A developer planning to build a tourist-friendly RV resort in Virgin, Utah, has sued a group of residents who opposed the project, claiming the residents made defamatory and false statements that have stalled work and lessened the value of the property, the Spectrum reported.

Cedar City-based company Zion Sunset Resort is seeking more than $50,000 in damages in its  lawsuit against three Virgin residents as well 20 unnamed John or Jane “Does” who it says have associated together as a “Friends of Virgin” organization.

Zion Sunset Resort obtained about 80 acres of property along state Route 9 last year after spending about a year investigating the business’s prospects and town officials’ degree of willingness to approve the project that would be accessible to Zion National Park visitors.

According to the complaint, residents Mark Savee, Adele Pincock, Linda Collet and the “Does” had already begun “publishing false and misleading statements” about the application process, the resort and its effects on the surrounding community, and continued to do so after the council’s vote.

“While we followed all the rules in rezoning our land and believe a new RV resort will compliment Virgin’s rich heritage and boost its economy, these anti-development radicals will say anything to suppress individual rights and advance a hidden agenda,” resort manager Kason Smith said via a written statement delivered to The Spectrum & Daily News.

“Every time we refuted a defamatory statement, these radicals concocted another thin-air reason why the resort should not go forward,” he added.

The three named defendants sponsored a petition “respectfully ordering” the council to call a vote of Virgin residents on reinstating the residential zoning at the site in November. They were accompanied by Virgin residents Lyman Everett and William Swensen, who are not named in the lawsuit.

Savee, Pincock and Collet issued a joint statement by email Thursday in which they expressed their determination to have the issue subjected to a vote by the town’s residents in spite of the lawsuit.

“We believe this action has been brought to chill our participation in a referendum that challenges a local rezone decision,” their email states. “Regardless, our efforts remain focused on moving the referendum forward.”

The town called a special election on June 23.

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