Batesville Store Closing

Batesville Store
The Batesville store. Photo by Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow / CC

In an e-mail to their mailing list, the Batesville Store has announced that they’re going out of business, immediately. Despite their name, it’s definitely more of a restaurant/concert venue than a store, and that’s apparently the problem. As Jessica Jaglois reports for CBS-19, country stores are limited to seating for fifteen people, and the Batesville Store has seating for north of forty. The store’s owners say that the Department of Health told them that they had to cut it down to fifteen, and they’re responding by closing down. Presumably their other two choices are to just change their classification to “restaurant” or cut down to fifteen seats, but I have to imagine that neither of those options are financially feasible.

Inside Batesville Store
The interior of the Batesville Store. Photo by Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow / CC

Although I don’t know about the state, I know that the purpose of the county maintaining “country store” as a business classification is to give them certain breaks to ensure their continued existence. But that requires actually fulfilling the functions of a country store, a definition that led to some debate on the Board of Supervisors a few years ago. Charlottesville Tomorrow’s coverage from back then is well worth reading for anybody who is interested in the specifics of the topic.

It’s not clear that a straight-up country store is a viable business model anymore. Here in Stony Point, Bobbi’s Grocery turned into Grand Junction five years ago, and crowded aisles with every product you might need have given way to a deli counter, wine racks, and occasional live music. But in Free Union, Maupin’s hasn’t changed since when I’d get off the school bus there as a kid to buy a Chocola and a Snickers—they’ve still got the necessities that can obviate a drive to town. Over the mountain, Cismont Market is a mix of the two—a bunch of aisles for the basics, but also a deli. I don’t know how far the pendulum has to swing away from country store and towards restaurant before a business should no longer enjoy the benefits of the “country store” definition, but apparently the Batesville Store is seen as over the line, at least by the Department of Health.

70 Responses to “Batesville Store Closing”


  • Way to go State of Virginia, let’s add a few more the the unemployment rolls.

    To be quite frank, this is stupidity at its finest and unacceptable. Unfortunately for the residents of Western Albemarle, Landes and Hanger are too busy in Verona and Mount Solon to make it this side of the mountain to do any work.

  • This is a real shame. I’m a northern Albemarle resident, but stumbled upon the Batesville Store when we moved here five years ago. We still make it down there quite a bit, as the drive out is beautiful and the food is really very good. Even with the addition of two kids, it’s a great place to go with the kids’ toys and puzzles in the corner. We were just there last Sunday and despite the heat, I still talked myself into chicken pot pie and macaroni and cheese, both of which were fantastic.

  • Matthew Swaringen

    Why do we need these regulators again? It’s regulators that should be unemployed, not people earning an honest living.

  • There’s a creative way around just about any regulation our feebleminded legislators can think up. Sublet the space with the tables to a coffee shop set up under an llc and run the rest of the space as a general store, letting folks walk their food over into the other space to eat it. Something like that? Closing up shop without a fight makes me think there’s more to this.

  • I’ve never been down to the Batesville Store before. When the venue is crowded, is there a safety issue in terms of too many people in a place not built for that many people?

  • There’s some more information in the Progress that’s useful:

    Scallet said that a combination of historic and zoning regulations would make becoming a licensed restaurant nearly impossible.

    “We’ve run into a catch-22 here,” he said.

    He said that if the store tried to operate with only 15 seats it’d be “broke in a week.”

    There are a bunch of of health and safety regulations that are waived for country stores. (Sewage requirements, for instance, I’m pretty sure are very different for country stores.) The problem here is that with seating for sixty (according to the owner) they’re really a restaurant, but they want to qualify—apparently they have to qualify, economically—as a country store. It’s a restaurant in a country store.

    I can appreciate both sides here. From the perspective of the owners, and from the community’s perspective, they’re performing a larger good, and they simply want to be able to continue to do so. But from the state’s perspective, they’ve got a business that wants the benefits of being in a category that they’re simply not in. I mean, I might like to have my land classified as an Indian Reservation, but it’s not. :) They might like to be classified as a country store, but they’re not a country store, at least under the state’s definition.

    What I think would be helpful to everybody is to find out what the specific differences are in the regulation of the two entities and, more important, why those differences exist. After all, country stores are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, and restaurants are regulated by the Department of Health. I speculate that the Department of Agriculture is simply not equipped to inspect restaurants. There has to be some line between “country store” and “restaurant,” and as arbitrary as “15 seats” might be, they’ve got to draw the line somewhere. (I’m reminded of when I criticized a member of the General Assembly a year or so ago for introducing a bill that would prohibit “farm use” plates on any vehicle other than pickups. He responded that a study by the DMV found that there were no legitimate farm use vehicles in the state other than pickups. Touché.) If the Department of Agriculture simply doesn’t have the ability or even the power to test prepared food for bacterial contamination, then I can understand why they would need to hand off a venue like this to the Department of Health…which then requires that the store meet all kinds of new standards as a restaurant, what with being a restaurant.

    I suspect that the state will need to recognize that there are a bunch of places like the Batesville Store that straddle the line between restaurant and country store, and that the physical structure of a country store cannot meet the standards required for a restaurant. Now, what the state would probably say is that the solution is not to put a restaurant in a substandard structure, but I think that there’s a good argument to be made that the new role of country stores has to include a dining function, because that’s what allows them to remain in business, functioning as a hub of small, rural communities. Assuming that it’s possible for such a business to occupy that space in a way that doesn’t pose a danger to the health of its patrons, then I think the state ought to figure out how to accommodate them.

  • I’ve never been down to the Batesville Store before. When the venue is crowded, is there a safety issue in terms of too many people in a place not built for that many people?

    I’ve only been there a few times, and only once since Mrs. Scallet took over (she was a teacher at my high school—I can’t see calling her anything other than “Mrs. Scallet.” :) I tried to go one other time, but there was simply no place to park—their lot was full, and the road was full of cars that had pulled over to park on the grass. But when I did go there, it was absolutely packed, to the point where it was tough to get out of my seat and maneuver to get my food. I was just glad to have a chair, which was more than some people had. I’m not complaining—I had a good time, I enjoyed the music, the food, and the company—but it was definitely crowded.

    Also, I’ve been looking through the Virginia Administrative Code and the Virginia Register of Regulations, but I can’t find anything specifically about country stores. Hopefully somebody can turn something up.

  • I’m grateful for strict state regulations on the production of food for public consumption. Restaurant owners should be too. It’s food and health laws that create the public’s confidence to consume food in a public venue.

  • I guess the creek is the problem. All of downtown Batesville runs along a creek and no one can put in new septic drain fields. Restaurants have very high needs for sewage, mainly due to grease. That’s why there is only one restaurant in Ivy, and it is grandfathered in. Ivy businesses are not allowed to tie into the sewage pipe passing there (the “Crozet interceptor”), because the negotiations to build it specified no connections between Crozet & Cville. Correct me if I’m wrong on any of this.

    You can spend a lot of money to do sewage other ways.

  • Is the one restaurant in Ivy Duner’s, or is there another? I’m not as familiar with Ivy as I should be.

