2006-04-26 / Front Page

Decision on Dellwood deferred

Zoning case attracts citizen watchdog and helicopter
By Greg Pearson

The special events business owned by a Chesterfield circuit court judge was treated in an uncourtly manner by citizen activist Brenda Stewart last week, helping to defer the decision on the Woodpecker Road business before the Planning Commission for another 60 days.

Judge Timothy J. Hauler and his wife were seeking a special use permit for 20.6 acres to continue their bed and breakfast and special events enterprise at Dellwood, the home and burial site of former U.S. Senator and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Winston Jones, who died in 1848.

In 2002 the Board of Zoning Appeals approved the Haulers' original request, but now the county requires such businesses be reviewed by the Planning Commission before a final decision by the Board of Supervisors.

There were several issues to be decided, and Matoaca Planning Commissioner Wayne Bass wanted separate votes on each. However, Assistant County Attorney Tara McGee said the issues couldn't be legally divided though the Planning Department disagreed. The legal issue caused the deferral.

Seated on the front row during the April 18 meeting, Hauler was subjected to a 30-minute litany of alleged legal deficiencies by Stewart, who cited chapter and verse of alleged violations in the operation of Dellwood thus far. She blamed the planning director, county administrator and county board for not enforcing the applicable regulations.

(Go to and click on "Special" to read the text of Stewart's remarks.)

Using a Virginia State Police helicopter, Chesterfield County had aerial photographs of alcohol being consumed on an additional six-acre tract not covered by the original special use permit. That parcel is adjacent to Matoaca High School and violates a county ordinance prohibiting alcohol consumption within 500 feet of a school.

Stewart alleged the ABC licenses were incorrectly applied by using the address of the bed and breakfast when the alcohol was consumed on other tracts with different addresses owned by Hauler.

She also complained about loud disc jockey entertainment at the events that ran after the 10 p.m. curfew. Stewart wanted the commission to reject the Haulers' special use permit request because of his "poor performance."

"The Haulers don't care, and he's a judge," added neighbor Edie Bleattler.

Attorney Richard Hairfield defended the Haulers' business, saying there had been no automobile accidents or arrests as a result of the special events. He said anyone at the high school would be unable to see what was going on during events because of the property's heavily wooded perimeter. Public comment period studied

In order to comply with a Virginia Supreme Court ruling late last year, the Planning Commission struck one of the existing restrictions regarding public comments procedures. Citizens are now not prohibited from making personal attacks, which the court called denying freedom of speech.

A study committee including commissioners Dan Gecker (Midlothian) and Russ Gulley (Clover Hill), along with four other high-level staffers, has been reviewing the procedures since November.

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