VERONA — The Augusta County Board of Supervisors nixed the rezoning of about 33 acres near Staunton to allow for as many as 16 homes to be built, agreeing with planning staff's recommendation against waiving county water-flow requirements for new residential construction.

Officials say the regs are needed to guarantee an adequate water supply to fight fires.

Property owners Martin and Linda Lightsey asked that the site, now zoned as general agriculture, be changed to rural residential. The property is on the west side of Spring Hill Road, about 0.4 miles north of the intersection with Berry Farm Road.

The land is in the Pastures District, represented on the board by Supervisor Pam Carter.

The Lightseys' application was presented during a public hearing at Wednesday's board meeting.The Augusta County Planning Commission, on a 4-2 vote, previously recommended the request be denied.

Martin Lightsey, noting the concerns of the commission and planning staff, said it wasn't economically feasible to meet the county firefighting standard for residential construction of being able to provide 500 gallons per minute of water for a minimum of two hours.

Lightsey said the latest revision to the plan called for "the largest storage tank we could feasibly install," which, when augmented by a nearby hydrant, could produce 500 gpm for up to 90 minutes. He said the 10,000-gallon tank and hydrant could deliver 375 gpm for a much longer period.

He told the board that he "believes the proffers meet the intention of adequate fire protection," adding that it also would give Augusta County fire crews the flexibility "to know when more water is needed or when it can be cut back."

Although no one spoke in opposition to request, the consensus of the board was that despite proffers made by the Lightseys to address the water-flow issue, they were hesitant to set a precedent and allow a waiver of the county's regulations on residential construction.

"We just heard a presentation by the fire chief ... the numbers are what they are for a reason," Carter said.

Supervisor Wendell Coleman said that according to staff, the county had not previously approved such a waiver. If approved, Coleman said, the waiver would have "far-reaching implications” on future residential development in the county.

Before voting to deny the request, Supervisor Marshall Pattie sought to have the board table the issue, noting that once denied, the proposal — even a scaled-back version — could not come back for a vote for a calendar year unless  significantly altered.

Lightsey, however, said he was not interested in trying to further consider revising the proposal to meet the county water-flow standard. He said subdividing the property into four or five lots under the current general ag zoning was a better alternative.

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