  • The Newsplex has updated their story, including a link to a new communication from the Batesville Store owners.

  • Between the law and the greater public good I hope there could be some accommodation but I don’t think so.
    The store will be missed

  • Yep. Duners is grandfathered in, and I think they may also pay for extra pickups or whatever.

  • I wonder what sort of ABC permit they had: rural grocery with special permission for “substantial demand” for on-premises wine/beer consumption?

    I mean, since it was a “restaurant.”

  • That’s a pretty good question, Walt.

  • I can’t find any record of their ABC license. Which I don’t understand, because their website specifically mentions the sale of beer and wine. I looked up Grand Junction (in Stony Point) and Maupin Brothers (in Free Union), which have ABC On and ABC Off permits, respectively, and they’re both listed properly. Unfortunately, I’m not smart enough to know what to make of the Batesville Store’s absence.

  • 46906 – active license.

    Enter Batesville in the City field and it pops right up.

  • Thank you, Jeff—I’d been searching for the name “Batesville,” which yields nothing, strangely. It hadn’t occurred to me that Batesville might be classified as a city. :)

    Their license classifies them as a restaurant, for ABC On/Off. Compare that to Grand Junction, also an ABC On country store, which is classified as a grocery store. On the ABC’s license types page, they explain that the “Wine and Beer On and Off Premises” permit (which both Grand Junction and the Batesville Store have) is limited to restaurants, hotels, tax-exempt private clubs, and rural grocery stores—for rural grocery stores, there must be “substantial public demand for public convenience.”

    I’m not sure what it means that they’re classified by the ABC as a restaurant, as opposed to a rural grocery store—they’re both in the same classification, both cost $600. On the application for a license (PDF), from pages 13-14, they define each type of establishment. They define a restaurant as as:

    An establishment provided with special space and accommodations regularly selling meals or other foods that are prepared and consumed on the premises. For the sale of wine and beer on premises, and the sale of wine and beer on- and off-premises, a restaurant must have minimum monthly food sales of $2,000 of which $1,000 must be in the form of meals with entrees. For the sale of beer on-premises and the sale of beer on- and off-premises, a restaurant must have monthly food sales of $2,000.

    And they define a grocery store as:

    An establishment selling edible items intended for human consumption, including a variety of staple foodstuffs used in the preparation of meals. For the sale of wine and beer off-premises, a grocery store must have minimum monthly food sales of $2,000 and food inventory (cost) of $2,000 of the required commodities listed in the definition. For the sale of beer off- premises, a grocery store must have minimum monthly food sales of $1,000 and food inventory (cost) of $1,000 of the required commodities listed in the definition.

    From my lone visit to the Batesville Store, I’m not sure that they do sell “a variety of staple foodstuffs used in the preparation of meals,” but I do know that they are in the business of selling “selling meals or other foods that are prepared and consumed on the premises,” which would probably help to explain their classification as a restaurant by the ABC.

    The ABC is not the same as the Department of Health or the Department of Agriculture, and their classification system is quite likely not the same as the classification system used by those two agencies. (Though perhaps it should be!) But I do think that it’s interesting that, at least for the purpose of the ABC, they were classified as a restaurant, and not a grocery store.

  • Cid’s brother is a very accomplished attorney in DC. Just FYI. He and some local friends might be able to shred the Virginia laws to find a reprieve (if so desired) but finding a sustainable solution might involve some compromise.

  • “Country store”, “restaurant” – what horse dung. If the state says a dog is a bicycle, it’s a bicycle until the legislature or the courts say otherwise. The fact is that once again, common sense and the good of the community have been overridden by people who write rules with no idea of what they’re regulating or what the effects of those regs will be. The mindset of your typical bureaucrat is 90% self-preservation, 10% service – if you’re lucky. Farewell, Batesville store. I only knew you since January of this year, and will miss you dearly. Thanks for all the good times, Cid.

  • Matthew Swaringen

    “It’s food and health laws that create the public’s confidence to consume food in a public venue.”

    Nonsense, we lived for generations without these nonsensical laws. It’s called having trust in other people. They aren’t out to harm you just because they are interested in running a business and making money.

    It’s decades of statist lies that have convinced people that merchants and vendors are their enemy, and the government monopoly of force is their friend. So people imagine that saints work in government to make all life better and that business is out to get them.

    Ironically these regulations lead to cartelization, as big businesses are much better able to handle the changes, have better connections to politicians and are able to lobby for the best fit for them while simultaneously hurting small businesses and individual choice.

  • Where did we come up with the idea that one group of human beings can control and destroy, at their whim they call “the Law”, another human being’s life? What a farce this system of law has become. These bureaucrats and the parasites who make these “laws” deserve to be laughed at, and ridiculed. But what do they care: as long as they can legally steal our wealth to live and control us they don’t care what we think. They pretend they do.The laugh is really on us because we remain ignorant of the true nature of the state and gullible to the idea that without the state and its hordes of “selfless”,”rational” bureaucrats we’d run amok. It seems obvious though it is the state, the political elite and their minions who are running amok.

  • One thing that Waldo touched on slightly, is that when that place is hopping busy, the road is not safe. There is very little parking. And with the cars parking half in the road and half on the grassy shoulder, its really unsafe. Add bicyclists and walkers, it becomes an accident waiting to happen. There is not enough safe and reasonable parking for a restaurant with seating for 60.

  • “Nonsense, we lived for generations without these nonsensical laws.”

    Capitalism is still, by far, the best game in town. But like all games, it needs rules.

    Thanks to modern food and health laws, food borne disease is almost unheard of today.

  • Thanks to modern food and health laws, food borne disease is almost unheard of today.

    You must be joking. With the recent E. coli outbreak in Europe, that’s 3K sick and 30-some dead.

    Just because most of our lazy press is focused on Weiner-gate (and IMHO the guy needs to resign), doesn’t mean that aren’t current cases of food-borne disease. And thanks for modern rules and capitalism, the damages might be greater, more widespread, and much more dangerous.

  • “It’s food and health laws that create the public’s confidence to consume food in a public venue.”
    Nonsense, we lived for generations without these nonsensical laws. It’s called having trust in other people. They aren’t out to harm you just because they are interested in running a business and making money.

    Um. No. That’s stunningly ignorant. Please take a few minutes to read about the terrible deaths and illnesses that required the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. Or, for that matter, read through some Virginia health inspection reports—and that’s how restaurants are run when they have a legal obligation to keep their food safe, so imagine if it was built solely on “trust.”

  • This is just sad. The Batesville Store, formerly Page’s Store, had been in business in one form or another since 1912. I remember going there when I was 6 years old — I lived within walking distance, just up the hill. When I left the area in 1991, the store had no seating AT ALL and seemed to manage just fine. Now 15 seats won’t do? This sounds more like an excuse for closing than a real reason, and it’s a shame. I hope there’s someone who will step up, buy out these people, and run it as the country store it always was. Charley Page would be spinning in his grave if he knew someone was closing the store because the state wouldn’t let them seat 40 people and run as a restaurant.

