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

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BZA: No building permit allowed in Crow’s Nest Harbour

A plan for development at Crow’s Nest Harbour in eastern Stafford County may be headed to the courts. The Board of Zoning Appeals denied an appeal Tuesday for a building permit application on one of the lots that fronts Raven Road.

Though nearly 2,000 acres was subdivided in the 1970s, nothing was ever built in the area that borders what is now Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve. Joe Samaha, who owns lot 49D-C-117 through Five Cedars LLC, has an application to build what could be the first house in the subdivision. A handful of limited liability corporations now own most of the 350 lots.

But the county denied a building permit to Samaha, saying the lot must be connected to public water and sewer. (Here’s the staff report.) The BZA upheld that denial.

“Needless to say this is a very complex application here,” said BZA chairman Bob Gibbons. “No matter what decision this board makes tonight, this’ll end up in the court process one way or another.”

“He’s kind of asking us to step in the middle of it,” BZA member Larry Ingalls said.

The 2.2-acre lot, zoned rural residential, is outside the county’s Urban Services Area, so there are no plans to extend the infrastructure to the area. A 1978 downzoning made the lots ineligible for water and sewer. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health has approved a permit for well and septic. But the county said there are only two ways for the building permit application to pass a zoning review: to petition the Board of Supervisors to vacate the note on the plat, or contract with an engineer to design plans and construct the required infrastructure, according to the staff report.

Attorney Mark Jenkins, who spoke at the BZA hearing, said these conditions are erroneous. A 1995 court order maintains the Board of Supervisors should use an original developer’s securities to install necessary infrastructure by 2015, if developers do not. Here’s a letter Jenkins wrote to the BZA, and a chronology of the Crow’s Nest Harbour.

(Earlier this year, Samaha and other LLCs signed a petition to the Planning Commission to ask for a transfer of development rights program. Commissioners said OK last week, and if the Board of Supervisors agrees this fall, development could be moved voluntarily from Crow’s Nest Harbour to denser areas.)

After the hearing, Jenkins said, “I’m not shocked.” He said it’s likely that Samaha will take the appeal to the county’s circuit court.