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

Check here for the latest reports on news from Stafford County. You can email her at

RSS feed of this blog

Dogs and Cats Living Together! Mass Hysteria!

The ever-popular SPCA issue was on tonight’s Board of Supervisors agenda as a discussion item, and a dozen residents addressed the board during the public comment portion of the evening.

A quick background check: Bill Hoyt owns a piece of property off Andrew Chapel Road zoned agricultural, and he wants to build an SPCA there. He needs a conditional use permit to do it. Supervisors, feeling there is a need for an SPCA in Stafford, voted unanimously to act as applicant for Hoyt, thereby waiving his application fees (approx. $10,000, I’ve been told). The planning Commission reviewed the CUP and found it lacking. Some found Hoyt to be personally lacking in the honesty department (said he hadn’t actually incorporated the SPCA, was accepting donations when he said he wasn’t, etc…). The Planning Commission sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors asking them to consider retracting their support of the CUP. All the while, emails are flying behind the scenes that accuse Hoyt of all kinds of criminal and financial misdeeds (some of which, I’m also told, may indeed be true). Got all that?

So…back to tonight.

The board told the Planning Commission to take the CUP application back and make a recommendation to either approve or deny the permit as they are charged to do. The board did not withdraw their support of the CUP. It was a short, civil discussion.

 “A lot of allegations are being made,” Supervisor Harry Crisp said. “It is not proper for the board to make a decision based on hearsay. We need a recommendation to make a decision, and the Planning Commission needs to trust us to make our judgment.”

The motion to send the CUP back to the commission passed unanimously.

Of the citizens who spoke, none spoke in favor of the SPCA’s application. Supervisors mentioned that the pro-SPCA faction had mounted a serious e-mail campaign asking for their support. Hoyt was present at the meeting, but did not speak.

Despite the flap and political back-and-forth about Hoyt and his motives for opening the SPCA, the issue is, at its core, a traditional “not in my back yard” situation. Plenty of people near the property don’t want it, but plenty of animal lovers think the county could use an SPCA. The final decision will probably come down to whether commissioners think an SPCA can physically locate there, and whether supervisors think it is worth whatever inconvenience it may cause its neighbors.