A decade-old legal battle between a resident and the City of Staunton may have finally come to an end.
It all started back in 2006 when Debra and Frank Belloni decided they wanted to block out the noise at their Augusta Street property. Determined, they got permission from a city zoning official to build a wall. Earl Thompson, who was an authorized official of the zoning office at the time, told the Bellonis they could construct their sound-proof wall—and the couple did just that.
Unfortunately, city officials later claimed the wall violated the zoning code, because it is greater than 3 feet high and sits on a street corner where it obstructs the line of sight for turning vehicles. An 11-year case ensued, which may finally have ended on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Although Frank passed away a few years ago, Debra kept up the good fight.
“I’m not here to ask for sympathy or any special consideration,” she said to the board. “But I think on the fact that we did inquire for permission, and were given it, that the city should not insist we take it down.”
Mark Obenshain, of Obenshain Law Group, defended Deborah Chilton-Belloni. Over the past 11 years, the city has spent $70,000 in legal fees, which mostly came from the tax-paying residents of Staunton.
“I’m not charging a penny to be here. I haven’t charged a penny for some time. Sometimes you just have to fight for what’s right,” said Attorney Obenshain during the hearing.
After the two sides presented their arguments to the board, a number of individuals stood at the mic expressing their support for Chilton-Belloni’s request for variance, which is an exception to a zoning ordinance. As soon as the last zoning appeals member ruled in favor of Debra, the crowd burst into applause.
Unless the city appeals the board’s 3-2 decision within 30 days, Chilton-Belloni is free from this headache.
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