Board denies permit for B&B, cabins

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County supervisors denied a couple’s request for a permit to open a bed-and-breakfast in Quicksburg.

Matthew and Donna Griffin had applied for a special-use permit to open a business at 183 Quicksburg Mill Lane that would include a bed-and-breakfast, a camp with cabins and a log home for seasonal rental, a modified rural resort and a septic drain field. The 21-acre property lies near Ridge Road.

The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors held a joint public hearing Nov. 6. The commission voted to recommend that the board approve the permit request. But not all supervisors supported the couple’s pursuit.

Vice Chairman Conrad Helsley and Supervisors John R. “Dick” Neese and Steve Baker voted Tuesday in favor of approving the special-use permit. Chairman David Ferguson and Supervisors Cindy Bailey and Marsha Shruntz voted against the request. The motion failed with the tie-vote.

Ferguson made a motion to approve the permit with the condition that the owners move business traffic from an existing, private road to an alternative access route. Shruntz supported the motion but Bailey suggested the property owners go back to the drawing board, work on the access road issue and return to the commission.

Helsley, Neese and Bailey voted against Ferguson’s motion. Ferguson, Shruntz and Baker voted in favor of the motion.

Brandon Davis, director of the Office of Community Development, reminded the board that, per county guidelines, the Griffins must wait a year before they can refile their special-use permit application.

Ferguson, Shruntz and Bailey voiced concerns about the access road into the proposed business. Shruntz and Bailey indicated that they had no problem with the road if it only involved the bed-and-breakfast. Bailey suggested the board separate the bed-and-breakfast from the other business aspects and work with neighbors on the latter.

Part of the access road is on the right-of-way owned by a railroad company that creates legal issues, Ferguson said. Should the railroad no longer allow the use of that road, the business owners would need to find alternate access points.

Ferguson said he encouraged the Griffins to come back to the county with plans that show they would build a different access road that does not use the railroad right-of-way.

Neese said he didn’t think a bed-and-breakfast would generate that much traffic.

“But I also don’t think that the county should be dictating to the owners how they should go to and from the property as long as the permit has already been established,” Neese said.

The board asks various agencies to weigh in on permit requests, Helsley said. The Virginia Department of Transportation has determined that the business traffic would not measurably affect the surrounding roads.

“But we have to stop at where we have right-of-way and this is a private road, so how a business gets the people to their property really isn’t the county’s business,” Helsley said. “It sort of seems to me like we overstep our bounds when we take that, we look at, well, they don’t have a right-of-way from the railroad, they don’t have an agreement with the neighbors, that’s not our problem.”

Ferguson agreed with Helsley in part, but then said he has to think of the effect the business and the access road might have on neighbors.

Davis reminded the board that it can put special conditions on the permit to mitigate the impacts the business might have on neighbors. Davis said the board could include as a condition that the proprietor cannot build the cabins or that owners would need to build a new access road on an easement purchased years ago.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com