By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
What started as a zoning complaint back in May against David and Kumud Vanderveer’s bed and breakfast (B&B) led to a Notice of Official Determination of Violation delivered in June. Currently their appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals is pending. So while the B&B has been operating for over a year, a request was made to the Planning Commission in August to allow the B&B including an expansion. This request was denied, 4 – 1, and the process then brought the request to the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission didn’t feel the business was not in harmony with the surrounding residential development.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday night to an overflow crowd in County Office Meeting Room where the request for a Special Use Permit was brought to the Board of Supervisors and it has been scaled down to the two buildings that currently exist.
Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda presented the request to the Board of Supervisors stating the property is 21 acres within the Riverdale Subdivision and has several access roads. He explained that the original request was for seven structures but it is now down to the existing two structures. Comments provided from VDOT, the Health Department, etc. brought up no problem issues. The Comprehensive Plan for A-1 zoning states that the rural area is to be preserved and supports growth of cottage industries.
The Vandeveers addressed the Board of Supervisors. They explained that their dream is for a quiet, peaceful place to live. The use of their property as a B&B rented mainly on the weekend, has less traffic than if they rented their property full time which they are allowed to do by right. The buildings are in the middle of the 21 acres and therefore there is minimal noise to their neighbors.
When the meeting was opened for public comments there were over 30 speakers. Out of the 15 residents from the Riverdale subdivision who spoke, 13 were against the B&B. The comments came down to those who spoke in favor of the B&B and how the property was well run and well taken care of. These were friends of the Vanderveers and those who have stayed at the B&B.
On the other hand, the residents of Riverdale spoke highly of the Vanderveers but expressed concern that the Special Use Permit (SUP) stays with the property and if the Vanderveers were to leave, the property could be modified into any of the permitted uses that a SUP allows. In addition, the residents of Riverdale brought up the fact that the covenants of the deed expressly prohibit businesses in the subdivision.
County Attorney Ray Clark clarified that the zoning and the covenants of the deed are independent of each other and can each exist. He indicated that if the SUP was granted but the covenants disallowed a business, then there would have to be a legal remedy to the conflict. Also, several residents in Riverdale questioned how the Vanderveers are operating a business without a business license.
The meeting then shifted to the discussion of the Board. Supervisor Davis Lamb – Ruckersville District reviewed how long the business has been operating vs. when the Special Use Permit was made. Supervisor Eddie Deane – At Large stated he visited the site and appreciates all the work that has been done on the property. However, he agrees with the Planning Commission. Supervisor Bill Martin – Stanardsville District stated that Greene is looking for businesses and tax revenue to take the burden off of homeowners. He is a friend of the Vanderveers and believes they mean well but they got their operation out in front of the process. There is not harmony in the Riverdale community as per the zoning ordinance states in Section 16-2-b “The use shall be in harmony with the uses permitted by right” and while the concept is good, the location is wrong.
Chairman Jim Frydl – Midway District agreed with Martin’s comments – it is a good business, but that is not the issue they have to rule on. If there was no existing business in operation would the SUP be approved – the answer is no. Vice Chairman David Cox – Monroe District has been to the property many times and what bothers him is that it has been operating without a Permit. He also agreed that it is a good idea in the wrong place. The vote was 5-0 to deny the Special Use Permit.
The deeper issue for Greene County is how to stay ahead of these type of operations to ensure they seek the proper approval before they begin.
The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Greene County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.