Su­per­vi­sors re-elect Welch and Parrish as chair, vice chair

Board ta­bles sweep­ing zon­ing changes at first meet­ing of 2018

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - BY PATTY HARDEE

The first Rap­pa­han­nock County Board of Su­per­vi­sors meet­ing of 2018 in­cluded the re-elec­tion of its chair Roger Welch and vice chair Chris Parrish, the res­o­lu­tion — for now — of con­tro­ver­sial zon­ing or­di­nance changes, and ex­pressed op­ti­mism for the fu­ture.

In a 5-0 vote dur­ing the evening ses­sion of the meet­ing, the board tabled, in­def­i­nitely, sweep­ing zon­ing or­di­nance changes that have riled county gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­nity for months.

First pre­sented as a res­o­lu­tion at the Sept. 6 BOS meet­ing, the amend­ments, if adopted, would have com­bined the spe­cial use and spe­cial ex­cep­tion per­mit­ting process into one type of per­mit that would be con­sid­ered by the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and then the BOS. The

BZA, which now hears spe­cial use ap­pli­ca­tions af­ter they have been rec­om­mended by the plan­ners, would then only hear vari­ances and ap­peals

The amend­ments also in­cluded re­vi­sions that would down­size the acreage re­quire­ments for tourist homes and board­ing houses in Agri­cul­tural and Con­ser­va­tion zones, and elim­i­nate acreage re­quire­ments al­to­gether for B&Bs.

Sev­eral county res­i­dents spoke in op­po­si­tion to the amend­ments at both ses­sions of the meet­ing. Some im­plored the board to seek more in­put from the pub­lic, while others sup­ported the con­tin­ued role of the BZA. Still others cau­tioned against mov­ing too fast on zon­ing changes that could potentially al­ter the char­ac­ter of the county.

David Kon­ick, Stonewall-Jack­son dis­trict mem­ber of the BZA, posited that these pro­posed zon­ing changes had been cre­ated “at the be­hest of lob­by­ists for de­vel­op­ers and real es­tate moguls, peo­ple who want to make money by break­ing zon­ing or­di­nances.”

No one spoke in fa­vor of the pro­posal.

Stonewall-Hawthorne Su­per­vi­sor Chris Parrish asked County At­tor­ney Art Goff to weigh in on the is­sue. Goff, who helped for­mer county Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor David Dameron fash­ion the amend­ments, gave sev­eral rea­sons in fa­vor of the zon­ing changes. One im­por­tant rea­son, he said, is around the is­sue of ac­count­abil­ity.

“The BZA [mem­bers are] ap­pointed by the court,” said Goff, “and are not ac­count­able ex­cept through ap­peal of their de­ci­sion, whereas [the BOS] is di­rectly ac­count­able to the peo­ple who elect them.”

He asked the BOS to take its time and not decide the is­sue at the present meet­ing, and he of­fered to draft an opin­ion let­ter to present to the board at a later date.

Dur­ing the su­per­vi­sors’ dis­cus­sion, Su­per­vi­sor John Lesin­ski, a real es­tate bro­ker, seem­ingly ad­dress­ing Kon­ick, said he felt he may be un­der per­sonal at­tack as the spon­sor of the amend­ments. (Lesin­ski is also the sub­ject of law­suits brought against him by clients of Kon­ick.)

Lesin­ski took is­sue with the argument that the BZA could make apo­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions, say­ing, “To in­sin­u­ate that the BZA is above pol­i­tics is laugh­able.”

Later Lesin­ski said he sup­ports the idea of a more com­pre­hen­sive study of the changes, rather than “cherry pick­ing the is­sues.”


Un­cer­tainty among county res­i­dents about how the BOS would vote on the zon­ing amend­ments was tem­pered by a sense of hope for pos­i­tive change, due to the pres­ence of two new county of­fi­cials — newly elected Pied­mont su­per­vi­sor Chris­tine Smith and incoming per­ma­nent County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr.

Al­though in­terim county Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brenda Gar­ton ran Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, Curry as­sumed his du­ties on January 1.

Gar­ton has filled in since July of 2017 when for­mer Ad­min­is­tra­tor Deb­bie Keyser re­signed. Gar­ton will stay on un­til the end of January to pro­vide con­ti­nu­ity and to help ori­ent Curry as he set­tles in.

Dur­ing the pub­lic com­ment pe­riod, sev­eral res­i­dents com­mended Gar­ton for her work and for bring­ing or­der to the county. And they wel­comed Curry. For­mer Pied­mont Su­per­vi­sor Mike Biniek and re­tir­ing School Board mem­ber Aline John­son were also for­mally hon­ored for their years of ser­vice.

