

On Jan. 8, the Board of Supervisors granted Crystal Hill a conditional use permit allowing them to construct a large-scale, 65-megawatt solar farm on 629 acres located on the south side of Crystal Hill Road (Route 610) near the intersection of Woodchuck Trail.

On Feb. 7, Bud Capps, represented by attorney Michael A. Cole, filed a lawsuit in the Halifax County Circuit Court seeking monetary damages of $100,000 and a permanent injunction to halt construction. Capps is a resident of North Carolina and owns property adjacent to the proposed Crystal Hill solar farm.

Both the Board of Supervisors, represented by James Daniel of the Danville law firm Daniel, Medley & Kirby, PC, and Crystal Hill, represented by Christopher M. Malone of Richmond law firm ThompsonMcMullan, PC, filed pleadings with the court that admitted the truth of the facts alleged by Capps, but claimed that the facts were not sufficient to sustain the causes of action in the Complaint.

The Board of Supervisors also filed a motion claiming the government has immunity from all lawsuits, and Crystal Hill filed a motion claiming that Capps failed to submit all documentation necessary to support his claims.

These types of motions serve to have a lawsuit thrown out without getting to the merits of the case.

Gamble denied the demurs filed by the Board of Supervisors and Crystal Hill, as well as the county’s claim of immunity. Capps’ attorney withdrew the objection to Crystal Hill’s motion concerning documentation, and filed additional documentation with the court.

In his lawsuit, Capps’ primary complaint is that the county acted hastily without expertise in the environmental impacts of solar farms, and failed to seek the expertise needed to make a well-reasoned decision. Further, Capps alleges that the county and Crystal Hill failed to take into account the full impact of a large-scale solar farm on adjacent landowners, especially as it relates to devaluing adjacent property.

The Board of Supervisors and Crystal Hill must now file an answer to Capps’ complaint in preparation for the next phase of the lawsuit which is discovery, a process where each side of a lawsuit is able to request documents and take live testimony of relevant witnesses.

Gamble heard the case in place of Halifax County Circuit Judge Kimberley S. White, who recused herself from the case. Capps is requesting a jury trial in Halifax County.



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