See part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
The Rocket Boys (VAST) met and decided to appeal the denial of their Special Use Permit by Augusta County. They had 30 days to appeal; however, there was difficulty in obtaining transcripts of the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing that had been held on September 3.
After hiring Augusta County attorney Francis Chester, the appeal process moved to the court system where no courthouse clerk in living history could recall an appeal ever of an Augusta County BZA decision.
The VAST timeline tells it all:
18. September 28, 2009 - VAST retains a local attorney, Mr. Francis Chester of Churchville, Virginia.Next -- Part 13: Community reaction
19. October 2, 2009 - Mr. Chester files a Writ of Certiorari with the Circuit Court Clerk of Augusta County as part of the appeal process.a. In living memory, no court clerk staff member can recall an appeal of an Augusta County BZA decision ever being filed.20. October 2, 2009 - VAST finally receives hardcopy Minutes from the September 3, 2009 BZA meeting.
b. As such, the filing fee cannot be determined at that time and VAST is allowed to file the appeal for no cost (the fee is later determined to be $88.00 which VAST remits).
c. VAST's appeal states that the BZA's decision was arbitrary and capricious and a deliberate disregard of competent and relevant evidence.
d. Circuit Court case numbers are assigned: CL09001377-00 & CL09001377-01.a. VAST reviews and identifies numerous inaccuracies and omissions.21. November 17, 2009 - Motion meeting between the Judge (Judge Ludwig), VAST's Attorney (Mr. Chester), and the County Attorney (Mr. Morgan) is held.
b. VAST again requests a copy of the public audio tapes so direct comparisons can be made.
c. The County once more denies VAST access to them.a. County Attorney objects to the court granting VAST a hearing stating that Virginia Statutes require the Judge to make his ruling based solely on the evidence previously presented at the September 3 BZA meeting.22. November 18, 2009 - Mr. Chester contacts the County Attorney's office and requests copies of the audio tapes from the September 3 meeting. The office secretary informs Mr. Chester that the County no longer has the tapes due to their re-use.
b. Judge Ludwig states that the Virginia Statutes are vague in regards to situations of this type and it is his discretion to allow VAST a hearing.
c. The writ will be modified to order the County to supply copies of all transcripts and documents related to VAST's SUP request to the Court as well as to Mr. Chester.
23. November 18, 2009 - Mr. Chester contacts the Zoning Administrator who confirms that the County doesn't have them due to re-use.a. Mr. Chester is assured that what is in the transcripts (minutes) is what happened at the September 3 meeting.24. November 18, 2009 - Mr. Chester contacts VAST President, Chuck Neff, to notify him of the audio tape status.
b. Mr. Chester expresses his doubt since inaccuracies and omissions have been identified.a. These tapes should have been the public's property and accessible under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).25. January 5, 2010 - Motion meeting between the Judge (Judge Ludwig), VAST's Attorney (Mr. Chester), and the County Attorney (Mr. Morgan) is held.
b. Mr. Chester states he will look into the legalities but that this should only help VAST's overall case since even the transcripts do not reflect a decision based on facts relating to applicable zoning interests.
c. Transcripts seem to express a decision based on the opinions, fears, desires, speculations, and conjectures expressed by those in opposition.
d. Mr. Neff conveys to Mr. Chester the need to ensure that the Response to Comments document that VAST submitted to the County is included in the materials that the Judge receives.
e. Mr. Chester states he'll have VAST review what he receives from the County to ensure nothing has been altered, added, or omitted.a. Due to circumstances not associated with VAST's appeal, Mr. Chester motions to have Judge Ludwig recuse himself from all his cases.26. January 12, 2010 - Judge Ludwig issues a Response Letter to recusal motion.
b. Approval of modified writ is postponed until Judge Ludwig's decision is made.a. Judge Ludwig denies motion.27. February 2, 2010 - Motion meeting between the Judge (Judge Ludwig), VAST's Attorney (Mr. Chester), and the County Attorney (Mr. Morgan) is held.
b. Assures Mr. Chester that he can and will hear his cases without bias.a. Judge Ludwig grants the modified writ and orders to the County to supply copies of all transcripts and documents related to VAST's SUP request to the Court as well as to Mr. Chester.28. February 4, 2010 - Authorization for the release of public records is issued.
b. Mr. Chester files motion to allow VAST to perform Sound Tests at Croft Field.
c. Judge Ludwig will rule on the motion after he reviews the transcripts and documents related to VAST's SUP request.