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Julie Gibson Coonce

On Sept. 30, the Rappahannock County Circuit Court appointed Rock Mills resident Julie Gibson Coonce to the Board of Zoning Appeals. 

“I'm honored to be appointed by the circuit court and I look forward to working with the board,” Coonce said in an email to the Rappahannock News. 

“I consider myself privileged to live in Rappahannock County and I have great respect for those who, many years ago, established the ordinances that protect the quality of life and beauty we all enjoy today.”


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Coonce will unseat former Hampton district representative Chris Bird, who served two full terms on the BZA. “I want to thank Chris Bird for his service to the county and his contributions to the board. I have big shoes to fill and hope to serve the community well,” Coonce said. 

Bird, who applied for reappointment to his position before his second term expired on Oct. 6, told the Rappahannock News on Tuesday that he was never formally notified of his replacement.

Bird recalled that Board Chair Alex Sharp and Vice Chair Ron Makela had alluded to his dismissal in casual phone calls the week after the judge issued the order, but added that he had not received confirmation “through any official channel.” 

Nevertheless, Bird said he “enjoyed [his] time on the BZA.”

“I feel it is a useful organization which has helped create the existing conditions of the zoning laws,” Bird said. “I hope my findings and experience on the BZA has been enjoyed and appreciated by the residents of this county.”

Sharp and Makela also faced term expirations at the beginning of the month, but both representatives were reinstated.

After Coonce’s appointment, the majority of the Board of Zoning Appeals consists of newcomers, with Steph Ridder and Bill Tieckelmann having been appointed to their first terms at the end of July.