VF&N Litigation Attorney Randolph D. Frostick Wins Case for Effingham Manor Winery
This story was reported in full in VA Lawyers’ Weekly (login required).
The conversion of the 18th century historic estate, Effingham Manor, into a winery caused a stir among residential neighbors who claimed that the winery breached the community’s 2004 development covenants and filed suit. The opposition came as a surprise to the winery owner, Chris Pearmund, thinking the winery would be an ideal fit for the bucolic community. He came to Manassas trial attorney Randolph D. Frostick (Randy) of Vanderpool, Frostick, & Nishanian, P.C. for legal representation in the case. On May 26, 2017, Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Steven Smith ruled in favor of our client, allowing Effingham Manor Winery to open for business in Fall 2017.
“Not only did Randy have compelling evidence in this case, but he also argued his point with finesse and detail in line with the law, which is what VF&N’s attorneys are known for. We are proud of his hard work, skill, and dedication to his client, and are thrilled by the outcome” says VF&N managing partner Michael Vanderpool.
A main point of contention in the case was a 2005 amendment to the development’s covenants that removed the manor house from the residential restrictions. This amendment was upheld in court despite arguments that it was invalid because it was not filed with a certification required by the Virginia Property Owners Association Act. Circuit Judge Steven Smith ruled that the legislation’s use of “may” over “shall” in regard to the amendment allowed an alternative method if authorized by a declaration.
Three key pieces of evidence bolstered the decision:
- Zinone v. Lee’s Crossing Homeowners Ass’n held amendments following the terms of the declaration valid without regard for statutory procedure.
- The General Assembly amended the POAA legislation this year to exempt declarations from the POAA’s procedural requirements for amendments, effective July 1, 2017.
- The developer, Frank Smerbeck, testified that he had intended to keep the manor lot free of residential restrictions due to its historic value and commercial potential.
Homeowners also tried to block the winery’s road access, claiming that the increased traffic would overburden the easement. However, the judge backed the winery’s existing agreement to pay half of the road maintenance costs for the subdivision.
This case, along with the new legislative amendment, assures property owners’ associations and their lawyers that their declarative amendments are legally sound.
Randy Frostick has been providing civil trial and alternative dispute resolution solutions to clients throughout Virginia since 1983 in both state and federal courts and various arbitration and mediation panels. He represents a diverse range of clients, including businesses, municipalities, and individuals, in a wide range of cases. For over thirty years, Randy has provided his clients legal guidance to both avoid and resolve civil disputes without litigation, and when necessary, zealously advocated for their legal rights in court or arbitration. Learn more about Randy here.