Rappahannock County has filled its newly created government position of zoning administrator/deputy county administrator.
David Dameron, who for the past nine years was zoning administrator for Powhatan County west of Richmond — and for six years prior to that zoning enforcement officer for heavily populated Henrico County — began his new duties on Monday.
“It’s very beautiful here,” Dameron commented before anything else when sitting down with the Rappahannock News on his first official day in office. A 51-year-old father of three, he was also proud to announce that his youngest son this August will begin his freshman year at VMI.
Discussing just a few of the challenges that a zoning administrator faces in this age of population growth and building expansion, Dameron, who also did his share of county planning in Powhatan, said zoning positions require a great deal of juggling, and he expects that to be no different in Rappahannock, especially given the small size of the county workforce.
“I had occasion as [Powhatan] zoning administrator where I actually issued somebody a violation notice and then basically represented that same individual in front of the planning commission for wanting to do a special event,” he recalled.
He drew attention to tourist and guest homes, which like in other tourist regions around the state are popping up more and more in Rappahannock — not to mention Airbnbs, which enable residents to lease short-term lodging, including vacation rentals.
“I think nowadays people are looking at ways to have businesses out of their home, and make money out of their home, and not have to rent commercial space and spend a lot of money they don’t have,” he pointed out.
“And wedding venues seem to be increasingly popular, especially I’ve noticed here in the country, and of course there are the traffic issues and other challenges that go along with that [application] obviously.”
Dameron similarly touched on the increasing popularity of wineries around the state, including in stretches of Rappahannock County that previously saw little vehicular traffic and now have steady streams of patrons.
“I’ve dealt with wineries, and of course some of that is allowed by state code without any kind of county management,” noted Dameron. “And we’ve had microbreweries as well — in the Richmond area they are very popular — and I’ve dealt with the first one of those in Powhatan at a place that was already a wedding venue . . .
“I was actually involved with writing that section into the Powhatan zoning ordinance so that they could combine the two venues. And then I handled the case for them as well,” he said of dual roles that often come with his job.
“We are so very pleased to welcome Dave Dameron to Rappahannock and look forward to utilizing his expertise, especially in the areas of planning, zoning and enforcement, where he was on the front line in Powhatan County,” Rappahannock Supervisor John Lesinski told the News this week.
“With Dave on board we can hopefully overcome some of the acute staff shortage challenges we’ve faced and proactively tackle the land use issues before us on both the board of supervisors and the planning commission.”
The five-member board of supervisors made it clear when creating Dameron’s new county position that the ultimate hire would additionally handle some of the increased workload dropped onto the lap of Rappahannock County Administrator Debbie Keyser.
Until this week the administrator’s office consisted of only Keyser and a secretary, two of whom have quit in recent months.
“We set [Debbie] up to fail during the budget season last year,” Lesinski acknowledged earlier during a town hall meeting. “And what we found out is that despite the fact that she’s working meetings in the evenings, and working on weekends, working on holidays, there’s just not enough time in the day for one individual.”
Also reached this week, BOS member Ron Frazier commented: “After serving nearly 20 years on the planning commision I feel I have a unique perspective of what the board and citizens want to see protected in our county while moving forward into the future.
“I believe the rest of the board and planning commision welcome Mr. Dameron as our full time zoning administrator. I wish him all the best as he steps into this position.”
Dameron was among three finalists for the post.