Lawsuit Challenges BZA Ruling on RestoreN Station

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Neighbors of the proposed RestoreN Station on Rt. 250 have file a lawsuit in Albemarle Circuit Court challenging the May 3 decision of the Albemarle Board of Zoning Appeals that backed a ruling by County Zoning Chief Ron Higgins, who had determined that the enlargement of the second floor of the project from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet is in “general accord” with the Albemarle Supervisors’ attempts to reduce the scale of the project in their action on it in October 2010.

The suit, filed on behalf of Richard Brown and Bruce Kirtley, who had challenged Higgins’ ruling to the BZA in the first place, as well as Chris and Ann Suh, owners of Brownsville Market, and Marcia Joseph, was prepared by attorney Thomas W. “T.J.” Aldous of the Zobrist Law Group. Duane Zobrist had represented the neighbors in the appeal before the BZA. Aldous, a Republican, has since announced his candidacy for the 25th District seat in the Virginia Senate, which has been held since 2001 by Democrat Creigh Deeds.

The 20-page suit retraces the procedural history of the project through county review and, with extensive examination of the transcript of the Board of Supervisors’ discussions of the project, attempts to show that the enlargement of the second floor from a dormered “family office” space into a second level of rental offices three times as large cannot be consistent with Supervisors’ many conditions on the project, which were designed to limit its scale, water use and impact on neighbors in Freetown.

One condition imposed by the Supervisors limited the building’s footprint to 3,000 square feet, an attempt to prevent future expansion of the structure, with the implied greater water use. In his subsequent submission of a plan for the store, project developer Jeff Sprouse converted the second level to a full story over the first, essentially placing the rejected addition on top of the approved first floor. The suit argues that this change violates the expressed goals of the Supervisors and that Higgins ruling of “general accord,” as well as the BZA’s, which neighbors felt gave only a perfunctory hearing to their argument, should be overturned by the Circuit Court. As a remedy, the suit seeks the restoration of the original plan for the second floor of the store.

The revised design for the second floor, which include a cantilevered porch walkway around it, was slammed by the Albemarle Architectural Review Board in May and another ARB hearing on the project is slated for August 1.

No court date for hearing the lawsuit has been set yet.

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