Jury Decides In RACC's Favor

Ed Smith

A 1989 contractual agreement that established the House Mountain management committee remains in effect, a jury decided Thursday evening in Rockbridge Circuit Court at the conclusion of a two-day trial.

The jury ruled that the Virginia Outdoors Foundation breached the contract when it attempted to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement with the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council four years ago. VOF notified RACC in November of 2013 that it was terminating the 1989 agreement between the two entities over the management of House Mountain.

The two partners entered into the agreement to manage the 700-acre House Mountain Preserve 28 years ago following a successful fundraising campaign to buy the mountain and preserve it in its natural state. Both parties say the agreement worked well for 23 years, until a dispute arose in 2012 over management policies and practices. The two sides reached an impasse in 2013, prompting VOF, which held title to the property, to notify RACC that it was termining the agreement.

In 2015, VOF announced that it was establishing an advisory committee that would offer recommendations on managing the property but that VOF would hold final authority over management. Contending that the 1989 agreement was still in effect – that it couldn't be unilaterally terminated – RACC filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce the terms of the agreement.

The jury's verdict means that the terms of the 28-year-old agreement do indeed remain in effect. For more details about the two-day trial and the ramifications of the outcome, see Wednesday's print edition of The News-Gazette.




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