CHARLES TOWN - Two land-owning companies in Jefferson County have filed a complaint against the county's Zoning Board of Appeals, saying it lacked the authority to deny their land use application.

Thornhill, LLC, and Highland Farm, LLC, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, injunction and writ of mandamus June 2 in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The complaint says on May 18 the two entered an application to develop 540 acres, which the Zoning Board unanimously voted to decline.

They claim it was denied because J. Michael Cassell, who had represented the Zoning Board during Land Evaluation Site Assessment proceedings, arguing successfully that LESA's calculations were correct against an appeal by Jefferson County citizens, was formerly employed by the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

He's now a member of Campbell, Miller and Zimmerman, the same firm representing Thornhill and Highland. James Campbell is the plaintiffs' attorney.

The plaintiffs seek a writ of mandamus ordering the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit for their application, a declaratory judgment declaring the Zoning Board lacks the authority to decline the application, a declaratory judgment saying no conflict of interest exists with the use of counsel from Campbell, Miller and Zimmerman and a writ of prohibition to any further litigation by the Zoning Board against them.

Judge Thomas Steptoe has been assigned the case.

Jefferson Circuit Court case number 06-C-195

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