For the second time this year, attorney Stan Braverman sat alone across the courtroom from a cluster of lawyers from the McGuire Woods law firm who represented the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County Service Authority, and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Braverman, who filed against all three municipalities said the city sold water facilities to the county when it accepted $765,000 from the Albemarle Service Authority last year. He argued that this transfer was a sale, due process of law was violated, and the whole process, with its vague language, was “absurd.”
Judge Cheryl V. Higgins consolidated the cases regarding the Ragged Mountain Dam, and deferred further hearings to today, Friday May 18. Attorneys and other concerned invested residents gathered in the courthouse to deliver final statements regarding both the constitutionality of the process and the bond validation.
After hearing statements from both sides, Judge Higgins ruled that the transfer of funds was a lease, not a sale, invalidating Braverman’s main claim.
The opposing parties also gave statements regarding the bond validation. Braverman said the bonds were being unnecessarily expedited, and that because the bonds will not be available until late summer, it is “premature to validate now.”
Judge Higgins approved the validation of the bond, with the addition of a line stating that no collateral except revenue, with the leases, will be offered.
Opponents to the dam were not surprised by the court’s ruling, but anticipate another move from Braverman.
“Everyone said we would lose on the local level,” said Bob Fenwick, who has been following the case closely. But he said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a different outcome at the state level.