County agrees to settle in civil lawsuit

 

It’s been a full year since the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors considered a request by the Islamic Center of Culpeper for a pump and haul permit on a parcel of land, about an acre, located on Route 229 at 14434 Rixeyville Road.

It was at their April board meeting in 2016 that the board denied the request by a 4-3 vote. Those opposed were Stevensburg representative Bill Chase, Chairman Jack Frazier, East Fairfax representative Steve Walker and West Fairfax representative Gary Deal. Those in favor were Catalpa representative Sue Hansohn, Salem district representative Alexa Fritz and Jefferson District representative Brad Rosenberger.

“If there is a situation where there is no other alternative, I see that, but in this case there is not a hardship…they’re buying this property at a cheap price and stand to enhance their situation by doing this. They can walk away from this property and look to another [that doesn’t have these issues].”

“I cannot support, it’s not about who but about what,” said Frazier last year.

Flash forward and the board’s decision last year escalated into a civil lawsuit based on religious discrimination.

Looking back the board had approved the majority of pump and haul requests that had come before them.

After their denial last year, the county revisited their policy on pump and haul requests.

On Tuesday evening, the board held a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed FY18 budget and proposed tax rate.

The county administration building meeting room had many rows filled. But only two spoke and both were complimentary about the board’s work with the budget.

The majority were there to learn of the board’s decision following a later closed session in which the settlement agreement would be discussed.

Once again the vote was 4-3 to agree to settle in the long standing case.

As they were last year, Chase, Frazier and Walker were opposed

As they were last year, Hansohn, Fritz and Rosenberger were in favor.

Gary Deal reversed his position from last year and voted to approve.

At the time the request was made last year, the applicant was in negotiations to purchase the property. Since then, that did happen with a purchase price around $15,000.

With the county’s agreement to settle, the applicant will not need to resubmit any additional information.

As stated in the settlement agreement, “The County and the ICC (Islamic Center of Culpeper) are glad to resolve this matter expeditiously and without further litigation. The Board of Supervisors welcomes the ICC to Culpeper County as it does all other religious organizations. This matter is resolved in the spirit of compromise and good will without being tried. The County makes no admission of wrongdoing and believes that, if the case had been tried, the County would have been absolved of any wrongdoing. The ICC believes that, if the case had been tried, the ICC would have prevailed. The County will issue a pump and haul permit to the ICC until such time as water and sewer becomes available to the property.”

In the settlement agreement, the County agrees to compensate the ICC for the ICC’s direct, out-of-pocket expenses arising from the denial. The ICC and the County agree that this amount totals $10,000. According to the agreement, once signed by all parties, the County has 14 business days to pay this amount.

With the county’s agreement to settle, the parties will jointly move the Court for an order that dismisses the Civil Action with prejudice.

One bystander commented that if the county had decided to take the case to trial it would have cost the county considerably more.

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