October 23, 2009
One of the observations of American culture in recent decades is that we seem to have thrown common sense out the window.
The problem the Howells have encountered recently is a perfect example of the wrong people being in positions of power, since they seem incapable of understanding how rules and regulations should be set aside when a situation arises where these regulations make no sense.
To make a very long and tedious story short, Warren and Carmen Howell subdivided their property, leaving one-and a half acres with one house on it, and another parcel of seven and a half acres where they want to put in a “green” house: A small energy efficient abode surrounded by the organic blueberries, blackberries and raspberries that Warren has been growing for the past few years, and the sculptures Carmen has created that punctuate the garden. They ordered the modular home, sent in the appropriate applications to the county, and expected a speedy response.
But wait!! They have divided their property. Therefore, this is a SUBDIVISION. And subdivisions require sidewalks between houses. The sidewalk has to be six feet wide if it is laid in with asphalt, and four feet wide if it is laid in with concrete.
This would appear reasonable for an in-town residence. The Howells, however, don’t live in an incorporated town and they don’t live on a paved road. The sidewalk would connect to no other sidewalk because Allder School Road doesn’t have any sidewalks. The Chesterfield Subdivision up the road doesn’t have any sidewalks. Mountain View Elementary doesn’t even have a sidewalk along the road. It would, in fact, be very foolish and wasteful to put a sidewalk along a dirt road because when the road is paved – and it will be – it will obliterate the sidewalk! The Howells have offered to substitute an environmentally friendly material for asphalt to no avail. To add insult to injury, several beautiful, mature Colorado Blue Spruce Trees would have to be cut down to make way for the seemingly unnecessary sidewalk.
These very sensible objections seem to have no effect on the zoning administrator. Rules, after all, are rules. If the degree of the county’s recalcitrance is proportionate to the lack of political influence with which the county deals then we need to take a much better look at the people who are making these decisions before the next election.
For now, the retirement home is on hold, and the Howells have run out of ways to present their case to the county. If you feel this is an injustice please let your voice be heard at the Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting on November 19, 2009.
It isn’t easy being green in Loudoun County.