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Sonoma County Landowners Fined More than $500,000 for Violating Conservation Easement

Peter and Toni Thompson were not parties to the 2009 conservation easement that restricted development on their wine country estate. As subsequent owners of the 81-acre property, however, they were bound by it. So ruled Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Patrick Broderick, who fined the Thompsons $586,000. Neighbors tipped off the Sonoma County Land Trust that heavy equipment was being used on the protected property. According to court documents, no permits were obtained for any of the work, including the removal of 3,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock. “It was really the most willful, egregious violation of a conservation easement I’ve ever seen,” Sonoma Land Trust Stewardship Director Bob Neale told The Press Democrat. In addition, the court found that the couple demonstrated a “persistent failure to tell the truth” as the case unfolded and “demonstrated an arrogance and complete disregard for the mandatory terms of the easement.”
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Photo Credit: Sonoma Land Trust


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