Court documents show subdivision plans for Foxfield property

Recent filings reveal eight development proposals

nsfoxfieldrdizon

The Foxfield races are a popular attraction for students each spring. The lawsuit seeks to ensure the continuity of the races on the property. 

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Lawyers representing Albemarle residents suing Foxfield Racing Association and its president Thomas Dick have discovered in subpoenaed documents subdivision proposals and a former listing contract for the property. The documents were included in a filing the plaintiffs submitted to Albemarle County Circuit on May 23.

The Foxfield Racing Association holds approximately 179 acres of land in Albemarle County, the location of the Foxfield Races. The plaintiffs are neighbors and Albemarle residents who claim themselves beneficiaries of an alleged trust that bestowed the property to the association for the purpose of maintaining the Foxfield horse races in perpetuity. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the sale or future sale of the land on this basis of the will of the late Mariann S. de Tejeda, who died in 1983 and who the plaintiffs claim created a trust for the property in her will.

The defendants argue they are a nonstock corporation that should not be considered a trust and that the plaintiffs have no standing to intervene in corporate affairs.

The case is currently in discovery, a pretrial process where both plaintiffs and defendants unearth relevant information for the trial. However, the defendants recently filed a motion to stay — or stop — discovery based on a demurrer and motions to dismiss the case. The court will hear arguments on this motion on June 2.

Stephen Piepgrass, who is representing the plaintiffs and is with the law firm Troutman Sanders, said a demurrer essentially argues that even if all the facts and inferences of a case are true, the plaintiffs still have no claim. A motion to dismiss is a pleading to dismiss the case.

The plaintiffs incorporated the subpoenaed documents from discovery that show the listing and subdivision proposals in their memorandum in opposition to the defendants’ motion to stay discovery.

“In the course of filing arguments regarding those motions, we called attention to the court some facts … having to do with listing of the property for sale earlier and subdivision plans to divide it up into parcels,” William Hurd, who is also with Troutman Sanders, said in an interview.

The documents show a listing contract for the 179 acres of land from November 2014 to November 2016 asking $17 million for the property. The contract originated under the late Benjamin Dick’s tenure as president of the association. Benjamin Dick, who was Thomas Dick’s brother, died in 2015.

The documents also reveal eight development proposals for the land, offering a range of options including plans for large property estates or parceling the land into 17 lots. The subdivision proposals are dated January 2017.

Hurd said they called the court’s attention to the listing and proposals in their memorandum for the upcoming hearing because the defendants included an affidavit — or notarized statement — from Dick on Jan. 16 with their demurrer that states the “Foxfield Racing Association does not, at this time, have the approximately 179 acres of land located on Garth Road in Albemarle County, which is known as Foxfield, listed for sale with any real estate broker, nor is any sale of this property eminent.”

Piepgrass said the point of directing the court’s attention to the proposals and former listing is to oppose the defendant's motion to stay discovery, arguing the demurrer and affidavit are improper. Instead, the plaintiffs want to continue discovery.

“The defendants attached to their demurrer an affidavit attempting to put new facts into evidence, so in our memorandum, we have said that's improper, but we’ve also said we should be allowed to take discovery, especially since this shows facts that are in dispute,” Piepgrass said.

Some of the larger questions in this case are whether Tejeda’s will established a trust and if the plaintiffs will be ruled beneficiaries as they claim. If Foxfield were developed, then it is possible the racetrack would be eliminated and the annual races would no longer be held.

James Summers, the defendants’ attorney, did not return a request for comment.

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