The Aug. 8 letter [“Restore county zoning integrity”] got it about half right. The wrong half dealt with three ideas:
The two-thirds majority of neighbors being an ironclad thing is sort of a red herring. Based on the general attitude of making any changes around Rappahannock County, I’d wager you can generate such numbers of naysayers against anything without really trying.
A single person serving on two commissions/boards is not bad. The planning commission has primarily appointed positions for each magisterial district and then additionally has “representatives” from the board of supervisors and board of zoning adjustment (BZA). So of course there will be two instances of overlap. Why is this wrong? It is perfectly reasonable for this to be the case. The planning commission gets a sense of what the other two boards think about any given topic, and the two boards get early feedback of what is happening.
As to real estate agents on either of those boards, well, we all have our own opinions, but I presume we have people of good character serving in all these positions. To deny any one profession the opportunity to serve would be the most blatant discrimination I can think of. Where would that end?
If that turns out to be wrong, we have to let our supervisor know why we’re concerned or ultimately elect new members to the board of supervisors that we believe will make some changes in the appointment process. The circuit court appoints the BZA members and surely the county residents must be able to influence those decisions as well.
As to what the authors of the opinion piece got right, they hit the nail on the head by pointing to an indirect taking without compensation in approving the variances for B&B right-of-way requirements. It appears that county officials often make decisions contrary to existing zoning (and other) rules based on how they felt after lunch on the day of making those decisions.
There should be some established protocols in place to define how such variances are to be considered and decided, in addition to what appears to be just personal preferences. As a starter, overturning a planning commission recommendation should be a rare exception and then only for some drastic concerns of public danger, fiscal impacts or other overriding hardship factors. I agree that “creeping degradation of the county zoning standards” must end.