Has anyone noticed a disturbing trend by the Rappahannock County Planning Commission where it approves applications despite overwhelming opposition from those most affected? Last Wednesday was no exception.
The commission was hearing the Dodd Tourist Home Application, SU 17-05-08, and virtually all of the adjacent landowners attended to oppose the application. My neighbors and I were berated by members of the planning commission and compared to a mob. Comments by me and others about increased traffic by persons not familiar with the area or narrow, winding country roads were termed irrelevant. Serious legal questions were raised that required county attorney input, but the commission opted to ignore them rather than tabling the application.
So why does the county “Application for a Special Use Permit or Variation” request the applicant to confirm that the neighbors have all been contacted? Why does the county bother to send notices to affected land owners if not to elicit their input into the decision making process? Why does the planning commission schedule time for public comment during their public meetings? Why bother holding public meetings, beyond the state laws requiring the same?
I submit that the practices and conduct of the Rappahannock County Planning Commission are unacceptable. When legal issues are raised as part of an application, particularly issues that could potentially determine the application null and void, or cause commission members to recuse themselves over actual or apparent conflicts of interest thus impacting the vote, the process should dictate that the application be tabled until such time as legal advice is rendered.
Planning commission members need to accept all comments and not cherry-pick those with which they agree and denigrate those with which they do not. And, when an overwhelming majority of affected land owners turns out in opposition to an application before the commission, the commission’s recommendation should reflect that.
A healthy turnout by affected land owners is not a mob!