  • This isn’t really the forum for this question, but does The Hook do any real local reporting anymore? I mean, besides rehashing Morgan Harrington’s death? I would have thought this kind of story would be totally in The Hook’s wheelhouse, but not a peep. What’s happening over there?

  • Um. No. That’s stunningly ignorant. Please take a few minutes to read about the terrible deaths and illnesses that required the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. Or, for that matter, read through some Virginia health inspection reports—and that’s how restaurants are run when they have a legal obligation to keep their food safe, so imagine if it was built solely on “trust.”

    You’re wrong. The Pure Food and Drug Act was necessary because of the large-scale, commercial industrialization of meat processing and mislabeling of drugs. This isn’t necessary here. What is ignorant is trying to apply laws meant to protect against corporate abuse to tiny businesses that are not harming anyone and do not have massive teams of lawyers covering up abuses. Inspections are fine and information should be communicated to the public to let them know what is so dangerous; so what exactly created such a danger to health in the Batesville Store?

    If the sewage was getting out of hand, sure that makes sense to close it down. But blind subservience to laws meant for entirely different situations is silly and counterproductive. Might as well turn off the brain.

    So what was the actual problem with having 40 seats?

  • You’re wrong. The Pure Food and Drug Act was necessary because of the large-scale, commercial industrialization of meat processing and mislabeling of drugs. This isn’t necessary here.

    Now you’re moving the goalposts, Art. What Matthew wrote was: “Nonsense, we lived for generations without these nonsensical laws. It’s called having trust in other people. They aren’t out to harm you just because they are interested in running a business and making money.” The same standards applied to meat processing and the labeling of drugs are not being applied to the Batesville Store. In fact, not even the basic standards of food service appear to be applied to the Batesville Store—there’s no record of any health inspections of their facility on the Health Department’s website. Also, really, where do you think they’re getting their ingredients from? They’re not all grown in their back yard—they’re coming from industrial meat processing facilities, the very facilities that you just said need to be regulated.

    Sometimes things are more complicated than we wish that they were. This is one of those things.

  • I’ll have to say as a prior restaurant/coffee shop owner in a small town, if you’re running a restaurant then you have to play the game and dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

    It is a small space, parking is limited but it has proven to work.

    It’s very sad for this community to lose their meeting spot. Read more on my blog, http://forsythiahill.blogspot.com

    Hopefully somehow they can muddle through the VA and County laws and make it work.

  • Nice link to the Virginia Dept. of Health.

    Perhaps related question: why isn’t Anderson’s Carriage Food House on that site? (Or is it?)

  • In the Progress, Aaron Richardson writes:

    The Batesville Store was under the jurisdiction of the agriculture department, which had inspected it four times between February 2010 and April 2011. Scallet says the inspector, Allyn Olinger, had never told him there was an issue with seating in the store before Friday.

    But Doug Saunders, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, said the Scallets had been warned about the seating issue as early as last October. Saunders said Olinger had warned Liza Scallet that if the number of seats in the establishment increased, they would have to contact the health department.

    Scallet says they were never warned about the seats until the health inspectors showed up.

    “If Mr. Olinger, or his spokesman, is saying that he spoke to my wife about seating, it is a bald lie,” Scallet said.

    Of course, I have no idea which person is telling the truth here, but we have gone from “there was no notice” to “the state says that they were notified repeatedly, the owners say that they were never notified.”

    Also, there’s this little bit:

    Scallet admits that he had nearly 60 seats in the store, but says they were for sale. According to Scallet, he thought that if the furniture was a retail item, it wasn’t considered restaurant seating and couldn’t be counted toward his 15 seats.

    There are two important facts that emerge here. The first is that the owners knew that they had a limit of 15 seats, but they chose to ignore it. The second is that they thought that they were being clever, that if they just put price tags on their seats and tables, that they could skirt the 15-seat requirement.

    This author also points out that, up until 2004, country stores were inspected by the Health Department. But HB918 amended that requirement, moving the inspection of “convenience stores and gas stations having 15 or fewer seats” out of the bailiwick of the Department of Health and over to the Department of Agriculture, for the purpose of lessening the regulatory burden on these small stores. Specifically, the text of the bill added a new exemption to the entire title of the code that regulates restaurants. It’s a very specific exemption, an exemption that no reasonable person would believe that the Batesville Store qualifies under.

    Even in the light of all of this, I remain sympathetic to the Scallets, and it continues to strike me as unreasonable that there’s no method of resolving this other than an all-or-nothing proposition of store-or-restaurant. But this story is gaining some texture, you could say.

  • “Um. No. That’s stunningly ignorant. Please take a few minutes to read about the terrible deaths and illnesses that required the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. Or, for that matter, read through some Virginia health inspection reports—and that’s how restaurants are run when they have a legal obligation to keep their food safe, so imagine if it was built solely on ‘trust.'”

    First of all Waldo, it’s rude to call other people “stunningly ignorant”, even on the internet.

    Second, without having spoken to you, I have to wonder how much restaurant experience you have. From what you’ve said, it seems like you were in the Batesville store once while the Scalletts have owned it, have you ever worked for an extended period in a restaurant? Those of us who have can spot issues when we walk in the door, and I can assure you, the Scalletts had none; no issues with safety, food handling or storage, preparation, or clean up.

    The Government folks around here who inspect restaurants are notorious around the state for being “difficult” shall we say. They frequently have a “my way or the highway” attitude and act as though you plan to poison all your customers if you take exception to what they decree. Of course none of them have ever tried to run a business themselves.

    Do you understand why people are upset? The Scalletts are BELOVED in both the Batesville and Cville music communities. What they did with that store was make it a wonderful, functioning community center that drew folks from all over to this end of the county. You make it seem like they “thought they were being clever…” Well if you had ever run a business and had to deal with local or state officials and inspections, you would know that cleverness is a requirement if you want to make any money.

    I’ll stop now, but please Waldo, watch your tone, you’re being quoted liberally and I think you’re long on opinion and short on facts. True facts anyway, don’t believe everything you hear on 29 or read elsewhere on the internet.

  • Um. No. That’s stunningly ignorant. Please take a few minutes to read about the terrible deaths and illnesses that required the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. Or, for that matter, read through some Virginia health inspection reports—and that’s how restaurants are run when they have a legal obligation to keep their food safe, so imagine if it was built solely on “trust.”

    Almost forgot. All human interactions are based almost completely on “trust”, it’s just a question of who you trust more. Having known them for a long time, and through much experience, I trust the Scalletts, more than you, and WAY more than any state agent.

    And I read Sinclair Lewis in high school, this isn’t turn of the century Chicago we’re talking about.

  • Again—and I can’t make this any more clear than I already have, so I’ll try repetition here—the statement to which I was responding was a SWEEPING statement that no regulation of food is necessary because, hey, can’t we all trust each other? And, yes, such a statement is stunningly ignorant. Period. That has zero to do with the Batesville Store, and zero to do with the Scallets, no matter how fervently you might wish it to.

    Yes, I have worked in restaurants. Three of them, all in downtown Charlottesville, throughout the nineties.

