The Washington Town Council met at town hall Monday night for nearly two hours, discussing at length an uncontested application by adjacent property owners at the north end of Gay Street asking that the invisible stub of that street be abandoned by the town. The council made no decision, other than to refer the matter to the planning commission — most of whose members were in the room Monday night.
Council member Fred Catlin also chairs the town planning commission (which next meets Sept. 24), and he had the most questions for Fredette Eagle Monday night. Eagle owns a small property on the northwest corner of Gay and Wheeler streets on which has sagged a 90-year-old former apple shed for as long as anyone can remember.
Per the formal abandonment request to the town, the westernmost 15 feet of the 30-foot-wide, 100-foot-long Gay Street right-of-way would become part of her property, enabling her to connect to town water and sewer and, she told the council, increasing the property width enough to allow her to perhaps consider building a small dwelling where the shed now sits. The easternmost 15 feet would become part of adjacent property owner George Eatman’s land.
Eatman and Eagle are co-applicants, and attorney Mike Brown’s letter to the town on their behalf noted they would assume the cost of an appraiser and pay the town fair value for the land. Adjacent property owners Lisa Leftwich to the west and Jerry and Cynthia Hodges (who own the property to the north, where the Gay Street right-of-way ends and the land drops off sharply) have signed a petition supporting the abandonment.
The council resolved unanimously to pass the issue to the planning commission. Commission member Caroline Anstey, from the audience, suggested the council consider having a policy in place for stub street abandonments in light of the town’s historic grid (said to have been laid out in the mid-1700s by the founding father for whom the town is named). Catlin told the council and applicants he hoped the council would have something to act on by its November meeting.
The council also heard a brief presentation by Catlin on the draft Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance, which he said was being reviewed by town attorney John Bennett and two other zoning experts, former Rappahannock County administrator John McCarthy and former Albemarle County planning official V. Wayne Cilimberg. Catlin said the commission would incorporate their comments and recommendations at its next session and hoped to have something the council could consider scheduling at its October meeting for a public hearing in November.