Court dismisses NPEA suit after group complied with zoning order

Second suit still moving through system

Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker has granted Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff’s motion to dismiss a suit without prejudice against the Nationwide Pentecostal Evangelistic Association brought by County Zoning Administrator Michelle Somers.

After repeated letters of violation to the NPEA, Somers on May 9 filed a petition seeking to enjoin the NPEA from using its 9-acre property on Aaron Mountain Road as a campground during the groups’ annual religious retreats without a permit. The suit was dismissed after Somers inspected NPEA’s property and confirmed that water and electrical hookups for recreational vehicles and campers had been removed or disconnected.

Somers’ petition referred to a series of ongoing violations and proceedings dating back to the start of the 1980s. In 1981, a court action resulted in a Circuit Court decree enjoining NPEA from using the property as a campground or motor home court.

But because of a 1986 zoning ordinance change, the NPEA was eligible to apply for a Special Exception Permit to allow retreat attendees who wished to bring campers to hook up to water and electricity. Despite not having a permit, the NPEA continued to allow recreational vehicle hook-ups.

Finally in April of this year, NPEA applied for the permit. After a public hearing at the Planning Commission’s May 15 meeting, the planners voted unanimously to table further consideration of the application until NPEA’s Reverend Paul Markee could supply additional information and a detailed site plan.

Another suit, this one filed in April by James Grigsby, a neighbor to the NPEA’s property, also complains about the organization’s violation of the 1981 court decree against the use of the property as a campground. Grigsby’s suit also alleges that NPEA is allowing travel trailers on a section of the property restricted by the decree.

In the June 6 circuit court session, Grisgby’s attorney David Konick presented a motion asking to allow Grigsby to intervene in Somers’ suit. Parker declared the motion moot after he dismissed the Somers case.

About Patty Hardee 294 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.

1 Comment

  1. Something smelly about this outcome
    Do I understand correctly that the county attorney put himself in opposition to the county zoning administrator ?
    And the judge overruled a legislative action, while the legislative action was not declared unlawful ?
    Smells to high heaven . . .

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