Is the Fix In on Ben Venue Road?

Like many roads in Rappahannock County, Ben Venue Road is a scenic road with neighbors who care about each other. Although most neighbors object to The Williams Tree Service operating on the road, they feel no enmity toward the Williams. Among the residents are those who grew up on Ben Venue Road as well as others who have purchased property here well before Mr. Williams. The sentiment that this issue is between the “come heres” and the “been heres” is overly simplistic and misplaced.

However, over the years the Board of Supervisors has repeatedly given Mr. Williams’ operation a pass, while ignoring numerous and detailed complaints. In 2007, with a tremendous amount of opposition and an erroneous designation as a “contractor’s office,”the Board approved Mr. Williams’ application with “a review of the permit experience in five years.”

In 2012, the Board reviewed Mr. Williams’ Ben Venue Road permit, again with much opposition. In response to the residents’ claims of non-compliance, the Board instead lessened the restrictions on Williams Tree Service in order for him to come into compliance.

Now in 2018, the Board’s September report states that it is “unaware of issues of non-compliance,” despite a petition from 14 neighbors, pictures of non-compliant trucks, notice of setback requirement violations, and a formal complaint regarding incorrect attribution of Mr. Williams’ original permit.

After Public Hearings in 2007, 2010, and 2012, Ben Venue neighbors are not being given a Public Hearing in 2018, despite being told otherwise. In addition, the Board now states that the word “review” does not exist in the code, and the permit is therefore permanent, although their very own documents consistently refer to a “review”.

It seems the Board of Supervisors continues to change the playing field as needed to uphold this erroneous permit. It remains to be seen whether they will be fair in their “review” (or whatever they will call it) on October 1st.

Bill Freitag, Ann Maclean, Susie MacNelly, Bob Mann, Sandra Renzy, Jennifer Scherschel
Flint Hill

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