By

Sean Tubbs



Charlottesville Tomorrow

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stanton Braverman, an attorney who owns three properties in

Charlottesville

, has filed suit against the

Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority

and three other governmental bodies alleging that a new dam at the

Ragged Mountain Reservoir

was illegally approved.

“The project to develop

Ragged Mountain Reservoir

as currently designed will seriously affect the value of these properties and will also affect the cost and availability of fresh water to these properties,” reads the complaint that was filed in

Charlottesville


Circuit Court

on Friday.

The complaint alleges that the

City Council

acted illegally when it voted 3-2 on Jan. 17 to update the four-party agreement that formed the

RWSA

. The agreement established conditions under which the new dam and a new water transmission pipeline would be built.
“[City Council is] required by Section 28 of the City Charter to place the issue for a referendum and by Article VII section 9 of the Virginia State Constitution, which requires that it be approved by a supermajority of the City Council,” reads the complaint. “Neither condition has been met.”


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Braverman’s profile on the LinkedIn website states that he is an expert on immigration and naturalization law and that he has practiced with the firm Braverman and Lin since 1972. On the site, he states that his primary residence is near the

Shenandoah National Park

, but he also has a home in downtown Charlottesville.

Braverman was not present Friday at a news conference held by the group Charlottesville Open Government Alliance to announce the lawsuit.
“For citizens who are very upset at the water plan, this will be the final chapter in the water discussion,” said

Bob Fenwick

, an alliance member who ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 2009 and 2011.
The group contains many members who were also involved with the group

Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan

, which has opposed the plan for many years.
Joanna Salidis, who has been involved with both groups, said the alliance was formed to fight a much bigger struggle.
“We’re a group dedicated to fighting for open and honest local government,” Salidis said. “We want local government to make decisions in the public interest and not for special interests and we feel this scam is exhibit A for the kind of crony capitalism that is really pervading many recent local government decisions.”
Salidis said other examples include the

Meadow Creek Parkway

and the RWSA’s decision to build a new pump station near the

Moores Creek

Wastewater Treatment Facility.
The latter is part of a consent decree between the

RWSA

and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to stop sewage from flowing into

Moores Creek

and the

Rivanna

River.
The group is asking for donations to help pay for court costs related to the suit.
“We do anticipate this will be a vigorously defended suit on the part of the four defendants,” Fenwick said.
The suit also named

Charlottesville

,

Albemarle County

and the

Albemarle County Service Authority

. It claims all three and the

RWSA

deliberately conspired to confuse the public by making the terms of how water would be transferred “impossible to understand.”
“All of this has the affect (sic) of confusing the Plaintiff as well as some members of the City Council about the legality of the scheme and how it will operate and what effect it will have on property values and the future availability and cost of water,” reads the complaint.
The suit contains nine paragraphs under the heading “This project is absurd and should not go forward” with statements ranging from the city not needing additional water to the possibility that the RWSA may default on the bonds that will be issued to fund the project.
The RWSA board has already taken steps to try to prevent the lawsuit from derailing the issuance of up to $31 million in bonds to finance the project.
After an emergency meeting of the board Thursday, RWSA attorney

Kurt Krueger

filed a motion for judgment in

Albemarle County Circuit Court

requesting a validation of the authority’s right to issue bonds for capital projects.
“The Board became aware of litigation threatened against the Authority to block construction of the dam,” Krueger wrote in an email to members of the RWSA board.
Krueger said further delay would add additional cost to the project, which would be passed on to city and county ratepayers.
“A bond validation proceeding … provides for an expedited hearing before the Albemarle County Circuit Court to resolve any issues involving the project agreement and the permits and approvals necessary to construct the dam,” Krueger said.
Hearings have not yet been scheduled for either request.
The new dam is a centerpiece of the estimated $140 million water-supply plan intended to satisfy the water needs of Charlottesville, the urbanized sections of Albemarle County and the University of Virginia for the next 50 years.
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