Discusses status of Skyline Vineyard Inn and Sperryville ‘sign’ 

The issue of family apartments — as a dwelling type defined in the county’s zoning ordinance — took center stage at the Rappahannock County Board of Zoning Appeals regular meeting on July 24 with two applicants for special use permits.

The first, brought by Robert Chapman, was a renewal of a previous permit he obtained in May of 2016 to convert a barn on his Sperryville property into a residence for his mother. Zoning regulations required him to begin the conversion of the property within a year, but because the project was never started, Chapman had to reapply.

During the BZA discussion, member David Konick pointed out that the ordinance for density in an area zoned village residential allows only one dwelling per acre. Chapman’s home and barn sit on less than half an acre.

BZA members Ron Makela, Jennifer Matthews, and Chair Alex Sharp voted to approve the permit. Konick voted against. Member Chris Bird was absent.

Other concerns surfaced in the public hearing for an application for a family apartment brought by Joseph Galeone and Anne Bolles. The couple proposes to build a cottage on their 34-acre Castleton property to house Bolles’ mother.

County Supervisor Chris Parrish, speaking during the public hearing, said he hoped Galeone and Bolles would be “sensitive to the viewshed.” Parrish said he can see the couple’s house from his property and that the house has a galvanized roof that shines even on cloudy days.

Parrish asked the BZA if it would consider requiring the couple to install a different colored roof on the cottage.

Makela said Parrish’s request “borders on architectural control” and that he would vote against a permit condition mandating roof color.

Konick agreed: “I sympathize with Mr. Parrish . . . but this is well beyond the ordinance” requirements.

Bolles said that her inclination was to install a darker, non-reflective roof, but that she wasn’t promising.

Konick voted against approving then permit, while the other three voted in favor.

A later discussion delved deeper into the family apartment definition compared to those of an efficiency apartment and a guest house, both additional dwelling types allowed under the county’s zoning ordinance in certain circumstances.

Family apartments must be less than 1200 feet in size and within 200 feet of the main residence. They must house a family member for at least two years. After that, a family apartment can be rented out to anyone.

Efficiency apartments are within the main dwelling and, according to the code, “shall contain no more than 600 square feet of gross floor area or 25 percent of the area of the dwelling, whichever is greater.”

Konick pointed out that given this definition, a house of 25,000 square feet could include an efficiency apartment of 6,250 square feet.

Guest houses, as defined, can be used “only for the occasional housing of guests of the occupants of the principal structure and not as rental units or for permanent occupancy as a housekeeping unit.” Guest houses can include a bedroom and either a bathroom or a kitchen, but not both.

Konick asked whether there is really a distinction between a family apartment and an efficiency apartment, arguing that whether the dwelling is occupied by a family member or not is irrelevant.

Once those definitions are amended, he said, then the county should “clean up the deal with density.” 

Jackson district resident Page Glennie said the county does not do a good job of enforcing the zoning ordinance. People have learned, he said, that “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

The BZA also discussed the status of a revocation action against Harmony Manor/Skyline Vineyard Inn on Clark Lane. At its June meeting, the BZA recessed the hearing to gather information from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority.

Carl and Donna Henrickson, current owners of the Skyline Inn, have been accused of renting five rooms of the B&B in violation of their three-bedroom permit. And holding for-profit events at the facility, also a violation. Clark Road neighbors have opposed the operation for years, complaining of increased traffic on the one-lane, private, gravel road, as well as unwanted visits from unruly B&B guests. 

The Henricksons, who also own the Little Washington Winery on an adjacent property that fronts on Christmas Tree Lane, claim the winery has leased space in the B&B. Their winery license allows wine tastings at several remote locations. They also are creating another winery at the B&B. The revocation hearing will continue at the BZA’s August 22 meeting.

The BZA members also asked for an update on the “Welcome to Sperryville” sign painted on the side of the Happy Camper Equipment Company on Main Street. The BZA ruled on August 29, 2018, to uphold Zoning Administrator Michelle Somers’ charge that the sign — which the owner, Robert Archer, now calls a mural — is in violation of the county’s sign ordinance.

Somers stated that she had given Archer two extensions while waiting for the Board of Supervisors to address and possibly amend the ordinance.

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