Attorney files suit over rezoning

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County now faces a lawsuit over the recent rezoning for a Dollar General next to Bryce Resort.

The Broadway Group LLC, RL Regis-Virginia LLC and Chandresh S. Mehta applied to the county to rezone two parcels at 1460 Orkney Grade, Basye, from high-density residential to general business use. The applicants sought the rezoning to “construct and operate a small commercial retail store selling a wide variety of goods,” the complaint states. Documents filed with the county indicate the applicants want to build a Dollar General on the property.

The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors held a joint public hearing on the rezoning April 5. The commission recommended the board deny the rezoning request. Supervisors later voted to approve the rezoning despite hearing vocal opposition from neighbors.

Woodstock attorney Bradley Pollack filed a complaint May 24 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on behalf of Paul Brice, owner of property on The Hill Road, adjacent to the proposed store site, alleging that the county failed to notify him in writing of the proposed rezoning. The county also failed to follow several state rules pertaining to public hearing advertisements. The lawsuit names the Board of Supervisors as respondents.

“Brice prays that this Court find that Defendant Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors acted outside the authority granted by the General Assembly as set forth above and declare void ab initio the purported rezoning of two parcels of land at 1460 Orkney Grade, in the village of Basye …” the complaint states.

Pollack seeks a jury trial. County Attorney Jason Ham, of the Harrisonburg firm of Little and Sipe, had not been served the complaint, according to court records. Supervisors met with Ham in closed session on Tuesday to talk about the legal challenge.

Should the court rule in Brice’s favor, the developers could file another application to rezone the property and the process would start over.

Brice’s father, the late Paul B. Brice, established Bryce Resort, which is next to the rezoned property.

The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors were to hold at least one public hearing on the proposed amendment to the county zoning ordinance, the complaint notes. Virginia code requires that public notice must state the density range of the proposed amendment and general use and density range, if any set forth in the applicable part of the comprehensive plan.

“The public notice fails to state the density range of the proposed amendment, and fails to state the general usage and density range set forth in the applicable part of the comprehensive plan,” the complaint notes.

Virginia law also requires that the advertisement refer to places where the public can examine copies of the proposed plans, ordinances or amendments.

“The advertisement for the proposed zoning amendment in this matter does not contain such a reference,” the complaint states.

Virginia code requires the county to provide written notices to owners, their agents or occupants of all abutting property. The plaintiff owns abutting property but did not receive written notice, the complaint claims. The county could have complied with this requirement by sending a notice by registered or certified mail to the last known address of the owner as shown in current real estate tax assessment books or records. The lawsuit states that the county did not send notice to anyone by registered or certified mail. State law allows a government agency to send notices via first-class mail provided that a representative makes an affidavit affirming that action. No one filed such an affidavit.

Brice did not receive notice, nor could actively participate in the April 5 hearing, Pollack contends.