In today’s Daily Progress, Brandon Shulleeta writes about a pair of rural landowners with a family subdivision who are upset that they can’t divide their land one more time. Ronnie and Janie Matheny had seventeen acres, but they divided it up to give some land to their various kids. Now they want to carve off two of their 4.9 acres for their grandson, but they’re all out of development rights. So they had to appeal to the Board of Supervisors for special dispensation to break the rules, who turned them down in a 4-2 vote, Lindsay Dorrier and Ken Boyd dissenting. Boyd says that an exception should have been made. Republican Rodney Thomas, who is challenging incumbent Democrat David Slutzky, is making a campaign issue out of it, saying that he “more than likely” would have granted an exception to the Mathenys.
The trick here is that all family subdivisions are for family members, so allowing anybody to build more houses than zoning permits because “it’s for family” basically eliminates the notion of limiting the number of development rights in a family subdivision. There may well be criteria under which exceptions should be granted, but if those criteria run counter to the notion of family subdivisions, then they cease to be a logical way to divide up land.
By way of acknowledging conflicts of interest, I a) own land in a family subdivision and b) recently had Ronnie Matheny and his son come out to my land about drilling a well, which I expect to hire them to do.