Narmada permit approved; Northup recognized; Lesinski to serve on planning commission
The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors reorganized, as always, at its first regular meeting of the year — its afternoon and evening meetings moved by the New Year’s Day holiday from the usual Monday to last Wednesday, Jan. 4.
Organizational changes were few — the board unanimously re-elected Wakefield district’s Roger Welch as its chair, and Stonewall-Hawthorne’s Chris Parish as vice chair — but included one significant change: The board’s representative to the county planning commission is now John Lesinski of Hampton district, the newest supervisor; it had been, for years, Jackson district’s Ron Frazier.
Frazier and Lesinski have often, over the last year, vocally disagreed on a number of county government procedures and processes, many of them related to zoning, planning and personnel issues. But Lesinski’s new assignment to the planning commission — and Frazier’s likewise new appointment to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail commission, a post Lesinski held last year — passed largely without comment at Wednesday’s meeting.
This could be attributed to the fact that Lesinski, Welch, Parrish and Piedmont district supervisor Mike Biniek and the county itself are about to defend themselves next Wednesday (Jan. 18) in circuit court, where Sperryville llama farmer Marian Bragg and attorney David Konick have brought suit, alleging the supervisors violated Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act in closed-door meetings held last year on the search for a replacement for the now-retired county attorney, Peter Luke.
Another explanation for the lack of discussion of the appointments: Frazier’s name was removed from the list of respondents to the lawsuit after he signed an agreement, offered by Konick, admitting that the supervisors had indeed violated the FOIA. (At least one of Frazier’s constituents has called for Frazier’s resignation over that admission.)
At its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday, the board unanimously agreed to the planning commission’s recommendation that Narmada Winery be granted a special-exception permit to hold up to 10 weddings and other special events at the Amissville facility for up to 250 people.
The board briefly discussed the curfew for amplified music, and whether the planning commission’s recommendation of stopping the amplified sounds at 10 p.m. was a suggestion or an actual condition of the permit approval.
“The planning commission recommended 10, but we never accepted that,” said owner Pandit Patil. “My biggest hope is with you, the board . . . And I think if you give us what we are asking, the county will do well. We will make money, and you will make more money.”
The supervisors agreed to 10:30 p.m., accepting Frazier’s suggestion that they also add a one-year review to the permit.
“If people complain,” Patil said, “you can hold me responsible.”
The board passed a resolution honoring retiring Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Jim Northup, the only park superintendent the supervisors could recall ever to be recognized by the county board.
“This is a great honor and I really appreciate it,” said Northup, there to receive a framed copy of the resolution. Northup’s career with the park service spans 36 years, and his relationship goes even further back with Rappahannock County, where he and his wife still own a home.
“It’s just been my privilege to be the superintendent of Shenandoah National Park for the last four years and I appreciate so much the friendship that we’ve had with Rappahannock County, and your support for the park. So thank you so much; I know that relationship will continue.”
By Luke Christopher and Roger Piantadosi
Documents from the meetings are available at: http://boarddocs.com/va/corva/Board.nsf/Public
A video record of the meeting can also be found online on Kaitlin Struckmann’s Rappahannock Record YouTube channel.