Neighbors file appeal after court rules in favor of SWVA Wildlife Center

Maver, Creasy, Jane and Stan Seymour file appeal of judge’s ruling

ROANOKE, Va. – After the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center and the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors won favor of the court in a second lawsuit brought by neighboring property owners, a motion to reconsider has been filed.

The appeal was made a little more than a week after a circuit court judge ruled in favor of the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center and Roanoke County Board of Supervisors in the lawsuit related to a special use permit to build an aviary to rehabilitate large birds. Neighbors Blain Creasy, Adrian Maver and Stan and Jane Seymour made the appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Both couples’ properties adjoin with property owned by the center.

To date, the aviary has not been built due to ongoing lawsuits. The center says the aviary is necessary in order to rehabilitate large birds of prey such as bald eagles. Without it, the birds are taken two hours away to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro. Center Executive Director Sabrina Garvin said the transport causes unnecessary stress on the animal and expense to the center.

Attorneys for the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center said an appeal was expected. When the case win was originally announced via Facebook by Gilbert Law, PC, they said “Although the pending case could be appealed, the Supreme Court of Virginia held on November 2, 2020 that the neighbors failed to prove standing in the first case and refused to hear the appeal.”

In total, neighbors have filed three lawsuits against the SWVA Wildlife Center. Litigation has been ongoing since 2018.

In the current lawsuit, the neighbors said that the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors made an error in issuing the permit to build the aviary because of an alleged violation of the Roanoke County Zoning Ordinance, not giving sufficient notice of a public hearing and also making “arbitrary and capricious” actions in granting the permit among other claims.

In response, the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center has filed a countersuit against Creasy, Maver and the Seymours alleging conspiracy to injure the nonprofit in reputation, trade, business, and profession.

In a news release Monday, the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center stated, “These lawsuits continue to financially drain us; not to mention all the money that they’ve cost the taxpayers of Roanoke County too!”

The legal battles between the parties have widely sparked community conversation. In addition to chatter on social media, a battle of words can be seen on signage posted along Coleman Road in Roanoke County, along with ‘no trespassing’ signs, newly installed fences and multiple speed bumps leading up to the driveway of the center.

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