vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Waiting Cats and Dogs

For those keeping score, the Planning Commission meeting did come to an end last night. Well, I left at about 12:05 a.m. and it hadn’t ended yet, but I doubt it went much longer. Perhaps someone can tell me if they’re still there. I’ve been wrong before.

The upshot of the public hearing on the SPCA conditional use permit: an always-popular deferral. The decision (4—3) came after approximately four and a half hours of questions, discussion and public comments. Seriously. I will now use my sharp skills of estimation and say that between 20 and 25 people addressed the board on either side of the issue. It was the largest crowd I’d ever seen in board chambers. True, I was not at the BPOL board session last year, but keep in mind that this was a Planning Commission meeting.

Essentially, the arguments came in two flavors. 1) Stafford desperately needs an SPCA and 2) Stafford desperately needs and SPCA somewhere else. Also essential were the dozens of questions raised by commissioners. Those will need to be answered before the CUP is considered again.

A sampling of the issues: the strength of the bridge on the access road, the width of the access road, who pays for improvements to the access road, the condition of the well, the condition of the drain fields, the (not-specific-enough) general design plan, the (as-of-yet nonexistent) nonprofit status of the (as-of-yet- nonexistent) SPCA.

Cecelia Kirkman amended the original motion to defer. First, the Board of Supervisors will be notified of the concerns raised by the public hearing to see it the board still wants to act as the applicant for the CUP. Second, the item will be revisited during the commission’s June 3 meeting. Commissioners Ken Mitchell, Mike Rhodes and Gordon Howard all felt like that was far too long to wait, but wait they will. Also waiting is Bill Hoyt, owner of the proposed SPCA property, and the dozens of SPCA supporters who came out in force.

I’m no scientist, but there seems to be a direct correlation between crowd size and the likelihood of deferral at local government meetings. Someone should look into that.


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