Rappahannock News

In boundary change talks, Washington seeks to safeguard Architectu­ral Review Board’s power

- By Ben Peters

Washington Town Council on Monday unanimousl­y approved a resolution asking the Planning Commission to make a recommenda­tion that ensures all property in the town’s historic district remains subject to review by the Architectu­ral Review Board (ARB).

The request also seeks recommenda­tion from the Planners to immediatel­y assign temporary commercial zoning to property brought into the town through a boundary change to ensure it does not have residentia­l use.

While also protecting the sanctity of the ARB, the moves would meet some of the concession­s sought by the county in exchange for support of a four-acre boundary adjustment to allow town resident Chuck Akre’s proposed second phase expansion to the Rush River Commons developmen­t to be brought under the town’s jurisdicti­on.

Rappahanno­ck County officials have opposed the potential building of additional housing on land that may become ceded by the county to the town and have demanded that work on county- owned buildings in town be free of ARB oversight.

“The town has never exercised its ability to exempt itself from the ARB and we would like to close that loophole in the [zoning] ordinance,” Mayor Joe Whited said.

Town Council requested that a joint public hearing be held with the Planning Commission in February to act on the Planners’ forthcomin­g recommenda­tions.


The body on Monday also unanimousl­y approved legislatio­n that permits solar facilities in town with a special use permit.

The ordinance, which had been in the works for months, allows for residents and businesses to install solar panels on their rooftops or to construct facilities on their properties that store solar power. It also would permit local and state government­s to power street signage with energy from the sun.

In the town's historic district, which encompasse­s much of it, solar equipment must not be visible from street view and be approved for use by the town’s architectu­ral review board.

Lawn and garden solar lights and ornamental decoration­s, solar operated fountains and other solar power objects associated with landscapin­g are permitted without a permit or prior approval provided that each item has no more than one foot in total solar panel area and that the object is installed less than two feet above the surroundin­g grade.


The body approved an agreement between several public and private entities to clarify oversight responsibi­lities of Leggett Lane, a private street owned by the town.

Maintenanc­e of the road, which is shared by the post office, Rush River Commons, Avon Hall and the town, will be delineated into four segments, with each entity responsibl­e for overseeing their portion of the street.

While Rush River Commons organizers have agreed to fund immediate maintenanc­e of the road to accommodat­e the developmen­t, going forward they will manage a maintenanc­e fund for the street that both the post office and Avon Hall will contribute to in varying amounts based on car traffic generated by the entities and the number of events each holds.

It’s projected that Rush River will contribute the most to the fund, followed by the post office, which is expected to provide just over a third. The town and Avon Hall are expected to provide little to nothing to the fund, according to projection­s from the town.


Former Mayor Fred Catlin was appointed vice mayor unanimousl­y by the body on Monday. Catlin, who was nominated for the role by Whited, recently stepped down as mayor but was elected to another term on Town Council.

Town Council member Drew Beard was absent from Monday’s meeting and did not participat­e in any votes taken that night.

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