Resident concerned over permit to demolish shared pier

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jul 02, 2013 - 02:38 PM

Photo: Mathews residents Brian and Dee Russell are worried that a pier they share with an adjoining vacant lot will be demolished without their permission. Shown is Dee Russell. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Mathews residents Brian and Dee Russell are worried that a pier they share with an adjoining vacant lot will be demolished without their permission. Shown is Dee Russell. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Mathews resident Dee Russell has a bone to pick with the Mathews County Planning Department and the county administrator.

Speaking at the June 25 meeting of the board of supervisors, Russell asked that the county attorney be consulted to give an opinion on a permit issued by Planning and Zoning Director John Shaw. The permit would allow Russell’s neighbors to demolish and rebuild a pier that Russell and her husband, Brian, share with those neighbors. She said she objects to issuance of the permit and had asked County Administrator Mindy Moran to consult the county attorney on the matter, but Moran had refused.

Board chair Edwina Casey told Russell that she had to get her own attorney to address the matter, since the issue involved a private property dispute that was a civil matter, not a county problem.

But Russell said that by issuing a permit with no proof that the pier belonged to the applicant, the county had allowed that person to "circumvent the civil system you’re telling me is required of me."

"Who do citizens go to if they believe the county administrator has erred or if they’re getting no feedback from the county administrator?" asked Russell.

"The board," said Casey, adding that Russell’s three minutes to speak were up.

During a subsequent interview, Russell explained that she and her husband were aware that there is a civil ownership issue associated with the dispute, and said they have an attorney handling the matter for them. But they said they provided evidence to Shaw that calls into question the right of her neighbors to seek a permit, and they believe he should have voided the permit once he received that evidence.