County resident seeks to overturn Oakwood Villas decision

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By John Barnhart

A county resident has filed a lawsuit against Bedford County in an effort to overturn its decision to rezone land to clear the way for a condominium development called Oakwood Villas.

The board of supervisors voted, 4-3, to rezone 10 acres of land adjoining the city from R-1 (low density residential) to PRD (planned residential development. The land is part of a 27-acre tract, most of which lies within the city limits, on which developers want to build a condominium development aimed at retirees. Last year, Bedford City Council had voted, 5-2, to rezone the city portion of the tract to PRD. City Council made its vote contingent on the county rezoning its portion.

The lawsuit was filed in Bedford County Circuit Court by Peggy Vereen, who lives near the condo project. Vereen is being represented by Edward Natt and Daniel Barnes, lawyers from a Roanoke law firm.

The suit names the Bedford County Board of Supervisors, Oakwood Villas Townhomes, LLC and Thomas J. and June Cundiff. The Cundiff's are the owners of the tract where the condos are to be built. Most of the lawsuit's 10 counts allege that Bedford County violated its own zoning ordinance and asks the court to set aside the rezoning.

One of the counts alleges that Board Chairman Steve Arrington had an undisclosed business or financial relationship with Thomas Cundiff. Arrington was one of the four supervisors who voted for the rezoning.

According to the lawsuit, Thomas J. Cundiff is Jack Cundiff, who is identified as a member of Arrington's campaign advisory board in Arrington's campaign literature.

The suit states, "Upon belief, all members of Mr. Arrington's Advisory Board made financial contributions to his re-election campaign, including Mr. Cundiff."

It cites a section of the Code of Virginia defining a business or financial relationship is having received a gift or donation worth more than $100 "singularly or in the aggregate" during the 12-month period prior to the vote. It alleges that Arrington received more than $100 from Cundiff.

According to the county registrar's office, all candidates must report campaign donations of more than $100, either monetary or in kind. Arrington's campaign finance statements, on file with the registrar's office, indicate that he received no campaign donations during his run for re-election last year. Arrington ran unopposed for the District 5 seat.

Cundiff's name does not appear among donors to Arrington's 2004 election campaign. Statements for that year show 31 unitemized donations for a total of $1,960 and two unitemized in-kind donations for total value of $40.33.