Board of Zoning Appeals upholds city zoning in Wawa

Officials with Tiger Fuel attempted yesterday to overturn a decision by the city’s zoning administrator that affects the future layout of a proposed Wawa on Fifth Street Extended. This one gets a little technical. 

“The applicant contends that the prescribed front setback for gas stations in Section 34-931(h) of the zoning ordinance are more lenient than the front setbacks for structures in the Highway Zoning district,” said Genevieve Keller, the chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals. 

Keller said that Tiger Fuel believed Zoning Administrator Read Brodhead should have used Section 34-738 instead. Tiger operates a convenience store immediately to the south. The details are way above most people.

“It’s a little complicated, I know,” Brodhead said. 

Gordon Sutton, president of Tiger Fuel, tried to simplify the argument.

“We are asking you to determine which of the two standards is more restrictive,” Sutton said. “The Highway Commercial regulations or the gas station regulations.” 

Sutton said the highway commercial zonings should apply, and he said his company has had to work under those rules in the past. 

Attorney Valerie Long with Williams Mullen represented the property owner, RBD Bent Creek LLC. 

“Virginia code specifically provides that the Board is to presume that Mr. Brodhead’s determination is correct and that the appellant, Tiger Fuel, has the burden of proof of proving otherwise,” Long said. 

Long’s letter to the Board of Zoning Appeals included a section of the state code governing the appeals process (read the letter)

Long said their scope of review was solely whether Brodhead was correct.

“This is not the appropriate venue for a business owner to be attempting to stifle competition from a prospective business owner or property owner,” Long said. 

Long said the zoning rules for gas stations are written specifically to safely govern such a use, and that Tiger Fuel’s interpretation was not germane. 

After a public hearing and brief discussion, the BZA voted unanimously to uphold Brodhead’s determination. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the June 17, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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