Zoning Upheld

Zoning Upheld

Supervisors reverse vote, dry cleaning facility wins.

Dry Clean Depot now can locate a dry cleaning facility in a Sterling neighborhood shopping center against the wishes of the Board of Supervisors.

“This stinks,” said Supervisor Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge).

In December 2002, the board voted 8-1 to overturn the zoning administrator’s decision that allowed the dry cleaning facility to locate in the future Augusta Center, as permitted according to the usages listed in the county’s zoning ordinance. The facility is proposed as a 6,500-square-foot store with six checkout counters. “I don’t think what the board voted to do was legally the right thing. The board had to reverse its position,” said Supervisor James Burton (I-Mercer), who gave the one negative vote at the Dec. 2 meeting.

On Feb. 26, the board rescinded its Dec. 2 vote and upheld the zoning administrator’s decision in an effort to save litigation costs. The developer for Dry Clean Depot sued the Board of Supervisors, Loudoun County, the Westerley Homeowners Association, Richland Acres and several residents who spoke against the facility’s locating in the shopping center. The board’s vote dismisses the case from Loudoun County Circuit Court.

Supervisor William Bogard (R-Sugarland Run) was included in the defendant's list on claims he had aspired to stir up opposition beyond his duties as supervisor, Burton said.

“I would prefer to fight this out,” Bogard said. “We seriously owe the citizens some time. I have difficulty with the nature of the suit itself. Suing citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights is [not] the right thing to do.”

“I too am disappointed in this and disheartened,” said Supervisor Charles Harris (C-Broad Run), adding that the board needs to tighten the zoning ordinance to avoid future “unreasonable intents.”

“I would like to fix it so this kind of thing can’t happen again,” Towe said. “Unfortunately we can’t do anything for these folks. It breaks our hearts. … It’s right there. Our zoning ordinance puts us in a box.”

The board approved the resolution regarding Dry Clean Depot with a 6-3 vote with Bogard, Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) and Chairman Scott York (R-At large) voting against. The resolution directs the zoning administrator to issue permits for Dry Clean Depot to locate at the Augusta Center, which is located near Route 7 and Augusta Drive.

<1b>— Shelley Widhalm