A contentious and long-standing debate is now being reviewed by planning commissioners in Richmond County after dozens of regional residents came to a public input session last week to discuss pier zoning.
On Feb. 10, over a dozen people signed up to speak about the issues surrounding the county’s ordinances restricting the length of piers and docks along the Rappahannock River.
At issue is a divergence between Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s (VMRC) code regarding acceptable pier construction and size and what Richmond County has deemed appropriate.
According to the VMRC, all piers must be built out to where the water depth is a minimum of 3 feet deep. In Richmond County, however, an ordinance is in place that restricts pier lengths to 150 feet, often precluding a pier from being built if the depth of the water not meeting state requirements.
The issue recently came to a head after developer Terrell Bowers sought approval for a community pier along his planned 45-lot subdivision on Fones Cliffs, an area known as a bald eagle habitat with pristine lands.
In order for Bowers to put in his pier, which he said was part of plans approved by the county years ago, he would have to build out to 220 feet in order to meet the minimal VMRC standards of water depth.
It is a proposal that has pitted citizens from both sides of the river against each other, with one group saying that the pier would not only be an eyesore, but also environmentally unhealthy and unsafe for boaters and other water goers while the other group claims that any infringement on their rights would not only devalue their property but also go against state code, to which is all they are looking to adhere.
Noting that the code has been on the books since 1994…
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