Is the Rural Crescent for Sale?

Guest Post by Michelle Trenum

UPDATE: The Board of Zoning Appeals voted to defer their decision because the applicant filed a lawsuit in Circuit Count based on their premise that the Zoning Ordinance currently allows by-right access to public sewer for properties near existing sewer lines. The outcome of this court case could affect future development in the SRR district as well as the Nokesville Sector Plan area. Check back, we’ll post additional information as it becomes available.

Only days after Avendale chipped away 175 acres from the Rural Crescent, we have another case of someone trying to sneak in another assault on the Rural Crescent.

Currently the only exception to the Rural Crescent’s one home per 10 acres is a family subdivision.   Our subdivision laws allow that a landowner may give or sell 1 acre lots to immediate family members.

Unfortunately family members include a wide range of aunts, uncles, etc. and there is no age limit with even babies being listed as family members holding the lots.   The family members must agree to hold onto the parcels for five years and each of the family members signs a legal document pledging their intent to use the land for family use and NOT to circumvent local subdivision laws concerning densities.

Apparently some real estate developers are pursuing the family subdivision loophole as a way to subdivide and increase densities  in the rural area.  On Monday, August 16 at 2 pm the Board of Zoning Appeals will hear one such case. 

A real estate developer who purchased two 10-acre lots in Nokesville 6 years ago has applied to divide the land into 18-20 one-acre lots for “family members”.  The developer  is asking the county and the public to stretch their imaginations to believe that he actually has 18-20 family members who plan to build and live in homes on those lots.   The neighbors speculate that he is doing this to get around the current county zoning ordinances and the Comprehensive Plan.

The developer must have public sewer connections to all 20 lots and has applied for such connections.  The Comp Plan and the Nokesville Sector Plan are very specific about connecting to the limited sewer available in the rural area.

Nokesville Sector Plan:

9. The existence or extension of a public sewer system to serve a site shall not promote increased densities that would not otherwise be allowed given the application of the various chapters of the Comprehensive Plan and relevant compatibility issues.

This is clearly a case of a developer using the family subdivision clause to increase densities that would not otherwise be allowed.

The county zoning administrator denied sewer for the family division.  The developer has appealed to the county Board of Zoning Appeals.  The case will be heard at 2 pm Monday, August 16 in the Powell’s Creek Conference Room.

Please attend this meeting or email the Board of Zoning Appeals to let them know you support the Zoning Administrator’s DENIAL of this application: jdbrenkus@aol.com;lpbork@verizon.net, nevers@pwcgov.org

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4 comments so far

  1. Traci Morris on

    It has been brought to my attention on Aug 16 at 2 pm the Board of Zoning Appeals will hear a case about a real estate developer mysteriously having 18-20 “family members” in order to subdivide his land he purchased 6 years ago.
    I realize that a subdivision to a “family member” is currently allowed and I am not fundamentally opposed to this idea. However, please don’t tell me you believe this developer really has these “family members” and intends to provide them “housing” for years to come. I am sure, like most of us, he bought at the height of the market and had intended to build and flip the property – but with the economy the profit margin is no longer available. The market is cyclical and unfortunately the RIGHT thing to do is to require (as intended by the current comp plan) for the developer to hold the land and wait for the market to turn or sell at the current market price.
    If we had wanted a densely populated neighborhood, we would have all stayed or bought in Dale City, Lake Ridge, Woodbridge, Manassas, etc. The Comprehensive Plan was put into place for organized growth and to allow different “life style” opportunities for families and citizens of PW County. As a tax payer and a long time resident, I would like to be able to raise my family in a more rural setting in PW and not have to move to Stafford or a surrounding county.
    Thank you for taking my comments and opinion into consideration when you vote at 2 pm on Monday.

    Traci Cole
    Nokesville, VA

  2. Al Alborn on

    I attended this meeting (and attendance was sparse). The answer was no: 4 to 1.

  3. MK Trenum on

    Al, I don’t think you got that quite right. You might have missed the first few minutes of the meeting where the legal technicalities were discussed.

    The vote today was confusing because it wasn’t a vote on an approval or denial of the application. Instead the decision that passed today was a motion to “defer the case indefinitely” while a related lawsuit makes its way through the circuit court system. The applicant and the county both asked the board of zoning appeals to NOT vote yes or no today because if they did, it could complicate the current court case which was filed in June. They want the BZA to wait until after a judge has rendered a decision.

    So now it is up to the Judge on how to interpret those particular sections of code. The judge can either find that applicant was correct in interpreting code or that the county was correct in interpreting code. If the county was correct the applicant might be remanded back to the Board of Zoning Appeals and we would be right back to where we were today with the BZA voting yes or no on whether to support the county’s denial.

    Basically we all just sit and wait for the judge to rule.

  4. Al Alborn on

    I stand corrected… one thing that they need at meetings such as this is microphones (so we can actually hear what’s going on). I can say the crowd was pleased with the result.


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