  • You would be more “clear” by being a little less sweeping in your generalizations, as well as avoiding phrases like “stunningly ignorant” when talking about what others have said.

    You may allude to my “wishes” all you like, but the overarching subject here is the Scallett’s operation of the Batesville Store, so what you say does not have “ZERO to do with the Scalletts” and if you don’t get that, check out how liberally people are cross pollinating the various blogs and FB groups.

    As I’m writing this, I can hear the story cycling again on NBC29, hopefully they’ve fixed their version, the initial one was horrible.

  • Biff, it’s terribly inappropriate of you to accuse the Scallets of being sweeping in their generalizations, and calling their customers “rude.” How dare you!

    There—now you know what it’s like to have somebody grossly misinterpret your very specific comments to refer to something entirely unrelated, not apologize for doing so, and then lecture you for it. Unpleasant, ain’t it? :)

    If you’ve got any special knowledge of this situation, as you imply, I hope you’ll share that information with the rest of us. Otherwise, if you just intend to lecture about how smart you are and the rest of us are just a bunch of inexperienced dopes who believe “facts” but not “true facts”, I don’t think you’re doing anybody any good.

  • “…the statement to which I was responding was a SWEEPING statement that no regulation of food is necessary because, hey, can’t we all trust each other?”
    To regulate or not to regulate is not the question, but who will do the regulating. And there are only two choices that I can see: (1)Self-regulation or (2)regulation by outside party imposed by the threat of violence, which in our case is the use of the law for that purpose as opposed to an overtly criminal operation.

    The first choice is a reflection of a free society in which people have the incentive to regulate themselves in their relationships with others because they know they will be held responsible for their actions that harm as well benefit others.The law in this case does not intervene to tell people how to run their lives or businesses, it simply says your an adult and you’ll be held responsible for the harm you do to others.
    From this premise, court proceedings will develop a kind of common law that will let people know what actions of others have caused harm, actions that may ruin reputations and bankrupt businesses. This requires a legal system that has integrity and holds individual freedom and responsibility its highest value. It ought to be a system of private law, but that’s another argument for another time.

    The second choice is what we have now, essentially a democratic dictatorship, where the politically powerful few control and regulate the many and convincing the many they are protecting them from the big bad wolf, aka those greedy corporations and big business people, the rich and other “enemies” these folks conjure up. This system of regulation implies that we ordinary people are too childish, too ignorant or too greedy to know what’s good for us or to do what’s right. Therefore we need our “Betters” in government, the selfless ones, the ones who know, to guide and protect us from the big bad wolves and little wolves too. And these laws are meant for those who don’t get with the program laid down by our “Betters”, to kick a little ass if necessary. Ask the various independent farmers around here who’ve had their ass kicked by the health gestapo.

  • “Biff, it’s terribly inappropriate of you to accuse the Scallets of being sweeping in their generalizations, and calling their customers “rude.” How dare you!”

    That’s beneath you Waldo, don’t you know sarcasm is the weapon of the weak? I can see you’re frustrated but I’m not sure why. We were talking about government oversight of local business, and you went straight to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, I found that to be excessive. Didn’t like your use of the phrase “stunningly ignorant”, you might want to avoid that in the future.

    “There—now you know what it’s like to have somebody grossly misinterpret your very specific comments to refer to something entirely unrelated, not apologize for doing so, and then lecture you for it. Unpleasant, ain’t it? :)”

    Waldo, I have been reading this blog for many years and I’ve learned not to take offense or to take you too seriously, so no worries.

    “If you’ve got any special knowledge of this situation, as you imply, I hope you’ll share that information with the rest of us. Otherwise, if you just intend to lecture about how smart you are and the rest of us are just a bunch of inexperienced dopes who believe “facts” but not “true facts”, I don’t think you’re doing anybody any good.”

    My “special knowledge”? Just that I’ve been frequenting the Bville Store since the Scalletts opened it. I have lived at Miller School or in Crozet since 1989. I’m not close friends with Cid and Liza, but Liza taught my children at WAHS, and I frankly admire what they have done in Batesville. They are not liars or cheats. You can depend on what they say.

    That is not my experience in dealing with County government by and large. When we had conflicts with the county schools we were routinely lied to. My experiences running a business in the county the last 5 years or so… well I could write a book.

    I didn’t call you an “inexperienced dope”. I didn’t lecture you about how smart I am. Why so touchy? I’m going by Batesville this afternoon, I don’t think I should say much more without talking to Cid and Liza, but once I do, if it’s OK with them, I’ll be more than glad to share.

  • @Biff– while I appreciate your kind words about the Scallets, and in fact completely agree with them, you’re not addressing the real issue: The Batesville Store could not continue to run under the more lax Country Store zoning if it was, in fact, operating as a restaurant and music hall. Of course, the Scallets knew this, and that’s why they hid the seating numbers by using the old furniture sales ploy. Been there and done that myself.

    Anyone can sympathize with why they chose to hide their seating numbers this way. I know I do. We can also mourn the store’s passing in its current incarnation, but if you get caught, you need to man up and face the consequences.

    You’re correct, those of us in the food biz, especially longtime veterans like myself, can walk into a place and get a very good feel for how it’s run. But I promise you, my inspections would go far beyond a brief initial scan. Thankfully, inspections are based on more rigorous criteria than the charm of the owners, or happiness of the clientele.

    Let’s get real here. Quite a few of our local inspectors (both Health Dept and Ag) will let certain things slide if they feel that the owner’s non-compliance won’t hurt anyone. Obviously, I’m not going to name names, but many of our local businesses have benefited from the inspectors being reasonable and thinking outside the box. But it’s foolhardy to assume that that benevolence becomes a right.

    I can only speculate, but have to wonder if the inspectors had no choice but to take action when the Scallets became so publicly non-compliant. 15 vs 60 seats is pretty noticeable, no? Whether or not we like the rules, we all agree to do business under their guidelines. You want to buck the system? Fine, do it. Then hold your head up if caught, and no whining.

  • OK, just got home, talked to a Zoning lady from the county who is upset at the way the county looks in this mess, she gave me her side and I took notes. Then I ended up in Batesville and talked to Cid and Liza for almost an hour (bought a bunch of their frosted brownies at half price too), and they were OK with me talking about this online.

    The story is insanely long, so here it is as briefly as I’m able:

    From the county lady: complaint comes in to the health department that someone bought spoiled meat at Batesville Store. The story is they bought sliced turkey on a Sunday, went to eat it Friday and it smelled bad, ate it anyway, got sick 2 days later.

    Jeff McDaniel from the Health Dept goes to Batesville and meets with Cid and Liza and gives them 4 options to stay open. None of the 4 are remotely feasible so they elect to close. This happened on Friday morning I believe (could have been Thursday, not sure). They are given timeline for close out sale.

    Cid says there are so many errors being reported as facts he’s not sure where to begin and isn’t trying at this point to keep up with it all. One that really stood out for him was the idea that they had slowly been adding chairs over the years. He says he started 4 1/2 years ago with the same number that are there today, about 60. Also that Allen Ollinger from the Ag Dept who has inspected them regularly for years had never challenged them on their country store status or told them to get rid of chairs.

