Richard Thomas addresses the BZA

Makela pushes to update “nonsensical” zoning maps with GIS

Lively debate preceded the approval of Rick Thomas’s application to the Rappahannock County Board of Zoning Appeals for a setback variance on Wednesday night. 

Thomas, who owns a 1.4-acre property on Old Browntown Lane in Huntly, has been making plans to build a “modest one-story dwelling” to serve as a guest house for family and friends. The property is zoned within a conservation district and abuts Waterfall Branch, a tributary of Hittles Mill Stream and the Rappahannock River. Because of the property’s zoning status, any buildings are required to be at least 100 feet from the creek. 

“The only thing that I'm asking for in this application is that you move … the rear setback from 100 feet to 74 feet, no changes on the other three sides. That would leave spaces for a clean rectangle [floorplan] ... opposed to what I have now which is a 10-corner rectangle,” Thomas said before the board.

For the agenda items, visit the County's BoardDocs site:​

Five of Thomas’s neighbors spoke in opposition of his request, voicing concerns about the ecological impact of the dwelling in close proximity to Waterfall Branch.

In the end, the BZA agreed on a measure somewhere in the middle. Wakefield Representative Steph Ridder moved that the Board approve a setback variance, but at the front of Thomas’s property, not the rear, so that the planned dwelling would be moved forward to allow a 100-foot riparian buffer. 

The motion passed 4-1, with Jackson District Representative Ron Makela casting the lone dissenting vote.

Here’s what else you missed at Wednesday night’s BZA meeting:

  • The board unanimously approved an application from SBHD Siblings, LLC to rent an existing  two-bedroom house on a 213-acre lot along Sperryville Pike as a tourist home. 

  • The board unanimously approved an application from Susanna and Bjorn Jemsby of Castleton to rent their home to tourists when they are away. 

  • BZA members agreed to hold a public hearing on a setback variance application from Charles R Wood Builders for a property on Zachary Taylor Highway (Route 522).

  • Chairman Alex Sharp prepared a budget request on behalf of the BZA for submission to the Board of Supervisors. County budget talks will continue over the next couple of months.

  • Makela suggested that the BZA discuss the state of the county’s zoning maps and “formally ask for the county to redo the zoning maps.” The Chairman agreed to prepare a recommendation for the Board of Supervisors.

For more on Wednesday night’s BZA meeting, watch the video by clicking the player above or pick up next week’s copy of the Rappahannock News on newsstands March 4.

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