Will Comprehensive Plan get some outside help?

Planning Commission begins process for new Food Pantry building

The Rappahannock County Planning Commission is weighing outside assistance to complete the Comprehensive Plan, while conducting preliminary reviews of applications for tourist homes, a campground, school expansion, and proffer amendment for a new Rappahannock Food Pantry building.

The commission at its regular meeting voted unanimously in favor of a public hearing to amend proffers at a School House Road property that has been proposed for the Food Pantry. The property, located behind the Atlantic Union Bank on Route 211 and across from the Rappahannock County Elementary School — owned by Pleasant View of Rappahannock — was rezoned in 2002 to General Commercial. The rezoning created a 100-foot wide resource protection area along two drainage channels running north-south on the property.

According to its application to the Zoning Administrator, Pleasant View now wishes to have the resource protection area reduced to allow for the new Food Pantry building. A public hearing will be scheduled for an upcoming Planning Commission meeting, subject to completed designs for the building and updated site plan and proffers.

Meanwhile, Chairman Gary Light suggested scheduling another work session for the planners to continue working on redrafting the Comprehensive Plan. “I feel like the meeting two weeks between our regular meetings to have work sessions has [helped us make] progress and is working pretty well,” he said.

Christine Smith, the Board of Supervisors’ rep to the Planning Commission, reported that the BOS was considering contracting with an outside consulting firm, The Berkley Group, on the Comprehensive Plan. Light said that County Administrator Garrey Curry had asked the planners to look at The Berkley Group’s proposed scope of work before Curry contracted with the company.

The Berkley Group is a Virginia-based professional consulting firm specializing in evaluating and operating government service delivery processes for state counties during a time when “local government’s resources are shrinking while expectations for delivering real-world results are greater than ever before.”

“Government exists to serve its citizens with critical services, and to improve our quality of life,” the company states. “We specialize in improving government services and can also assist them with services including government processes and procedures; capital project management; communications; land use and transportation planning; stormwater management; community involvement and group facilitation.”

In other action, Golden Springs LLC has applied for Special Use Permits to run two tourist homes on the 570-acre High Meadow Manor along Crest Hill Road in Flint Hill. Matthew Neiswanger, owner of the property and the manager of the LLC, wrote in his application that the existing structures would be used to accommodate overnight guests visiting the property’s winery.

The planners voted unanimously to table public hearings on the applications until the county’s health department could approve the septic system and drain fields for the two houses.

In her introduction to the preliminary hearing for a Special Exception Permit application for the National Pentecostal Evangelistic Association, Zoning Administrator Michelle Somers gave a brief history of the NPEA’s presence in the county.

“This application is the result of ongoing violations and court proceedings dating back to the start of the 1980s,” Somers said. In 1981, a court action resulted in a Circuit Court decree enjoining NPEA from using the property as a campground or motor home court.

Because of a 1986 zoning ordinance change, the NPEA was eligible to apply for a SEP. It has not until recently. James Grigsby, a neighbor to the NPEA’s 9-acre property on Aaron Mountain Road, is suing the NPEA. He alleges that the organization is running a campground without the necessary permit and allowing travel trailers on a restricted section of the property.

The county also has ordered NPEA to cease and desist any campground operations for lack of a permit.

Reverend Paul Markee spoke in favor of the NPEA’s permit application. The organization wishes “to use its property for no more than 7 travel trailers in the location allowed by variance in [the consent decree] for no more than 15 days per year in connection with the NPEA’s Annual Camp Meeting for its constituents,” according to the SEP application.

Alternatively, the NPEA would like to use another section of its 9-acre property on Aaron Mountain Road that was restricted by the consent decree.

Chairman Light pointed out additional standards for campgrounds in the county’s zoning ordinance and requested that the application be amended to address those standards.

Hampton planner Al Henry and others asked Markee to supply a professionally drawn detailed site plan “that spells out what we expect from you and what the neighbors expect from you.”

Chris Bird, the BZA representative to the Planning Commission, said he thought the application offered a win-win for everyone.

“If the permit is limited to seven hook-ups and with a site plan … that is specific and enforceable, it would minimize destruction to the landscape,” Bird said. “It would maximize the protection of the neighbors and it would be beneficial in terms of not costing any more money.”

In light of the court case, the planners struggled over how best to proceed, but voted unanimously to table further consideration of the application until Markee could supply the requested information and detailed site plan.

Other actions

Mike Biniek and Susan Hoffman, owners of the Belle Meade Montessori School on F. T. Valley Road in Sperryville, applied for a Special Use Permit to convert a residential building on the property for educational use. The conversion would allow the school to accept primary and elementary students in addition to its middle and high school students.

The planners asked for more detail on the capacity and use of the building. They voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing once the applicants can supply further details about the use of the structure, a more detailed site plan, and Department of Health approval.

The planners also discussed possibly setting a deadline for John Cappiali’s application for a Special Exception Permit for a contractor’s yard at his Lee Highway property. Cappiali last addressed the Planning Commission at its March 20 meeting, at which the planners voted unanimously for Cappiali to supply a detailed, professionally prepared site plan.

He has not returned to the Planning Commission since. Zoning Administrator Michelle Somers reported that Cappiali had called the day of the May meeting to request time on the planners’ agenda, but that he had not yet supplied a new site plan.

Cappiali is also a party in a suit brought by Jeremiah Atkins alleging that Cappiali is running a junkyard. Several of the planners expressed concern about whether their actions might affect the course of the suit. But they agreed that they would be open to Cappiali speaking at a future Planning Commission meeting.

“Then the burden is on him,” said Henry. “If he doesn’t have a complete application [at that time], we’ll go from there.”

Somers told the planners that she has created a running list on Boarddocs of the zoning ordinance amendments the BOS has asked the Planning Commission to consider.

The planners also approved the renewal of the Jenkins Mountain and Massie-Exton Agricultural and Forestal Districts.

An unedited video of the meeting can be found online at rappnews.com/video, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/RappNewsPlus. The meeting agenda and related documents are online at boarddocs.com/va/corva/Board.nsf/Public.

About Patty Hardee 284 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.

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