    In summation, one branch of the government decided what another branch was doing wasn’t satisfactory, so they shut down a thriving community center and cost the Scalletts a large amount of money and time and heartache. And they robbed many people of a major sense of real community (Cid got well over 400 emails of support as of Monday)

    This whole thing sucks.

  • “One that really stood out for him was the idea that they had slowly been adding chairs over the years. He says he started 4 1/2 years ago with the same number that are there today, about 60.”

    Is it just me, or do those two sentences completely contradict one another? Either they slowly added chairs over the years, or they started 4-1/2 years ago with 60, which is the same number as today, which indicates that there was no slow adding of chairs…Biff, your “take my word for it” reportage isn’t all that enlightening.

  • @Claire: the sentence before your quote mentions Cid being frustrated by “errors being reported as facts”. The “slowly adding chairs story” was one he pointed out that I had read in other blogs. So how is it contradictory?

    If you know more about this than I do, have at it. If you don’t find what I have to say interesting, well I apologize. If you’d like to talk, friend me on FB and I’ll send you my number.

  • “@Biff– while I appreciate your kind words about the Scallets, and in fact completely agree with them, you’re not addressing the real issue: The Batesville Store could not continue to run under the more lax Country Store zoning if it was, in fact, operating as a restaurant and music hall.”

    @Chef: while I agree with most of what you said, I would like to ask a couple of questions. To what you said about the “real issue”, I want to know “WHY NOT”? They are in a historic country store that functions as the center of the Batesville community. They started out open 7AM to 7PM, 7 days a week. There was not enough traffic to make that remotely worthwhile, recently they were not even open the first part of the week. The Ag inspector knew there were 60 chairs, there were no food/kitchen/storage issues, they were never cited for any type of violation.

    Then BAM!!!!! Mr Health Department shows up, based on a specious complaint, and immediately says do this (gave them 4 unworkable options) or shut down. He was not nice about it. There was no finesse to try to work through his concerns. Just BAM!!!!!

    I find this to be capricious and arbitrary. Ever been to the Floyd Country Store? All the shelves are on rollers and they push them out of the way for music all the time. Where’s the concern for the Scallett’s investment (which was large)? Where’s the consideration for the poor guy who owns the building? How’s he ever going to find a tenant? Where’s the concern for what that place has meant to the community? When Cid checked his email on Monday, there were over 400 messages of support.

    Who serves who here? Do we exist to obey whatever whim some government official concocts? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Isn’t that why we call them public servants?

    “Of course, the Scallets knew this, and that’s why they hid the seating numbers by using the old furniture sales ploy. Been there and done that myself.”

    I didn’t ask him about the “for sale” ploy, but they weren’t hiding the number of seats at all. There have been 60 or so seats in there since they took over and the Ag guy, Mr Ollinger, knew all about it.

    “Anyone can sympathize with why they chose to hide their seating numbers this way. I know I do.”

    Again, they weren’t “hiding” anything.

    “We can also mourn the store’s passing in its current incarnation, but if you get caught, you need to man up and face the consequences.”

    Which is exactly what they’re doing, but I still think it’s ridiculous from both a legal and enforcement perspective.

    “You’re correct, those of us in the food biz, especially longtime veterans like myself, can walk into a place and get a very good feel for how it’s run. But I promise you, my inspections would go far beyond a brief initial scan. Thankfully, inspections are based on more rigorous criteria than the charm of the owners, or happiness of the clientele.”

    Were you ever there? Spotless kitchen. Everything you could want or imagine. And if you know anything about Liza Scallett’s reputation (she taught at WAHS for over 20 years) you would know why I have such confidence in their operation beyond my cursory inspection. That and THEY WERE NEVER CITED ONCE by the Ag inspector.

    “Let’s get real here. Quite a few of our local inspectors (both Health Dept and Ag) will let certain things slide if they feel that the owner’s non-compliance won’t hurt anyone. Obviously, I’m not going to name names, but many of our local businesses have benefited from the inspectors being reasonable and thinking outside the box. But it’s foolhardy to assume that that benevolence becomes a right.”

    I believe that’s exactly what happened here, the Ag guy let them continue down the path that was giving them some success, then the Health Dept guy came in and pitched a fit. I am very anxious to know more about the complaint that led to the Health Dept getting involved, because I’ve heard the story now several times and it sounds like b—sh-t to me.

    “I can only speculate, but have to wonder if the inspectors had no choice but to take action when the Scallets became so publicly non-compliant.”

    What do you mean “became”? There were the same number of chairs there last Friday as when they opened. There wasn’t some gradual growth into noncompliance. They were told for years they were fine and then the guy showed up Friday and shut them down.

    “15 vs 60 seats is pretty noticeable, no?”

    It was always 60 seats, most of which were outside.

    “Whether or not we like the rules, we all agree to do business under their guidelines. You want to buck the system? Fine, do it. Then hold your head up if caught, and no whining.”

    First of all, I saw them Sunday, they both looked like they were in shock and about to cry. But I have never, NEVER ONCE heard either of them whine or get remotely close to whining.

    But more importantly you say “we all agree to do business under their guidelines”. I have 2 issues with that. First, I think the guidelines are nonsensical. Allegedly the exemptions for country stores were to HELP THEM, because everybody recognizes their import in their rural, underserved communities.

    But second, the devil is always in the details, it’s not just what exists in some law text, it’s the application of the law. The Scalletts weren’t trying to buck the system, they were working with the Ag guy to create a profitable entity in an out of the way country store.

    I’d also really like to know whether the Health Dept guy contacted the Ag guy before he went out there to shut them down, or if he was just a lone ranger.

    Sorry to drone on so long Chef, best to you.

  • @Biff– No one is disputing the fact that the Batesville Store was immaculately clean, nor were they cited for any cleanliness- or food-related violations. The story I read somewhere was that a customer supposedly purchased sliced meat on a Sunday and didn’t consume it until a Friday, then got sick. That’s a laughable claim, but apparently it was enough to pry the lid off of a can of worms. If you’re flouting your zoning, sometimes that’s all it takes…

    Of course I’ve been there, and it’s a wonderful place. But I knew that they were flouting the rules because I’d looked into country store zoning when thinking about buying a place myself 5 years ago. The limited seating would have worked for me because I specifically did NOT want to go into the restaurant business. The fact that it’s called a country “store” and not a country restaurant, is the clue here. Though not a “country” establishment, I imagine that Whole Foods probably faces similar limitations on their seating.

    Sure, the way the laws are administered is arbitrary and capricious. How else did the Scallets get away with it all those years? They knew about the 15-seat limit, but chose to push it to 60 seats, so yes, “get away with” is the correct term. That doesn’t make them bad people, though. Did the Scallets ever say flat-out to the inspector “Hey look, we have 60 seats and we know that we’re only supposed to have 15. Is this going to be a problem?” If the inspector promised then that it would never be an issue, then the inspector is to be blamed for misleading them. I’d bet anything that that frank and honest conversation never took place. I bet that every time the inspector left, they breathed a sigh of relief that the issue wasn’t raised. I’m also sure that the inspector genuinely wished for the Scallets to be successful.

