Peeples 3 9164
Bryan Peeples, Waterfront Law Team

Riparian Property Rights Attorney Wins Pier Case in Matthews County Circuit Court Appeal

The Waterfront Law Team of Pender & Coward recently represented a client in Gloucester, located in Matthews County, Virginia. Our client initially hired our firm to assist in acquiring a permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to construct a pier with an attached covered boathouse and gazebo. Our client’s neighbors were opposed to the project, claiming (without evidence) that the structure would interfere with their riparian rights and/or adversely affect the environment.  The pier alone did not require a permit because it met certain size characteristics, but because the neighbors were objecting to the boathouse and gazebo, those structures required a permit from the VMRC.

The case went to the hearing before the VMRC.  Bryan represented our client and argued in favor of approval. Several neighbors spoke in strong opposition. The VMRC voted to approve the application and issued the permit.  The neighbors appealed the VMRC’s decision to the Matthews County Circuit Court.

On appeal, the Office of the Attorney General represented the VMRC and Bryan represented the client wishing to build the pier. The objectors argued to the Court that the VMRC was wrong to consider the pier and the covered structures separately but should have considered them as a single structure.   They also argued that the VMRC failed to consider certain criteria such as the effect on submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and wetlands.  Bryan and the Assistant Attorney General representing the VMRC presented a unified front, explaining that the VMRC had followed the correct procedures and had considered all applicable criteria in issuing the permit.   

The Circuit Court Judge deliberated for several weeks, then issued a written letter Opinion upholding the VMRC’s decision in favor of the permit.  Thanks to the Waterfront law team, our client will be able to enjoy his pier, boathouse and gazebo this summer!

The attorneys on our Waterfront Property Law Team have strong connections and significant legal experience. Contact our team if you need advice and assistance in connection with all your riparian property needs.


About The Author

Bryan head shot

Bryan protects waterfront (riparian) property rights. His focus is Virginia aquaculture and maritime law, including the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act; the Virginia Primary Sand Dune and Beaches Act; and the Virginia Tidal Wetlands Act. Contact Bryan at (757) 490-6283 or