Comp plan revision postponed for deputy’s arrival

At the request of County/Zoning Administrator John McCarthy, the Rappahannock County Planning Commission agreed to halt its routine five-year revision of the county comprehensive plan until 2015, when the county expects to have a deputy administrator.

Wednesday night (Aug. 20), McCarthy said he’d like that deputy’s first task to be finalizing revisions of the comprehensive plan — just as it was one of McCarthy’s first jobs when he was first appointed county administrator in 1988. The deputy post is in this year’s budget for a half-year salary, starting Jan. 1.

This year’s revision, which McCarthy said is “unlikely to have any dramatic changes,” is actually mostly complete, with only the plan’s final seventh chapter left to be revised. “I figure it’s a good way to get a new person invested in the future of this place, by putting them to work on [the comprehensive plan],” McCarthy said.

“We’ve revised all the facts in the plan,” McCarthy said Monday (Aug. 25). “And nothing major has come to light. There are some goals that need to be changed [because they’ve already been accomplished] . . . There’s no big initiative to implement.”

The planners’ only voiced concern came from Piedmont district commissioner Gary Settle, who wondered if there was any sort of state-mandated deadline for completing a plan revision. “Legally, you’re fine,” McCarthy replied.

The commissioners have already held meetings on the plan’s revisions (one at each of the county’s fire halls), which resulted in “a modest turnout,” McCarthy said. Because federal law only requires the plan to be reviewed — rather than revised — every five years, McCarthy said, the planning commission had more than fulfilled its legal requirements.

“Taking it off the shelf and simply blowing the dust off it could count as ‘reviewing’ it,” McCarthy not-entirely-jokingly added. “With your permission, I’d like to put it to bed for six months.”

The four commissioners present — Gary Light, Ron Frazier and Alvin Henry were all absent — agreed to McCarthy’s request, though no formal vote was taken.

Welch family apartment approved

The commissioners also approved a family apartment request Wednesday night from Castleton resident Bryant Welch, who noted, at Settle’s joking observation, that — as far as he knew — he wasn’t related to supervisors’ chairman Roger Welch.

Welch requested permission to use an existing structure, located on the upper level of his barn, as a family apartment while a new, permanent dwelling is built. After moving into the completed house, Welch said, he’d like to use the barn “as a place for my mother to stay.”

“She likes to live by herself,” Welch explained, “and this would be perfect for her.” Welch added that he’d continue to use the space as a family apartment once his mother no longer needed it.

McCarthy reminded the commissioners that family apartments must meet three county code requirements: They must be less than 200 feet from the main house, must be less than 1,200 square feet and can house no more than three people, at least one of whom must be a family member (for the apartment’s first three years). Welch’s application, McCarthy noted, met all those criteria.

The planners had no qualms or questions about Welch’s application, and approved it unanimously, 4-0. The application was scheduled to go before the board of zoning appeals last night (Wednesday, Aug. 27).

“Congratulations,” chairman Charles Strittmatter said, “Your next step is right back here next week.”