    I hope that this controversy will lead to changes in the laws, because that’s what’s needed. However, I’d caution that some of these laws exist for very good reason, i.e. sewage issues, noise and traffic, etc.

  • @Chef: Agree with most of what you said, just a few comments.

    “@Biff– No one is disputing the fact that the Batesville Store was immaculately clean, nor were they cited for any cleanliness- or food-related violations.”

    Actually they are on other blogs, there’s a guy circulating a story that he saw an employee lick a spoon then put it back in a pasta salad, says he told Cid and he wasn’t satisfied with Cid’s response. But you’re right, no record of violations.

    “The story I read somewhere was that a customer supposedly purchased sliced meat on a Sunday and didn’t consume it until a Friday, then got sick. That’s a laughable claim, but apparently it was enough to pry the lid off of a can of worms. If you’re flouting your zoning, sometimes that’s all it takes…”

    That’s correct, they complained to the Health Department (it was sliced turkey), heard this at the County Bldg yesterday. Health did not contact Ag is my understanding.

    “Flouting”? I’d say rather they were dealing successfully with one agency when another decided to wade in and change the game. That’s capricious by definition.

    I don’t think the Scallets saw themselves as “getting away with it”, not implying they didn’t know there could be problems (There’s history I won’t go into here), or that they were naive, I just hate the way this was handled, “Do what I say (none of which was feasible) or close NOW.” after years of successfully operating a popular, useful business.

    “They knew about the 15-seat limit, but chose to push it to 60 seats, so yes, “get away with” is the correct term.”

    Again, there have been 60 seats there from day one, and the Ag guy was aware.

    “That doesn’t make them bad people, though. Did the Scallets ever say flat-out to the inspector “Hey look, we have 60 seats and we know that we’re only supposed to have 15. Is this going to be a problem?”

    I don’t know, will ask Cid the next time I talk to him.

    “If the inspector promised then that it would never be an issue, then the inspector is to be blamed for misleading them. I’d bet anything that that frank and honest conversation never took place. I bet that every time the inspector left, they breathed a sigh of relief that the issue wasn’t raised. I’m also sure that the inspector genuinely wished for the Scallets to be successful.”

    Agreed.

    “I hope that this controversy will lead to changes in the laws, because that’s what’s needed. However, I’d caution that some of these laws exist for very good reason, i.e. sewage issues, noise and traffic, etc.”

    Some maybe, but very few, and it’s the wise application of the law that’s so important. Albemarle County’s Health Dept has a tyrannical reputation, I could tell you stories for a long time.

    It’s sad to me that small business has to play games with the government to stay in business, and the rules change depending on who you know or how much money you have.

    Would love to chat some more chef, shoot me an email @ crozetmusicfestival@gmail.com

  • I’d say rather they were dealing successfully with one agency when another decided to wade in and change the game. That’s capricious by definition.

    I like this sentence.

  • Waldo: I miss the “preview” function.

    I left that italics tag hanging.

  • as a 20 year veteran of the Charlbemarle restaurant industry I’ve found the Health Department to be pleasant, fair and helpful. Yes, I get a bit nervous when one walks into my kitchen for inspection but I have never found any HD representative to be “difficult” or had to battle any “my way or the highway” attitude. I’d like to think having good intentions on the restaurant side leads to an HD rep enforcing the rules in a realistic manner. Each building is different, each kitchen unique so not every rule can be met to the letter of the law. But a good Health Dept rep (and most around here are quite good) understands when you’re keeping things sanitized and at the proper temps trying — and when you’re just being lazy.

    Of course this has nothing to do with 60 vs 15 chairs but don’t blame the evil-government Health Department. That’s not their standard behavior.

  • @Rick, my dealings with them have also been generally positive as well. Will have to make an exception for a certain older HD inspector who is notorious in the local food world. She’s one of those old-school cafeteria lady types who thinks that organic produce and Polyface eggs and chickens are inherently “dirtier” and more “dangerous” than the tainted pesticide-filled and wax-coated crap you buy in a grocery store. She believes that rare meat is the devil, that foam trays and shrink wrap are the apotheosis of safety and proper handling, and she can’t begin to fathom the process behind duck confit.

    Most of ‘em aren’t like that though.

  • the ridiculousness of this is unfathomable- there is finally a place for community to come together and bureaucracy (and potentially a whistle blower with too much time on their hands) ruins it for everyone. I hope the greater community will come together and save this treasured place.

  • Heard today from 2 reliable sources that the Scallets were approached by the Health Dept and are going to meet with them next week to explore options to allow Batesville Store to continue operation under the restaurant classification, so keep your fingers crossed.

  • Thanks for the scuttlebutt, Biff.

    For anyone: is there an issue with zoning (country store v. restaurant)?

  • I’d just like to chime in here and confirm some things that Biff said… From very early on, they had a large number of seats. That said, many of those seats where brought out for the events on the weekend and went away for most of the week. It’s pretty clear though that the Ag inspector knew what was going on and chose to look the other way. I heard a claim elsewhere that some of the health department folks in off hours enjoyed going to the store themselves. Indeed as one was leaving the store after shutting it down they referred to it as “a treasure”. I’m reasonably certain that it was the fact that it started drawing in people from outside Batesville, and one or more complaints from neighbors that caused Ag and the Health Department to take action. In other words, as long as he wasn’t too successful, it wasn’t a problem.

    I like the Floyd Country store analogy. I think what Cid did was effectively revive a very old idea, which is make the contry store a gathering place for the community where they could share music and food. Problem is, since those days when that was typical the laws haven’t kept up to address that model since it has become a rarity anymore. Indeed I’ve personally seen the health inspectors get all worked up over the silverware being pointed the wrong direction.

    Cid probably wouldn’t like me saying this, but I do think he was pushing the boundaries a bit. I think anyone that went there on weekends had to know that. I’m also troubled about the the “seats for sale” thing, and would love to hear Cid’s perspective on that. Honestly, it’d be a better venue on weekends if sometimes there were less people. (note, I said, less people, not less seats) It’d also solve the situation if the guy across the streat would just lease all or part of the field for outdoor seating and/or parking. I’m not too concerned about the parking though, as it achieved something we’ve wanted in Batesville for yeara… to get people driving through to obey the speed limit!

    As for county zoning, Batesville is a “crossroads community”. I’d personally like to see the county make certain businesses allowed by zoning in crossroads communities, like restaurants. (Currently restaurants are prohibited in rural areas, except where grandfathered in.)

  • Oh, and Waldo, I second Walt’s suggestion about the “preview”. I’m not really as illiterate as some of my spelling mistakes might indicate!

  • Spoof. That sign is for a for sale by owner house up the hill behind the store. BUT, the Batesville Store/post office building has been on and off the for sale market for some time. This is public knowledge. The offering has always been for the physical property, not for the business.

  • “For anyone: is there an issue with zoning (country store v. restaurant)?”

