Zoning board approves Loock apartment plan

In its first meeting of 2014, the Rappahannock County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approved the lone request before it last Wednesday night (April 23): a family apartment request from Amissville resident Don Loock.

The board began by formally electing its 2014 officers, reelecting Alexander Sharp as the planning commission representative, Jennifer Matthews at vice-chair and reappointing Robert Weinberg as the chairman. Weinberg noted he was entering the final year of his five-year stint on the board, and likely wouldn’t run again.

Loock told the board he wanted to use part of an existing barn on his property as a family apartment for his in-laws, and presented floor plans for the apartment, which would be constructed by tearing down parts of the nearby barn.

Loock explained that the barn itself is sectional and has been added onto over the years — “It’s fairly pieced together,” he explained. His plan was to simply tear down the expansions and return the barn to its original frame.

Loock said the goal was to provide his wife’s parents — who currently reside in Annapolis — a place to stay, as well as easy access to visit their grandchildren. The apartment wouldn’t serve as a permanent residence, Loock added, as his in-laws would continue living in Maryland.

He and his wife also had no plans to rent the apartment, and while construction hasn’t yet begun, Loock said the goal was to finish the apartment by October.

“Of which year?” laughed Christopher Bird.

As happened at last week’s planning commission meeting, none of the BZA members had objections to Loock’s request. Once again, the only issue raised concerned the apartment’s septic system, which Matthews pointed out would be subject to the state health department standards enforced locally by Medge Carter.

“Everything in the county is subject to her,” joked Loock.

The BZA ultimately unanimously approved Loock’s request, 5-0. “Congratulations on your new house-to-be,” said Weinberg.

Harmony Manor suit stalled

County Administrator John McCarthy gave the board a brief update on the Harmony Manor lawsuit — specifically, that there was nothing new to report.

The lawsuit — filed shortly after the BZA’s October decision to approve a three-room expansion of Randall and Kimberly Fort’s Clark Lane B&B, over the objections of both the neighbors and the planning commission — has not progressed since, McCarthy said.

A representative for the defendants, the Clark Lane Residents Committee, had initially requested court availability dates in April and May, McCarthy said, but nothing had been filed. Also of note, one of the (now former) residents of Clark Lane, Pat Choate, has since sold his property and moved, McCarthy added, though it’s unclear what — if anything — that means for the lawsuit.