Business groups try to overturn ruling at heart of Suffolk warehouse challenge
- Category: Local News
- Published: 21 March 2023
Real estate, housing and business groups are backing a request by Wegmans for the Supreme Court of Virginia to reconsider a ruling that property owners near a massive distribution center under construction in Hanover have the right to challenge local approvals of the project in court.
“If not reconsidered,” the groups wrote in an amicus brief filed with the court March 13, the decision “will have disastrous consequences for all types of development in Virginia.”
The long-running case, Morgan v. Board of Supervisors of Hanover County, stems from the Hanover board’s 2020 decision to grant New York-based grocery chain Wegmans a special exception to build a 1.7 million square foot facility and approve revised conditions for the project to proceed.
The project garnered significant support from the state: Under former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, Virginia promised Wegmans $2.35 million as well as tax credits to locate the facility in Hanover. The company promised to invest $175 million in the project and said it would create 700 jobs.
But many neighbors were outraged by the plans, and the local board’s approval of them sparked several lawsuits, including one linked to environmental justice concerns over the siting of the facility next to the Brown Grove community founded by freedpeople after the Civil War. A second legal challenge by five adjacent landowners argued the board had violated multiple local ordinances and state laws in its May 2020 decision.
Hanover Circuit Court in 2020 and 2021 found the landowners — led by Roderick Morgan, whose property lies within 1,000 feet of the Wegmans facility — had no standing to challenge the board’s vote because they couldn’t demonstrate they would suffer a “particularized harm” from the project different from what the general public might experience.