BZA ‘bick­er­ing’ draws pub­lic’s ire

Fam­ily apts, tourist home ap­proved; Kon­ick, Matthews set­tle suit

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By Patty Hardee Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

When, more than two hours into last Wed­nes­day’s ar­guably tire­some Rap­pa­han­nock County Board of Zon­ing Ap­peals meet­ing, Rap­pa­han­nock res­i­dent Page Glen­nie scolded two board mem­bers to “stop bick­er­ing,” other mem­bers of the pub­lic in at­ten­dance burst into ap­plause.

Un­for­tu­nately, Glen­nie’s ap­peal was not heeded. For much of the al­most three-hour meet­ing, BZA mem­ber David Kon­ick and Chair Alex Sharp en­gaged in the time­honored games of “You’re wrong; no you are” and “Don’t in­ter­rupt me; I didn’t in­ter­rupt you.”

It didn’t help that much of the time they were ar­gu­ing over ob­tusely writ­ten state and lo­cal reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion of prop­erty own­ers in spe­cial use and spe­cial ex­cep­tion per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions, and that Kon­ick seemed to want to use the meet­ing to air var­i­ous griev­ances.

The meet­ing be­gan pleas­antly enough with the an­nounce­ment that Kon­ick and Vice Chair Jen­nifer Matthews had agreed to a set­tle­ment of a dis­agree­ment last Septem­ber that re­sulted in Kon­ick su­ing the BZA and the BZA cen­sur­ing Kon­ick in re­turn.

The set­tle­ment, an­nounced af­ter a closed ses­sion, re­leases both Kon­ick and Matthews from any claims and seeks the Vir­ginia state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s opin­ion on a mat­ter of ad­ja­cent landowner rights in an ap­peal of a BZA de­ci­sion.

In a phone call Tues­day, Sharp called the set­tle­ment “a prac­ti­cal move.”

CON­TENTIOUS AP­PLI­CA­TION

Berkley von Feil­itzsch ap­peared be­fore the board to dis­cuss her ap­pli­ca­tion for a spe­cial use per­mit to use her home in Amissville as a tourist home. The ap­pli­ca­tion came be­fore the Rap­pa­han­nock County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion in May, but was tabled be­cause it ap­peared that some of the ad­ja­cent prop­erty own­ers had not been no­ti­fied of the ap­pli­ca­tion and sub­se­quent pub­lic hear­ing, as re­quired by law.

Be­fore von Feil­itzsch could speak, Kon­ick called a “point of or­der. This ap­pli­ca­tion can’t be heard tonight be­cause it was not prop­erly no­ticed…. I re­spect­fully sug­gest we con­tinue the pub­lic hear­ing till next month and the plan­ning com­mis­sion can give proper no­tice.”

At is­sue this time, Kon­ick ex­plained, was a let­ter from Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor Dave Dameron no­ti­fy­ing the Culpeper County Ad­min­is­tra­tor of von Feil­itzsch’s ap­pli­ca­tion, as part of her prop­erty is in Culpeper County.

Kon­ick ex­plained that Dameron’s let­ter in­cor­rectly stated that the pub­lic hear­ing would be be­fore the BZA rather than the plan­ning com­mis­sion.

“I think you’re wrong,” said Sharp, set­ting off sev­eral min­utes of dis­agree­ment be­tween the two about the mean­ing of state code sec­tion 15.2-2204, the afore­men­tioned ob­tusely writ­ten reg­u­la­tion.

Even­tu­ally Chris Bird, the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the BZA, in­ter­vened. “Ab­sent no­tice from any ag­grieved per­son, we should move on with the hear­ing,” he said. The board voted four to one to ap­prove the mo­tion, Kon­ick’s be­ing the only dis­sent­ing vote.

(In an email Tues­day, Kon­ick pro­vided the BZA rule that states, in part, “In all cases in which le­gal no­tice of a pub­lic hear­ing is re­quired, writ­ten no­tice shall be given to … all own­ers of land ad­ja­cent to the sub­ject land as shown on Tax Maps of Rap­pa­han­nock County.”)

Twelve min­utes af­ter she had been sworn in, von Feil­itzsch was fi­nally able to speak. She told the board that she and her hus­band had raised their three chil­dren on the over 200-acre farm.

“Our work calls us away [to North Carolina],” she said, “but we want to keep the farm. We tried to come up with a plan … so that the prop­erty could stay a farm and cre­ate in­come.”

She agreed to abide by con­di­tions dis­cussed at the May plan­ners meet­ing, but the notes of that meet­ing were too sketchy to pro­vide guid­ance.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion just re­ferred to the con­di­tions, but did not enu­mer­ate them,” said Sharp in the Tues­day phone call.

Karen Hunt, a neigh­bor of von Feil­itzcsh, said she had taken good notes at the com­mis­sion meet­ing. She and her notes helped the BZA re­con­struct the con­di­tions. Sharp and Kon­ick, in a rare mo­ment of agree­ment, worked to­gether to craft the res­o­lu­tion, which in­cluded no ATVs, fire­works, or other ex­ces­sive noise; down­ward shielded light­ing; and easy con­tact with man­agers or neigh­bors, in case of emer­gency.

Hunt and an­other neigh­bor, Bob Klaus, spoke in fa­vor of the ap­pli­ca­tion. Chris Par­rish, the Stonewall-Hawthorne dis­trict su­per­vi­sor ex­pressed sup­port on be­half of one of von Feil­itzsch’s neigh­bors who could not at­tend the meet­ing.

Ge­orge Son­nett, who lives on Har­ris Hol­low Road, spoke about the tourist homes, in gen­eral.

“The stan­dards for tourist homes are non-ex­is­tent,” he said. “A tourist home im­plies that it was some­one’s home be­fore it was a tourist home, but the ap­pli­cant doesn’t even have to live there.”

An hour later, the BZA voted unan­i­mously to ap­prove the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The set­tle­ment, an­nounced af­ter a closed ses­sion, re­leases both Kon­ick and Matthews from any claims and seeks the Vir­ginia state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s opin­ion on a mat­ter of ad­ja­cent landowner rights in an ap­peal of a BZA de­ci­sion.

APART­MENTS AP­PROVED

Two spe­cial use ap­pli­ca­tions for fam­ily apart­ments were ap­proved unan­i­mously af­ter brief dis­cus­sion.

Abree Sil­ver, Andy Sil­ver, and Rigel Whyt­sell re­quested the per­mit for their house in Amissville to “fin­ish our base­ment into a liv­able space for our ail­ing mother,” ac­cord­ing to the ap­pli­ca­tion.

And David and Bir­gitte Thorn­hill ap­plied for a spe­cial use per­mit for a fam­ily apart­ment on their prop­erty in Bos­ton. They told the board that they in­tend to ren­o­vate the top floor of a barn into a res­i­dence for their son and daugh­ter-in-law.

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