Afton Depot Special Use Permit Extension Fails 2-2

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9485 Rockfish Valley Highway (Route 151). Photo: Mary Cunningham.

The regular meeting of the Nelson Board of Supervisors was well attended by the public on February 11 when all fivemembers of the new board were present for the first time.  A dozen public comments were heard describing a variety of items, including a 911 call failing to satisfy a concerned family, pros and cons of the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, a pitch for a new Sports Complex, pothole issues, and expansion concerns of an airfield in Nellysford. 

The unfinished business of the board that was carried over from last year included extension of an expired Special Use Permit #2018-05 for Farm Winery Permanent Remote Retail Establishment and Restaurant. The property, located at 9485 Rockfish Valley Highway (Route 151), has been a contentious issue between the applicant, Todd Rath, and the adjoining neighbors of Rockfish Orchard. Rath was invited to address the board to identify the causes of delays and plans for the advertised sale of the property. Engineering time and costs in addition to legal challenges were given as reasons no work has been completed in the time frame permitted. The 16.3 acre property remains for sale at $679,000 on Zillow.com. A vote on the permit extension was 2-2 with an abstention by Skip Barton, South District, who was attending his first meeting. Without a majority in favor, the motion fails, and the request is automatically denied. The special use permit is now null and void. Agriculture use of the property without a special use permit may include a bed and breakfast or farm winery “by right.” 

Dylan Bishop, director of planning and zoning, described the current status of updating and changing the Comprehensive Land Use Plan from 2002 (amended in 2014). The process in the beginning stage is now in discussion with possible planning consultants for a start date by the end of June 2020. Together with the County Administrator, the Planning and Zoning Board, and public input, the updated version could be adopted by June 2021. 

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