Marks v. Wingfield

331 S.E. 2d 463 (1985)

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Marks v. Wingfield

Virginia Supreme Court
331 S.E. 2d 463 (1985)

Facts

Dudley Marks and Thurman Upchurch (collectively, Marks) (plaintiffs) owned lots in the 19-lot Riverside subdivision, which had a restrictive covenant prohibiting the erection of “house trailers or temporary dwellings of any kind” on the property and limiting the use of lots to single-family residences only. The subdivision was created in 1958, at which time the area was residential and recreational in character. The subdivision contained nine permanent homes. Marks sued Carlton Wingfield and others (collectively, Wingfield) (defendants) to enjoin them from placing campers on their lots in the subdivision in violation of the restrictive covenant. Wingfield denied that they had violated the covenants, arguing that the covenants were invalid and unenforceable because the character of the subdivision had changed from residential to recreational. Wingfield also argued that because the campers at issue were mobile in nature, this showed that they were not “erected” on subdivision lots, as the restriction was expressly worded in the covenant. A real estate appraiser opined that if campers or other temporary structures were placed near a single-family residence, the value of the residential property was adversely affected. The campers did not appear in the subdivision until the late 1970s; before that, all dwellings in the subdivision had been permanent structures that complied with the restrictions. The campers, which were suitable for use as temporary dwellings and had occasionally been slept in overnight by Wingfield, were mobile and had been driven or towed onto the lots. The subdivision was subjected to major flooding between 1969 and 1972. No permanent home sustained permanent damage, but the county adopted regulations that required that structures built in the future be placed on designated elevations. The trial court ruled for Wingfield on both grounds, and Marks appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stephenson, J.)

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