TROUTVILLE – Dennis and Robin Edwards asked Troutville Town Council at a Dec. 21 meeting for a rehearing on the couple’s rejected zoning request citing miscommunication between them and town officials.
The Edwardses, through their real estate agent, Richard Scherrep, said they were unaware of the conditional use permit/special exception permit hearing at a Nov. 16 meeting. At the meeting, both the town’s planning commission and council voted to deny the Edwards permission to park a recreational vehicle on Valley Road while they construct a house on the same plot of land.
During the November meeting, Mayor David Horton said he wishes the couple attended to explain their plans. At the town’s December meeting, Scherrep told council the Edwardses were never informed of the November meeting and would have attended if they’ve known. He continued the couple thought they would receive a phone call or a mailed letter from the town about the hearing date; instead, they found their request was denied in The Fincastle Herald.
The mayor said by law the town is required to print a hearing notice in the newspaper, which appeared in the Nov. 4 edition of The Fincastle Herald. “We don’t get the paper,” replied Dennis Edwards.
Throughout the 40-minute discussion, council members said if the Edwardses did attend the meeting salient questions could have been answered. However, council doubts the outcome would have been any different, because the Edwardses cannot provide a timeline for the completion of their house. “It would have been 12 months or five years,” said Councilmember Granville Grant.
When Grant asked for a timeline, neither Scherrep nor the Edwardses gave an answer.
“All the Edwardses wants is a rehearing,” the agent said. “A rehearing where they can answer your questions.”
The Edwardses said the land cost about one-third of their retirement savings and if they cannot live in the RV, they will sell the land. They are currently living in a nearby apartment.
Scherrep explained the RV is a new model and meets all current laws and safety regulations. He explained living in an RV is a growing trend across the county, citing a full-time RV living park in Giles County, Va. and on the West Coast.
“I don’t think if they were at the [November] hearing and meeting the outcome would have been different,” said Councilmember Dean Paderick, who had two conversations with Scherrep about the probability of a special exception permit before the November council meeting. Scherrep, who is with Century 21 in Roanoke, said he called the county five and six times, left phone messages with the zoning and planning department, but “every time I spoke with a different person, I got a different answer. I got six different answers, six different times,” he told council.
Currently, the town’s zoning codes don’t address RV living, explained Paderick, which is why a special exception permit is needed. The town is in the midst of updating its decade-old zoning code.
During the discussion, the Edwardses were visibly upset; Robin Edwards exited the meeting room crying, saying the council ruined the couple’s retirement. Dennis Edwards left the meeting frustrated, saying the council has “backwards ideas” and need to be “more progressive.” Scherrep just stood at the podium pleading the couple’s case, “All they are asking for is a chance to tell their side of the story,” he said. “If at the end of the day our asses are chapped, our asses are chapped.”
Council asked the town’s attorney, Stephen Wills, to look into if another zoning hearing could be scheduled. Wills said he would investigate, but believes a zoning request can only be heard once every 12 months.