    @Walt: Good question and gets to the heart of what has frustrated me. “Country Stores” fall under the VDACS, which is the State Ag folks. Bville Store has been inspected by Ag since Cid and Liza started there, probably for many years before that, but obviously this is a “New Model” for a “Country Store”, and obviously (and admittedly by Cid) they were given some slack by the Ag inspector. That slack was necessary to stay profitable, they started out as a cool, updated version of Page’s Store, open 7am to 7pm 7days a week. Guess what? Didn’t work, just not enough traffic in spite of the wireless and all the amenities, just not enough traffic (I don’t know the population of “Batesville Proper” as some have called it, but I’d guess it’s 100 or less) It’s one of the things I love about Batesville, it’s still REAL country, which Crozet no longer is.

    Anyway, being astute business people, Cid and Liza set about to adjust their hours and figure out how they could draw people in the store, and being music lovers they started to do their Friday and Saturday evening shows, and they made something magic, lots of people came. As Old Timer or others could tell you they managed to piss off some of their near neighbors with the increased traffic (hard to park to get into the PO for instance), but by and large they were very successful. And all the while they were being inspected by Ag. Zero violations recorded.

    Then some unhappy individual filed a complaint a few weeks or so ago, that he/she bought bad meat there, and that’s where things began to get complicated. First of all, I believe the complaint was bogus, I’ve heard the story several times and it just sounds like bs.

    But they filed it with the Health Department which is an interesting entity; it’s a State agency as you can tell from their web address, but the county funds it as well, and while I don’t know all about the org structure, it’s frequently referred to as the Albemarle County Health Dept, in spite of the fact they cover a multi-county area (Fluvanna, Louisa, Greene, and I’m not sure where else.

    I haven’t talked to Jeff McDaniel, the HD guy that showed up in Batesville a week ago Friday, but the Hook story says that HD called Ag about the complaint, presumably because they didn’t have “jurisdiction” over a “Country Store” and Ag had been inspecting them all along. Presumably that would have generated a follow up visit from the Ag inspector, Allyn Ollinger, no big deal.

    But for some reason Mr McDaniel decided he needed to visit Batesville himself, and things went downhill fast. He quickly made the determination that Batesville Store was not a “Country Store”, but a “Restaurant” and was therefore under his jurisdiction. I wasn’t present for the conversation but have been told by multiple people I trust, both in Batesville and the County govt, that he gave them 5 options:
    1. Get rid of seats (limit of 15)
    2. Sell only prepackaged food (whatever that is, Twinkies and such I guess)
    3. Have the food catered and brought in from an outside “approved facility” (sure, that’ll work)
    4. Upgrade the building to meet Restaurant code, which if you’ve ever read it is a long, tangled process that would certainly involve septic upgrades and major building renovations.
    5. Close. Like now.

    As everyone is aware, Cid chose #5. I’ve read where he’s criticized in this and other blogs, even called “cowardly” in a FB blog, and I don’t get that. First of all, Cid has had issues with State govt before, and he’s told me they were enormously difficult and took him years to recover from. So here is the STATE, showing up unannounced in his face, at his place of business, giving him 4 unworkable options (to say the least, ridiculous would be more appropriate) or else close, and he chose to close.

    I don’t know what the interaction was like between Ag and HD beforehand, and probably never will because there’s a lot of CYA going on at this point, and I understand that because they’re probably getting flack from all angles. But this is a classic BAIT and SWITCH by the goverment agencies. I’ve tried to explain previously to folks that were critical of Cid and Liza for “not following the rules” that they WERE FOLLOWING THE RULES as they had been presented/allowed by Ag. Then HD comes in and changes the game.

    And not gently either. Government enforcement is like a club or a sledgehammer, it is rare to find someone with initiative and wisdom in government (they are there, love my govt friends), and I could tell you a thousand stories to support that assertion, you could probably add a few of your own.
    As anybody knows, free born Americans don’t like laws, don’t generally pay much attention to them either, and if you disagree with that, spend a little time on I64 going the speed limit and watch how many cars pass you.

    It’s like deToqueville said, “America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” I am not the least bit against the government trying to protect the public from scams and bad meat, but when it interferes with the exercise of people’s liberty to do what they want with their own property, or to run their own business, I’ll pretty much always want to err on the side of liberty, as long as you’re not hurting anybody.

    I made the point earlier in this blog to Waldo that all human interactions are based on trust at some level, but as our society became increasingly litigious in the late 70’s and 80’s, the response of govt at all levels has been to increase regulation, and Albemarle has been ahead of that curve for some time. A LOT of people work in the department known as “Community Development” as compared to other surrounding counties, it makes DOING something productive in this county something of a nightmare. I’ve never met Oliver Kuttner, of Pegasus Motorworks, Starlight Express, and X Prize fame, but am told that he would have liked to build his electric car factory (or whatever it is he’s planning) in Albemarle, but opted for Lynchburg based on the difficulty of getting things up and running in Albemarle. And DOING SOMETHING is what creates a local economy, unless you want everyone in the entire county to either work for County Govt or UVA.

    While this might not effect a lot of folks, it is a sad thing for the average joe in the area, because it would mean a lot of jobs, good ones, local ones that keep average people here to contribute to the local economy and community. And possibly able to buy some of the raft of overpriced home stock around here.

    And “zoning” issues are probably the thorniest regulations of all. They are an attempt by our representatives to balance maintaining what’s good about what we have now, with the property rights of those who want to build or start something new. Applying those regulations must be a difficult job, but wisdom in that job is essential, not just knowledge of the law but wisdom in it’s application.
    Heard 2 good stories this week about the HD’s lack of wisdom in applying their regulations (that’s not a personal attack, I love some of the folks over there).

    In my estimation, we’ve forgotten that in the original version of the Declaration, Jefferson listed the inalienable rights as “Life, Liberty, and Property.” Again, I’m not for unfettered development as exists in other parts of the state, but the rights of property owners are trampled on regularly in Albemarle, to the point that people don’t even try.

    In my business, what I learned, after a series of near disasters, was to get to know my elected officials, and many of them are sympathetic to the difficulty of dealing with the bureaucracy. They’ve guided me to the people in Alb Co Govt who are sympathetic and easier to deal with, who will freely give information and help, rather than acting like you’re bothering them and failing to return your phone calls/emails. I can tell you for a CERTAIN fact that the business climate is very different in Nelson and other nearby counties.

    How ironic that the State Ag Dept has held up Batesville as a model of how to sucessfully revive a country store, then HD shut them down.

    Don’t want to ramble on too long, Walt, best to you, Old Timer, Waldo, and everyone else reading. And here’s hoping things work out well for every one in Batesville, it’s a special place.

    Yours, Biff

  • Forgot a few important words in the para that mentioned deToqueville (insertions in CAPS):

    It’s like deToqueville said, “America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” I am not the least bit against the government trying to protect the public from scams and bad meat, but when it interferes with the exercise of GOOD people’s liberty to do what they want with their own property, or to run their own GOOD business, I’ll pretty much always want to err on the side of liberty, as long as you’re not hurting anybody.

