Judge upholds earlier finding in campground case

FRONT ROYAL – A campground owner’s challenge to a state agency’s valuation of her land remained intact Thursday after Circuit Judge Ronald L. Napier rejected a motion to reconsider an earlier ruling in favor of the campground owner.

Napier also accepted, with minor modifications, an order drafted by Charles M. Lollar of Norfolk, the attorney for campground owner Gloria P. Marcon. The order essentially confirms an earlier ruling by Napier that nullified a jury verdict giving Marcon less than the amount of money she was seeking from the Virginia Department of Transportation for the taking of part of her campground.

VDOT work crews are nearing completion of a bridge over U.S. 340 that runs through part of Marcon’s Gooney Creek Campground five miles south of Front Royal. Marcon argues that the bridge project has crippled her business with noise, unsightly construction equipment and supplies, loss of campsite privacy and reduced access to the campground from the highway.

Lollar and VDOT’s attorney, Mark A. Moorstein of Gainesville, sparred over whether Napier could legally weigh a motion for reconsideration if the judge had not asked for it. Moorstein also contended the agency acted in “good faith” in setting Marcon’s compensation for the land at $28,500.

Moorstein appeared in person at Thursday’s hearing. Lollar made his arguments over a courtroom speakerphone.

The jury awarded Marcon $55,500, much less than the $197,390 she thinks the land is worth. Napier’s decision in July does not overturn the jury verdict, but it opens the possibility of another trial or an out-of-court settlement by the two sides.

Lollar says the state acted in “bad faith” when its appraiser did not include about one-fifth of an acre in his valuation of the Marcon property, an argument that Moorstein disputed at Thursday’s hearing.

“Our contention is that the . . . area never belonged to Mrs. Marcon,” Moorstein said of the one-fifth of an acre.

Moorstein would not comment after the hearing on whether he intended to appeal the case to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com