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For Immediate Release

Monday, March 12, 2001

Contact: Jo Thoburn

24 Days Behind Bars
Yellow Ribbons Tied On Trees To Show Support For Thoburn And His Driving Range

John Thoburn celebrated a small victory in court on Friday, March 9, 2001, when Judge Michael P. McWeeny ordered Fairfax County Zoning officials to come count the trees at the Golf Park at Hunter Mill and tag the ones which they now deem to be in the wrong location, so Mr. Thoburn can have the trees moved.

One of the Golf Park's beautiful greens.

Thoburn refused to close his business and still sits behind bars waiting for the Fairfax County bureaucracy to do their job.

"John refused to close his business while this was resolved because he thought Fairfax County would never let him open again," said Jo Thoburn, a spokesman for the family. "I think he was right. If they have let him sit 24 days in jail as they argue amongst themselves over the height of the berm and the location of trees, how long would they be taking if he’d closed the doors?"

Meanwhile to show support for John Thoburn and the Golf Park, friends and family tied yellow ribbons around trees at the driving range hoping to draw attention to Thoburn’s plight with Fairfax County and calling attention to the 700 trees which have already been planted and approved in prior inspections.

"I support John 100%. This driving range doesn’t cause any harm to anybody. This is the best-landscaped driving range I’ve been to. It’s wide open and park-like," said Evan Sturdivant, a regular golfer at the range. ":It’s ridiculous and scary that the county government has this much power."

On February 16, 2001, at the request of Fairfax County, Virginia, zoning officials, Fairfax County Judge Michael P. McWeeny threw Vienna, Virginia, resident John Thoburn in jail for not planting trees and not building a berm at the Golf Park at Hunter Mill.

A summer photo of the landscape at Golf Park

The court ordered Mr. Thoburn to close the Golf Park until the trees were planted and the berm was built (the berm has been completed since Spring 2000). When Mr. Thoburn refused to close, since he had actually done this work, he was cited with contempt of court and jailed and fined $1000 each day he is open.

Mr. Thoburn had already planted over 700 trees before he opened the Golf Park in 1994 and received approval from county inspectors. He was granted his occupancy permit based on meeting conditions imposed to open his business. Mr. Thoburn is still in full compliance of his original occupancy permit (non-RUP).

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