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Portion of Christchurch School property rezoned

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted on January 19 to approve a zoning change for the main portion of the Christchurch School campus.

The portion of campus was rezoned from Low Density Rural (LDR) to Village Community (VC).

The rezoning change does not include the school’s waterfront property on the Rappahannock River.

The Christchurch School Foundation and Diocese of Virginia, owners of the property, want to develop a housing project for its resident faculty members on a parcel of school-owned land. The plan calls for construction of one house this winter, and the eventual construction of four or five houses.

These houses will be purchased by the faculty members. Christchurch headmaster Jeb Byers said the school wants to allow faculty members to be able to buy and build equity in an on-campus home while teaching at the school.

Byers said when a teacher retires or leaves the school, his house must be sold back to the foundation at fair market value.

In the past, the school has provided housing for teachers, but this often creates financial problems later for faculty members who retire and have no house to sell in order to purchase another home, explained Byers.

A neighbor, Tom Gardener, felt Christchurch School did not need the entire parcel zoned VC to build the faculty houses, and asked if the VC zoning on the property would remain in effect if the foundation decided to sell the school in the future.

County attorney Mike Soberick said zoning status accompanies a property, and that Christchurch has to build the houses according to its master plan. If a new owner of the property would want to change the master plan, he would have to come back before the board of supervisors for approval.

Supervisor Fred Crittenden noted that Christchurch School has always been an asset to Middlesex County. 

Crittenden recalled that when he was a youngster going to county public schools, the only indoor gym was at Christchurch. “We played our high school games there and they opened their doors to us even though we weren’t attending their school,” he said. “They have always been good neighbors.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the rezoning.

posted 01.28.2010

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