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Votes

LoGrande Gets a Break

Mount Vernon resident John LoGrande might get his garage, though the fate of his house is still in limbo.

LoGrande applied for a permit to build a garage on his property two years ago and has been involved in a tug-of-war with county officials over his home's height.

At a Dec. 8 meeting, the Planning Commission voted to recommend approving the garage.

The commission also recommended that the Board of Zoning Appeals grant LoGrande a variance for his house's height.

During the permitting process, county staff discovered that his house, which is in a floodplain, is technically seven inches too low to comply with county ordinance.

During the post-Hurricane Isabel floods, LoGrande's New Alexandria house remained dry while his neighbors' houses had feet of water in them.

Planning Commissioner John Byers (Mount Vernon) said the seven-inch discrepancy might have happened as the home settled over the years. He also thinks that county inspector would not have approved the home during its construction 25 years ago if it was not the correct height.

"I assume the builder knew what he was doing," Byers said. "I also assume that the county inspector knew what he was doing."

Planning Commissioner Jim Hart (at large) disagreed. Hart is also on the Board of Zoning Appeals and said that during their hearing on the matter he found that the county inspector does not check.

"It is apparently no one's job to do this," Hart said. "We rely on the builder. It's essentially the honor system."

Hart abstained from the vote at the Planning Commission. The Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to decide about the variance at the end of January.

The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision about the garage, but a date has not yet been scheduled.