Cathy Dyson writes about King George County.
Supervisors approve controversial rezoning by Bayberry Estates
With a split decision, the King George Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to proceed with a controversial plan to rezone a parcel of land along U.S. 301 in Dahlgren from agricultural to commercial.
The majority of board members—Chairman Joe Grzeika, Dale Sisson Jr. and Jim Howard—voted for the rezoning in front of Bayberry Estates subdivision, saying they believe the developer changed the proposal enough to allay concerns of nearby residents.
Developer Jay Jarrell asked that a smaller parcel of 5.8 acres, instead of 6.7 acres, be rezoned, leaving a strip of land next to the subdivision that would remain in agricultural zoning. If nearby property Jarrell owns is turned into a subdivision, as planned, that strip of land would remain as open green space.
Jarrell also asked that the parcel be rezoned to a less industrial type of zoning known as retail commercial. He originally asked for general trade zoning.
“You have a developer who has listened and made changes to try to accommodate what we’ve heard,” Grzeika said, adding that commercial property is “the highest and best use” for the U.S. 301 corridor because it generates the most tax revenue.
On the topic of money, Supervisor Ruby Brabo was against the rezoning because the Bayberry residents have said repeatedly they don’t want it—and because the developer’s sole purpose in acquiring the rezoning is to make more money. Jarrell told the board he plans to sell the property, and Brabo pointed out that he’s already listed the parcel and didn’t take an offer to buy it because he hoped to get a better one with it rezoned.
“For this board to be party to that is an issue,” Brabo said. “To simply help him make a bigger financial gain and profit on his property, I feel is an issue.”
Grzeika agreed with that point, but said that the board’s job is to deal with rezoning issues, not determine how much money someone makes in a deal.
Supervisor Dale Sisson Jr. said people weren’t hearing “the full story” on the proposal. He said the board had listened to the concerns of residents—about increased traffic, noise and the impact on the quality of life—and that the changes to the proposal addressed those.
Sisson also said the property in question has been bracketed by commercial development for decades. Currently, there’s a bank on one side, a gas station on another and an office park nearby. He said the parcel proposed for rezoning is an “oddity” because it’s not commercially zoned.
Supervisor Cedell Brooks Jr. voted against the rezoning. He made no comments on Tuesday but said in a previous meeting that he didn’t support the action because the residents were against it.
He voted with Brabo to send the matter back to the Planning Commission, given the changes that had been proposed.
But the rest of the board voted against that, and the motion failed.
For the third supervisors’ meeting in a row, Bayberry residents turned out in force and voiced their opposition to the rezoning.
Pearl Smith, the first resident in Bayberry, which is the oldest subdivision in King George, asked the supervisors to consult with its Planning Commission again, given the changes in the proposal. Faron Kendale asked that “before you give a decision that you actually give it some thought.”
Ramona Shields said a lot of residents have taken time to learn about the proposals and can’t understand the “hidden agenda” behind the board wanting to rezone this property.
“What is so, so important that these people have that property, that parcel? What is it that you are so bent on doing?” she asked.
Nickie Gustavus said the board would be setting a precedent with the rezoning, and Miguel Martinez wondered why the board would “weigh the profits of one company versus the voting concerns of the citizens.”