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Lawsuit filed against Crescere, board

Lawsuit filed against Crescere, board

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Crescere, formerly known as Ken-Walt, is located on Route 231 in the Uno area of Madison County, a few miles from Somerset. 

Not so fast, say two Rochelle residents regarding the county board of supervisor’s recent approval of a special use permit (SUP) to create an agritourism resort on Rt. 231.

Raceground Road residents William and Christina Rother have filed a complaint for a declaratory judgement against the supervisors, property owner Crystallis, LLC and Crescere Resort which seeks to make the SUP invalid.

In August, the board approved a SUP to allow for the creation of a rural resort or event venue on a 762 acre property off Rt. 231 in Uno. The property, formerly known as Ken-Walt Farm and renamed Crescere, is owned by Orange resident Barbara Miller via Crystallis, LLC. Miller’s SUP covers seven parcels with a total of approximately 749.3 acres and consists of a variety of buildings including a spa, welcome center, restaurant and cottages, plus glamping and camping sites.

The SUP was a hot topic among neighbors, with a public hearing that lasted seven hours featuring approximately 140 pages of letters regarding the planned resort as well as several speakers. The bulk of both said the SUP needed more specificity. However, it was ultimately approved 5-0.

The Rothers’ complaint alleges that approval was improper and violates both the zoning ordinance and Virginia Code and should be voided “ab initio” or “from the beginning.”

“The lack of specificity provided in the SUP application for the various ‘uses’ allows the owner/operator of the project property to implement whatever uses and in whatever fashion they want at the project property with its event venue,” the complaint reads.

The complaint alleges that notification for the Aug. 5 public hearing was incomplete with many adjacent landowners not notified, which goes against both Virginia Code and the county’s zoning ordinance. The first public hearing on the matter scheduled for July 1 was postponed due to an issue with notice not being sent to Orange County Administration, but county planner Ligon Webb said the issue was corrected for the rescheduled hearing.

The Rothers claim the SUP also goes against 14-4-2 of the zoning ordinance which states applications may be granted when the use is in harmony with the intent of the zoning district and does not adversely affect the use of neighboring property of the welfare of those living and working in the neighborhood of the proposed use. The article also states that the application has to compy with the standard that the height of buildings and locations of fences, screening, etc. will not hinder or discourage the appropriate use and development of adjacent land and buildings or impair the value of them. The complaint states the SUP will do just that and affect or hinder the use of adjacent properties, including the Rothers’ farm. The complaint also states the application did not include a thorough explanation of the score and variety of the buildings, land improvements and uses nor did it include the specifics of them, both of which are included in the zoning ordinance article 12-18.4.

The Rothers state in the complaint they will be negatively impacted and harmed by the development of the resort and their use and quiet enjoyment of their property will be impaired.

The complaint states the SUP should be void with all work related to the development ceased. The complaint also asks that the court award plaintiffs such costs as deemed proper and just.

The complaint was filed Friday afternoon. No response has been issued.

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