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River Heights Association Limited Partnership v. Batten

Supreme Court of Virginia
591 S.E.2d 683 (2004)


Facts

Alice Batten (plaintiff) owned property in a subdivision along Route 29. The subdivision had four unimproved lots that were owned by Wendell Wood and his wife Marlene Wood (defendants). When the subdivision was created, the lots were under a restrictive covenant that prevented the lots from being used for commercial purposes. At the time the subdivision and the covenant were created, Route 29 was a two-lane road, and the area around the subdivision was comprised of residences and small businesses. At the time of trial, however, the area had become a highly developed commercial district, and Route 29 had been expanded to 10 lanes. There had been no change within the subdivision itself though. Wendell Wood sought to develop his lots into commercial properties. Wood argued that, due to the change in conditions around the subdivision, the doctrine of changed conditions applied, nullifying the restrictive-use covenant that prohibited commercial development. Batten sued, seeking enforcement of the covenant. The trial court ruled in favor of Batten. Wood appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Carrico, C.J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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