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Property Owner Continues Delay Effort

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 - For the second month in a row, the City has endeavored simply to get a hearing date scheduled regarding the BZA’s erroneous decision to grant a variance for an illegal wall. For the second month, the property owner’s counsel has invoked his status as a Virginia legislator to delay again the disposition of the matter.

View a copy of the City’s most recent filing regarding the stall tactic in the matter.

 


 

City's appeal of illegal wall delayed by property owner

SEPTEMBER 6, 2018 — The City promptly filed its petition for appeal on July 3, 2018 regarding a Board of Zoning Appeals decision concerning features of an illegal wall built at 1403 N. Augusta Street. However, the property owner has not filed any response to the petition, although she was served with a copy of the petition.

The City has now repeatedly sought to have the matter promptly scheduled for hearing before the Staunton Circuit Court, but the property owner’s legal counsel is using his status as a Virginia legislator to delay the scheduling.

View a copy of the City’s filed response to the legislative delay tactic on behalf of the property owner.

Since that time, the City has tried to get the property owner’s counsel to agree just informally on a date for a hearing, but the delay continues. The City does not know whether the property owner’s counsel has filed similar delay motions in other cases currently pending or whether it has been done selectively in this case.

As a result of the delay tactic, the City is prevented from having the circuit court review and decide its appeal of what it believes was another erroneous decision by the Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals.

For historical background on this issue, please see the FAQs below.


City Council to defend zoning law and appeal BZA’s decision on illegal wall

JUNE 26, 2018 — City Council recently adopted a resolution to appeal the 3-2 variance decision of the unelected Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) made on June 12 regarding features of an illegal wall built at 1403 N. Augusta Street.

Council’s decision to defend its zoning laws continues a consistent approach it has taken, after repeated efforts to get voluntary compliance and even after the City proposed a compromise that, if it had been accepted by the property owner, would have ended the matter several years ago.

The illegal wall has been the subject of ongoing consideration for approximately 10 years. With this most recent action by City Council, this is the third time the City has had to seek judicial intervention.

  • 2009: Originally, in 2009, the City had to get a judicial review to have reversed the first unlawful BZA “variance”—or special exception—to the City’s zoning laws for the same illegal wall.  Read the Circuit Court’s order.

  • 2009-2014: Read several of the letters sent by the City’s zoning administrator and zoning staff to the property owners and their legal counsel.

  • 2014: After exhausting efforts to try to get voluntary compliance by the property owner just to lower the height of the wall some, the City proved in Circuit Court that the high wall was still illegal, but ultimately the property owner was allowed to seek yet another variance from the BZA. Read City Council’s 2014 resolution.

  • 2018: Now, in this third instance, the City will have to seek judicial intervention to have reviewed the BZA’s latest decision. Read City Council's 2018 resolution.

For an understanding of the issue, historical background and the City’s next steps, also see the FAQs below. 

Records of the June 12, 2018 Decision of the Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals

FAQs

  • When did this issue begin?
  • Why has the City continued to pursue legal action about the illegal wall over the last 10 years?
  • How much has the City spent on legal fees in court?
  • Has the City tried to resolve this issue outside of court?
  • Has the property owner of the illegal wall made any efforts to come into compliance with the City’s zoning laws?
  • The property owner says a member of the City’s staff gave her permission to build the wall. Didn’t the City make a mistake?
  • Why wouldn’t City Council just drop it all and avoid incurring any further expense?
More FAQs