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Friday, September 11, 2015

Judge approves temporary injunction on infill development in Malbrook



Malbrook residents argue this proposed easement along Brooks Place violates their community's covenants.

Residents of the Malbrook subdivision who are fighting an infill development are pleased with the outcome of a hearing on their case in Fairfax Circuit Court Sept. 9. Judge Randy Bellows moved the trial date from March 2016 to Nov. 2, 2015, and ordered the developer, Evergreene Homes, to halt all work on the disputed property until the court ruling. 

Malbrook resident Tony Crescenzo had filed suit to stop Evergreene from building eight single-family homes on a lot adjacent to Malbrook. The developers were counting on the granting of an easement for widening Brooks Place to allow access to the proposed development. The disputed property is between Malbrook, Lake Barcroft, and Sleepy Hollow Road.

Crescenzo and other Malbrook residents contend that such an easement violates the covenants established when the Malbrook community was built. Evergreene had already cut down all the trees on the property.

The hearing was on the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop Evergreene from any further work on the site until the legal issues are resolved. After the residents’ attorney, James Magner, gave an opening presentation at the hearing, Bellows said he was prepared to proceed with the trial at that point, but the defendants – Evergreene and Fairfax County – weren’t ready to go forward.

The judge approved the preliminary injunction and set the trial for Nov. 2. “We got everything we wanted,” Crescenzo said. About 10 Malbrook residents were at the court to support their case.

Malbrook – which only has about a dozen homes – had formed a partnership to represent their community in court. They are concerned that if the Evergreene project is allowed to go forward, there will be an attempt to put more houses on a larger, undeveloped property next to it.

“Our central argument is that the covenants go with the land,” Crescenzo said. “Everything else is noise.” 
The developers are expected to claim they will go bankrupt if they can’t develop the project because they have a $7 million loan they won’t be able to pay back.

The developer should have known about the covenants before starting the project and should have expected the community to object to an illegal easement. The homeowner who granted the easement, Gene Woo, is related to the people who sold their land to Evergreene for development. That property is not covered by the Malbrook covenants, but Gene Woos home is.

All the other Malbrook residents who are able to do so have contributed to the community’s legal costs to fight the Evergreene project. Other nearby residents who don’t live in the Malbrook subdivision have contributed, too.

Crescenzo says he moved to Malbrook a year ago from Loudoun County because it’s the only place he found with one-acre lots inside the beltway.

3 comments:

  1. If they haven't built anything yet, they haven't spent $7MM. Maybe it's a default but if they claim bankruptcy they might as well admit mismanagement. I suppose legally it doesn't matter what happens to them, you're not allowed concessions because your company is in trouble.

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  2. Yay, go guys!

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  3. Thanks for keeping us up to date, Ellie!

    I stand in solidarity with Malbrook residents against one more garden-variety piggish developer thinking they're entitled to turn a quick buck by degrading the community. Developers, property management firms, and HOAs are the unholy trinity which will inevitably make any neighborhood a bad place where they operate unchecked.

    From just a bit further down Columbia Pike, 2014's Stanton v KPA Et Al is a real hoot - interstate multi-million-dollar property management agency which couldn't be bothered to inform residents or even get a single permit before installing obnoxiously loud, non-code water filters for their ornamental pond. This from a company that PREDICTABLY charges $350+ a month in condo fees to pay the salary of a freeloading "manager" who WASN'T PROPERLY LICENSED and seemed to exist solely to empower the neighborhood's intolerable blue-haired clipboard dictators to stick warnings on doors about trash cans going out at 7:00PM and not 8:00PM and also to stick warnings to doors warning not to leave warnings stuck to the door (I wish I was making this up).

    These freaky cartoon boomers and Trump-types really can't die off fast enough.

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