Thursday, February 04, 2010

Augusta County shuts down Rocket Boys ... 9

Part 9: VAST presents case to Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals

See part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

On September 3, 2009, the Valley Aerospace Team members attended an Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing at the Augusta Government Center at 1:30 pm. The VAST timeline lays out the proceedings:
12. September 3, 2009 - VAST members assemble at the Augusta County Government Center at 1:30pm for the BZA meeting.
a. In addition to four (4) VAST BoD members, at least six (6) other VAST members are present. The landowner (Mr. Croft), two (2) local school teachers, the farmer who leases and farms a portion of the property (Mr. Schooley), and several others who had attended launches are also present to support us. Unfortunately, since the meeting starts at 1:30 pm during a school day, VAST's many youth members and supporters are unable to attend.

b. A total of eight (8) SUP applications are on the agenda. VAST is scheduled as #7 to be heard. The first six permits are decided upon within the first hour. VAST starts its presentation at 2:30 pm.

c. VAST gives an excellent presentation (which deals primarily with the issues raised in the staff report) and it appears to be well received by the Board. They ask lots of questions (for which VAST has the answers) and seem genuinely fascinated by VAST's activity. The only negative aspect the Board mentions is they feel VAST should have done a better job of communicating with the neighboring owners. VAST agrees and apologizes for not properly contacting the adjacent property owners.

d. VAST has numerous people speak on its behalf. Everyone does a great job pointing out the hobby's excellent and unparalleled safety history as well as the obvious educational values. They also express how family oriented VAST's activities are.

e. A number of people speak in opposition to VAST's request. Most feel our activity should not be allowed on agriculturally zoned property and justify it with concerns about noise and increased traffic. Some make unsupported claims of cattle being startled, explosions far off the property, and even an incident requiring the involvement of the local fire department (which is entirely false). It's the typical "not in my backyard" attitude with the usual arguments and no evidence to support it.

f. VAST is permitted a rebuttal period in which the concerns, issues, and claims brought by the opposition against the permit are addressed. VAST again apologizes for not making the proper contact with the neighboring property owners.
VAST completed its presentation and its members waited for the BZA vote.

Next -- Part 10: VAST is denied Special Use Permit by BZA.

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