Group appeals CTB’s stub street release

Attorney David Konick and four other supporters of his nearly year-long legal challenge of “beautification” projects by the town of Washington and its largest business, the Inn at Little Washington, have filed an appeal in Rappahannock County Circuit Court of the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s Oct. 27 decision to remove the stub end of Middle Street from its secondary-road system.

The group’s complaint, filed last Wednesday (Dec. 2) with the circuit court clerk’s office (but not yet scheduled for a hearing), alleges that relevant traffic data were improperly ignored in the decision by the CTB, the governing body of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

“In rendering its decision, the CTB overlooked or ignored evidence from [VDOT] as to the traffic count that indicated significant public usage of Middle Street of over 400 trips per day, making it one of the busiest and most congested streets of the County Seat,” says the complaint. It further notes that the CTB ignored evidence that Middle Street is part of a network of preservation-worthy streets singled out in the town’s 2012 comprehensive plan as “inherent and critical parts of the Town’s historic nature” and of its efforts to manage traffic congestion.

The appellants — Konick, Marian Bragg, Christine Smith and Timothy and Mary Lou Pagano, none of them town residents but the first three self-described in the complaint as “regular patrons” of the U.S. Post Office at the intersection of Main and Middle streets — have also been vocal supporters of Konick’s  lawsuit against the town and the Inn (and its proprietor Patrick O’Connell, who is also a town council member).

The Oct. 27 CTB decision to end VDOT’s 21-year-old maintenance agreement effectively cleared the way for the Inn to continue planned improvements on the 171-foot stub end of Middle west of Main, a stretch the town council first deeded to the Inn at Little Washington in 2013 as part of a joint “Town Center Beautification” project by the town, the Inn and Trinity Episcopal Church — and which became the subject of a Konick’s lawsuit early in 2015.

After that suit ended this year, the town again deeded the dead-end street to the county’s largest private business and biggest tourist draw — an act Konick maintains violated conflict of interest and procurement laws in 2013, as well as VDOT regulations in 2015. The appellants in the CTB suit say the state’s abandonment of the stub — for which VDOT’s only criteria concern whether it constitutes a “public convenience” — will exacerbate an already difficult parking situation in the town.

The Inn has said its plans for the stub street and surrounding properties include more parking than what is now available.

The Inn plans to create landscaped parking areas and pedestrian walkways leading to a reconfigured Middle Street entrance to a renovated post office in the Inn-owned Krebser Building (where the post office recently agreed on a long-term lease in exchange for the renovations).

Just before the CTB’s October decision, Konick also filed notice that he intended to appeal with the state Supreme Court of Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker’s August decision to reject his original petition against the town and the Inn. Parker’s decision was based on Konick’s lack of standing as a non-resident. Konick filed that appeal petition last week.