  • See, now this is useful information. :)

  • Biff, I think the county had been pretty supportive of the Batesville Store. I know some business owners that say county regulations are too much; however, they are typically never specific about exactly which regulations those are. I do know that sign regulations are a point of much contention, but regulations like those prevent a race to the bottom. I do know that in the rural area the county has recently gone out of its way to make life easier for folks running farms stands, wineries, and such. It could certainly do more though…

    That said, I think what some people want when they talk about “property rights” is no zoning at all, or worse, the ability to selectively circumvent zoning. Here’s where it gets complex, because what a neighbor does on their own property does have the ability to negatively affect your own, including raising your own taxes. For example, when you build a 500 home development, that adds a whole lot of cars to roads, and whole lot more kids to schools. A narrow view of property rights neglects the fact that growth and your land use is highly subsidized by other taxpayers.

    Can rules be simplified? Sure. Should we allow them to replicate 29 North on 250? Should we allow bay-killing sediment into our streams and reserviors? How would that affect the rights of everyone else? That said, if advocates of “property rights” in Albemarle were willing to also advocate for the removal of all subsidies, and have developers/landowners pay their own way then I would be far more persuaded by free market arguments.

    Lastly, I believe what Jefferson and the rest were concerned about in reference to property was how in England all the land was owned by various dukes and lords (and ultimately by the Crown itself). The irony here is that in a nation without regulation, robber barrons would quickly grab up all the land and resources for themselves…

    Now on a State or Federal level, I’m more inclined to agree. I’d rather see local government have more power and the State have less. After all, one way to view this situation with the Batesville Store is that the County said it was a Country Store, and the State overrruled us and said it wasn’t.

  • RE: zoning, inspections, and commerce

    The case of the “Arganica Farm Club” might also be included in this discussion.

  • Walt, that is rather interesting. On one side, speaking for myself, we’d certainly want to encourage that sort of activity in the rural area; however, probably not everywhere. I’m guessing it may involve large trucks going in and out frequently, and that could be an issue if the infrastructure couldn’t support it. I’d be interested to hear more about their business model, but if they really are a packing plant then it sounds more light industrial. I know one compromise I’ve suggested is that we invent a new zoning for light industrial agricultural use that could be used for industries that are more intensive but support agriculture (processing, packing, etc.) It’s the kind of zoning that could be applied the area of 250 that Yancey wanted to make light industrial, and perhaps remove some of the spector of more intensive uses that people might be afraid of. I’d be interested to hear from others about that though… If you lived in the rural area, would you want to live nezt to a packing facililty? I think that’s the real issue.

    Also, I think to add a bit to what I said before, i think the goal of “good” regulations is that they create a safe, fair and equal playing field. Think about a playground… A playground with too many rules is no fun, but a playground with none is also not fun and potentially dangerous besides. Somewhere between is an appropriate balance.

  • “Biff, I think the county had been pretty supportive of the Batesville Store.”

    How do you figure that? Please explain how you can even make such a statement.

    “I know some business owners that say county regulations are too much; however, they are typically never specific about exactly which regulations those are.”

    They are typically very specific when they talk to me, but they don’t want to be quoted because they are afraid of further flack from the county.

    Gotta go, business and family call, I agree with many of the broad themes of your last few paras, but Lonnie, in Albemarle, the devil is in the details and the application of the rules. No I don’t want 29North on 250West, but that has to be balance against the rights of property owners to do what they want with their property within the law, and that’s regularly trampled by the govt around here.

    Best to you, Biff

    “I do know that sign regulations are a point of much contention, but regulations like those prevent a race to the bottom.”

    It’s not just the regulations, but the APPLICATION of those regs that is problematic.

    “I do know that in the rural area the county has recently gone out of its way to make life easier for folks running farms stands, wineries, and such. It could certainly do more though… ”

    LOTS MORE. Don’t know what you’re referring to, but if you’re familiar with what David King did in Richmond a few years ago, or what the vineyard in Keswick has been put through you’d know that a lot more could be done from the county’s side.

    “That said, I think what some people want when they talk about “property rights” is no zoning at all, or worse, the ability to selectively circumvent zoning. Here’s where it gets complex, because what a neighbor does on their own property does have the ability to negatively affect your own….”

    I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT NO ZONING AT ALL!! I’ve said it several times in this and other blogs, I’m not in the Tea Party, I don’t hate all government, I’m NOT for no inspections, BUT balance is required, and wisdom in the application of the rules, and a view that encompasses ALL the goals of the community and doesn’t devolve into another NIMBY squabble. JOBS are an important consideration as well.

    “Selectively circumvent zoning….” Do you think anybody completely follows every zoning reg that applies to their property? I had a zoning guy drive by my house and tell me I had to take down the deck on the front b/c it was “too close to the property line”, he got REAL adamant and bossy and insisted the whole deck had to come down, until I asked him HOW MUCH too close it was. “3 feet” was his answer. So I asked him if it would be OK if I CUT 3 FEET OFF THE FRONT OF THE DECK? He got a puzzled look on his face, mumbled OK, and went away. I cut the 3 feet off, but later found out that according to HIS OWN COUNTY RULES, because of the way the deck was designed (2x6s on top of RR ties, shimmed up to level, no permanent foundation) I could have LEGALLY covered my entire yard right up to the line in that way, so I put the 3 feet back and never heard from that guy again (he wasn’t from around here, anyway)

  • Not sure how, but the final paragraph of my last post ended up as the 4th paragraph. Sure do miss the edit function Waldo.

  • Biff,

    Can you comment on how you know for sure that point #4 from your post above is in fact true and nothing more than speculation?

    4. Upgrade the building to meet Restaurant code, which if you’ve ever read it is a long, tangled process that would certainly involve septic upgrades and major building renovations.

    How do you know for a fact that in order to obtain a restaurant permit the Scallets would need to upgrade the septic system and make “major building renovations”?

    Perhaps obtaining a restaurant permit wouldn’t be so difficult? Perhaps the Scallets ought to at least make a cursory investigation into what would be involved?

  • “Restaurant code”

    Is that a building code or something with zoning or health department inspection?

    Other questions:

    I know some ethnic markets that sell prepared food to go? What sort of permits would be needed?

    I know some “country stores” also sell prepared food to go. I understand that there are seating restrictions on “country stores” but are there volume limits on these kinds of operations?

    I believe the Health Department inspects “catering kitchens.”

  • Biff, I don’t disagree that the application of ordinances can be an issue, and that sometimes people need to do more to look at the intent of the ordinance instead of just blindly enforcing it. That said, I’ve generally had positive experiences bringing issues directly to Supervisors or senior staff and getting them addressed, or even having new ordinances written. I’ve even found all the supervisors, regardless of party affiliation, to be really good at listening to ideas. That’s something you generally can’t get on the State or Federal level. Can progress be made in making local gevernment more flexible and responsive? Absolutely.

    Why don’t you drop by for a “golden beverage” sometime and we can discuss ways to improve policies and ordinances? After all, the comprehensive plan is under review right now and it’s an ideal time for the community to suggest new zoning or ordinances. Indeed, I hope everyone who cares about local ordinances, planning, and wants a say in what their community looks like should get involved in that process.

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