Board OKs new tourist home, Sperryville setback

On March 28, in its first meeting of 2013, the Rappahannock County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approved a special-use permit for a tourist home and a variance request allowing a house to be constructed farther back from U.S. 211 in Sperryville.

In the board’s consideration of the special-use permit allowing Svetozar and Marlene Krasic to rent out their house as a tourist home, the Krasics admitted they had actually been renting their home as a tourist home since summer 2012, and were unaware they needed a permit to do so until County Administrator John McCarthy contacted them earlier in March.

McCarthy noted that the county checks online tourist home listings “about twice a year,” and if any Rappahannock addresses are found, double checks those addresses against the permit records to make sure they are all properly licensed.

“We’re just looking,” McCarthy said. “We’re not actively trying to find people.”

McCarthy also said that the request, approved by the planning commission last month, had not generated any objections from neighbors. He noted that the Krasics had been cooperative since being informed of the need for a county-issued permit.

The Krasics said they planned to rent the house out “mostly on weekends” from April to October. On Keyser Run Road in Washington, the property could fit up to six people, though the Krasics said their clientele was mostly couples and was carefully screened. The Krasics would also serve as managers while the house was being rented, and while they wouldn’t be on the property, they said they’d be about 45 minutes away at their property on Lake Anna.

“We’re not getting any riff-raff,” said Marlene Krasic.

Krasic, formerly a general manager at a hotel, said she believed another tourist home would be beneficial to the county. “People come and stay with us and then go out and spend money in the county.”

Krasic also said she provided guests with a list of all the area’s activities, including menus for the county’s restaurants, as well as a complete list of wineries.

“I think it’s a reasonable, proper use of the property,” said board member Christopher Bird, who made the initial motion to approve the permit. The board unanimously approved the request 4-0, with board member William Anderson absent.

The board then set about addressing the issue of a setback variance requested by Nanette Butler-Roberts allowing her to rebuild the house on her Sperryville property farther back on her property and further from U.S. 211.

“I always thought [the short distance to the road] was problematic,” Butler-Roberts said, “but the house was where it was.”

Butler-Roberts said that she recently discovered the foundation of the existing house was severely damaged – to the extent that refurbishing or demolishing the house would cost much the same.

After demolishing the old house in January, Butler-Roberts said she discovered a second well on the property, previously covered under brush and other debris. This, combined with her safety concerns, prompted her to submit the variance request.

Butler-Roberts said that she intended to keep the property as an “affordable rental property, as my father, Howard Butler, did in the mid-1970s.” According to architectural drawings submitted with the variance request, the new house would be slightly larger than the old one (by one bedroom and two bathrooms), but would be a single story.

William and Brenda Smoot, Butler-Roberts’ neighbors, said they had no problem with placing a larger house on the property but objected to placing it farther back from the road.

“It’s basically sticking a house in our backyard,” William Smoot said, noting that the couple had a kennel for their coon dogs in the backyard. The dogs, Smoot said, would most likely be disturbed if the house were moved back, especially by the constant construction and new renters moving in.

Because the Butler-Roberts’ plot narrows as it goes back, the Smoots also said that the proposed new house would be located right outside their bedroom window.

Bird suggested that the proposed dimensions be kept, but that the house be rotated perpendicularly, allowing the setback distance from the road and placing the house farther away from both sets of neighbors.

Butler-Roberts said setting the house perpendicularly would “juxtapose it with all the other houses [in Sperryville],” and that the location of the well limited where the new house could be placed.

Board member Alexander Sharp proposed a compromise: allowing the setback, but centering the house on the property, providing 15 to 17 feet between houses.

“It’s close living, so everybody has to get along,” Bird said in support of Sharp’s compromise. “This would be a good start to that.”

Sharp’s compromise was accepted and approved by the board unanimously, 4-0.

As a procedural matter, the board also formally elected its officers, renaming Sharp as its representative to the planning commission, Jennifer Matthews as vice-chair and Robert Weinberg as chairman.

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