By Les Cheek
Are you annoyed by developers’ “open house” signs cluttering up Fauquier’s highway shoulders every weekend? Have you ever been distracted by waving vertical banners or flapping air-powered vinyl humanoids advertising roadside businesses?
If so, you should know that all of these commercial displays are violations of the county’s zoning ordinance. And the fact that you see them repeatedly is one of the reasons why CFFC and other conservation organizations are mounting a campaign to persuade our Board of Supervisors to fund a full-time zoning enforcement position in the county’s Department of Community Development (COMDEV).
CFFC has made the case for a full-time zoning enforcement position in meetings with each of the five supervisors over the past several weeks.
COMDEV has asked the board for $34,300 in the county’s 2018 budget to elevate its part-time (20 hours per week) zoning inspector to full-time status.
COMDEV administers one of Virginia’s most complex and sophisticated zoning ordinances, yet is almost entirely dependent on reactive, complaint-driven processes for its enforcement. Consequently, even flagrant violations typically go unnoticed and uncorrected.
CFFC believes that the absence of proactive COMDEV zoning compliance monitoring creates the perception that the county doesn’t care enough about its rules to enforce them, thereby encouraging chronic violators to believe that their transgressions will go unpunished.
How is it possible for a part-time inspector in a 660-square-mile county to respond to 120 or so annual citizen complaints, identify non-compliant conditions, issue letters of violation, explain needed corrections, and follow-up with field visits, etc? Those duties are in addition to monitoring construction compliance with site plans and other permits and inspecting sediment and erosion control measures.
It is likely that CFFC members have noticed violations of the county’s zoning rules, such as utility sheds placed fewer than 15 feet from residential property lines. If you are among these members, please email your supervisor in support of a full-time zoning inspector, citing your experience as evidence of the need to budget for such a position. Attaching a photograph of the violation may be persuasive.
CFFC believes that the $34,300 addition to a multimillion-dollar budget demonstrates Fauquier’s respect for the law would yield benefits far in excess of the investment. Please help us make it a reality.
To contact your supervisor, go here: http://www.fauquiercounty.gov/government/boards-committees/board-of-supervisors/meet-the-board-members.