A Woodbridge lawyer, a land developer and the superintendent of a private water company have been arrested by Stafford County authorities in a prolonged dispute over who has the right to supply water to a townhouse project in the Northern Virginia county.
Richard Nageotte, the attorney B. Calvin Burns, the developer, and George Pitts, superintendent of the Stafford Water Corporation, were charged with trespassing and tampering with the public water supply, according to Stafford County Administrator N. C. Sharp.
"I heard this lady yell 'Get him, he's a lawyer.' I looked up and saw this deputy sheriff charging me like a bull moose," said Nageotte in a telephone interview yesterday. "I couldn't believe it."
The arrests were the latest development in a long and often heated dispute over who has the right to supply water to the 67 homeowners of Staffordboro, a town house development in the northern portion of the county. On Monday Burns cut off water service to 66 of the 67 homes -- he owns the 67th unit -- after residents refused to pay him the $3,120 "tap" fee he demanded.
Burns claims the residents owe him that much because they have not had to pay for water for the last decade while he supplied them with county water through his own utility company. The county, he says, is trying to eliminate private utilities and wants his customers.
Water service to the homes was restored within hours after the county tapped into a nearby fire hydrant and replaced Burns' meters with its own. The arrests came after the private water company removed the county's meters, disrupting water service in the neighborhood.
The county claims Burns lacks the necessary state certification to service all the homes in the Staffordboro section and that servicing only a portion of the homeowners would be unfair.
"It's a hassle between him (Burns) and the county and we're just sort of caught in the middle," said Lois Sanchez, a member of the Staffordboro Homeowners' Association.
"They are making people out here feel like a bunch of sponges," she said. "We don't know who to pay."