In an­other 5-0 vote, the BOS re­pealed lan­guage in the county code, specif­i­cally Ar­ti­cle II of Chap­ter 95-Emer­gency Re­sponse, that in­ter­fered with state and fed­eral reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­cated fire and res­cue cost re­cov­ery.

Rap­pa­han­nock County School Su­per­in­ten­dent Shan­non Grim­s­ley re­ported that the first se­mes­ter SOL (pub­lic schools’ Stan­dards of Learn­ing test­ing) scores were “phe­nom­e­nal.” She also said that in look­ing for ways to be more en­ergy ef­fi­cient, the school dis­trict is look­ing into the fea­si­bil­ity of in­stalling so­lar power units.

A res­o­lu­tion to au­tho­rize Goff to hire a deputy county at­tor­ney was met with re­sis­tance, even though the BOS voted at its De­cem­ber 4 meet­ing to ap­prove it. Af­ter that meet­ing, for­mer Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Peter Luke was hired. Goff re­ported that Luke had al­ready billed some hours.

Jack­son Su­per­vi­sor Ron Fra­zier ob­jected to Luke’s hav­ing been be­ing hired so quickly. Sev­eral board mem­bers felt the res­o­lu­tion and the hir­ing had been han­dled prop­erly and that Luke de­served to be paid for the time he had put in since then.

Fi­nally the su­per­vi­sors voted on a mo­tion to “rat­ify the action con­cern­ing Mr. Luke” es­sen­tially agree­ing to the hir­ing. Lesin­ski, Parrish and Chair Roger Welch voted in fa­vor; Fra­zier and Smith ab­stained. Smith ex­plained it was be­cause she had not yet been on the board at the De­cem­ber meet­ing.

Based on her time work­ing with the var­i­ous boards in Rap­pa­han­nock, Gar­ton pre­sented sev­eral sug­ges­tions for the BOS to con­sider. Among them were pro­posed re­vi­sions to the Rap­pa­han­nock Code Chap­ter 30 that gov­erns the way meet­ings are ad­ver­tised and con­ducted.

She also pro­posed a new pol­icy for pre­par­ing meet­ing agen­das for the BOS and other county or­ga­ni­za­tions. The new pol­icy would al­low time for the ad­min­is­tra­tor to re­ceive agenda ma­te­ri­als in time to pub­lish agen­das be­fore meet­ings. She de­vel­oped a sam­ple draft sched­ule show­ing meet­ing dates and dead­lines for re­ceipt of ma­te­ri­als.

Gar­ton also pro­posed a bud­get meet­ing sched­ule for the de­vel­op­ment and adop­tion of the fis­cal year 2018-19 county bud­get. She pre­sented a color-coded spread­sheet show­ing meet­ing dates for var­i­ous county or­ga­ni­za­tions and dates when ac­tions, such as ad­ver­tis­ing to the pub­lic, were re­quired.

Sev­eral county res­i­dents spoke in op­po­si­tion to the amend­ments at both ses­sions of the meet­ing. Some im­plored the board to seek more in­put from the pub­lic, while others sup­ported the con­tin­ued role of the BZA. Still others cau­tioned against mov­ing too fast on zon­ing changes that could potentially al­ter the char­ac­ter of the county.


The BOS re-elected Roger Welch as chair and Chris Parrish as the vice chair.

The board also made the fol­low­ing ap­point­ments to rep­re­sent county and re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tions:

➤ Plan­ning Com­mis­sion: Chris Parrish

➤ Rap­pa­han­nock-Rap­i­dan Re­gional Com­mis­sion: Roger Welch

➤ Rap­pa­han­nock River Basin Com­mis­sion (rep and al­ter­nate): Chris Parrish and John Lesin­ski

➤ Pub­lic Safety and Lo­cal Emer­gency Plan­ning Com­mit­tee: Chris Parrish and Ron Fra­zier

➤ Fire Levy Board: Ron Fra­zier

➤ Agri­cul­ture and For­est: Ron Fra­zier

➤ Board Clerk: Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr., County Ad­min­is­tra­tor

➤ Deputy Clerk: Krys­tal A. Por­ras

➤ Di­rec­tor of Emer­gency Man­age­ment: Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr.

➤ Blue Ridge Com­mit­tee for Shenan­doah Park Re­la­tions: Roger Welch, Chris­tine Smith, Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr., and Theresa Wood

➤ Chil­dren’s Ser­vices Act Com­mu­nity Pol­icy and Man­age­ment Team: Gar­rey W. Curry, Jr.

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