Supreme Court of Va. rules Hanover residents can sue over Wegmans warehouse
The Supreme Court of Virginia overruled a lower court that decided homeowners whose property lies near a massive Wegmans distribution center under construction in Hanover County didn’t have legal standing to challenge local approvals of the project issued in 2020.
“Standing determines who may file a lawsuit — not who can win one,” Justice D. Arthur Kelsey wrote in the court’s Feb. 2 opinion. In this case, he found, “the homeowners assert a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the Board’s 2020 decision and specific, detailed harm to the homeowners.”
The ruling returns the lawsuit, which sought to nullify the county’s approvals, to the Hanover Circuit Court. But with the Wegmans warehouse already partially built, it’s unclear exactly how the case might impact the project.
Roderick Morgan, the lead plaintiff in the case and a Hanover resident who owns property within 1,000 feet of the site where the 1.7 million square foot facility is being built, said he was pleased but not surprised by the ruling.
“After listening to the questions that the Supreme Court asked of the county, I felt like this was the likely outcome, but I’m still gratified that they saw this our way,” he said.
In a statement, Hanover County Administrator John Budesky said while the county “disagree[s] with the court’s decision, the board respects the courts’ role in the process” and “remains confident that, as the courts continue their review of this matter, they will find that the board acted properly related to this case.”
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