Friday, Feb 12, 2016

Virginia Supreme Court Decision Provides Guidance on Conservation Easement Restrictions

Arlington, VA — In an opinion issued today, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the decision in Wetlands America Trust v. White Cloud Nine Ventures, LP, related to the construction and interpretation of conservation easements in Virginia. Attorneys Andrew Burcher and Michael Kalish of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, P.C., represented the defendant, White Cloud. This important decision is the first to offer guidance to owners of property subject to a conservation easement on how to construe restrictions on the use of their property.

Consistent with the position taken by Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh and its client, the Supreme Court ruled that conservation easements are subject to the same strict interpretation rules as restrictive covenants. The burden lies on those who seek to enforce them, who must show a clear violation of the easement, and any ambiguity is interpreted in favor of the free use of property.

Shareholders Andrew Burcher and Michael Kalish work primarily in the firm’s litigation and commercial business transactions practice. They have represented numerous businesses, non-profits, and individuals in a variety of complex commercial transaction cases, bankruptcies, and corporate matters in state and federal courts in Virginia. For more information about Wetlands v. White Cloud Nine, please contact Andrew Burcher or Mike Kalish at 703.680.4664.