BZA approves variance on Gwynn’s Island over residents’ objections

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jan 22, 2014 - 01:20 PM
Photo: These two buildings on Gwynn’s Island will be demolished, and their planned replacements are slated to house a kayak fabrication and sales business and a bed and breakfast facility since the owner’s request for a variance was approved on Jan. 8. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

These two buildings on Gwynn’s Island will be demolished, and their planned replacements are slated to house a kayak fabrication and sales business and a bed and breakfast facility since the owner’s request for a variance was approved on Jan. 8. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Over the objections of a large number of Gwynn’s Island residents who packed the historic courthouse on Jan. 8 for a public hearing, the Mathews County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a request for a variance for a business on Cricket Hill Road. The vote was 3-0, with Roger Gamble abstaining and Michael Rowe absent.
 
The variance grants Gary Goerss of Powhatan permission to increase the encroachment of a building at 1970 Cricket Hill Road within the 50-foot seaward part of the 100-foot RPA area by 31 square feet. The parcel is in the B-1 zoning district.
 
Goerss intends to use the property, which consists of two separate parcels, to offer week-long kayak construction classes on the first floor of the two buildings at the site. The existing buildings will be demolished, and their replacements will be connected at the second- and third-floor levels by open walkways, with workshop participants housed on the second floor and Goerss’s living quarters on the third. The buildings will also have office space and lounging 
areas.
 
This is the second time Goerss has requested a variance for the project. He came before the BZA in January 2010 with his request, and in 2011 was granted unanimous approval of a site plan to develop a parking area that would encroach into the 50-foot seaward part of the RPA. Planning and zoning director John Shaw pointed out that the public hearing for the first application had been properly advertised and that the joint property owners had been notified. He said additionally that kayak sales and fabrication facilities and bed and breakfasts are by-right uses in the B-1 zoning district and that an accessory structure can be built up to 50 feet in height by right.