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Ames v. Town of Painter
Virginia Supreme Court
239 Va. 343, 389 S.E.2d 702 (1990)
Charles and Jean Ames (defendants) farmed approximately 190 acres in Accomack and Northampton Counties, with 52 acres being adjacent to the southern boundary of the Town of Painter. Due to a shortage of local labor, the Ameses decided that they were going to employ migrant workers on contract beginning in the 1988 season. The Ameses developed a plan to convert an old six-room tenant house on their property into a migrant labor camp that would accommodate 20 occupants. The Ameses’ land was zoned as part of an agricultural district and did not permit the use of the land for a labor camp without a special-use permit. The Ameses applied to the Board of Zoning Appeals of Accomack County (the board) for a special-use permit. The board conducted a hearing and issued a special-use permit for a migrant labor camp with a 10-person maximum occupancy. The Town of Painter, its mayor, and 226 citizens of the immediate area (plaintiffs) objected to the permit and brought a case to the circuit court by petition for certiorari. The zoning ordinance required that before issuing a special-use permit, the board must consider the general character of the surrounding neighborhood in order to preserve a harmonious community and to consider environmental effects, including effects on neighboring property values. The circuit court concluded that the board did not follow these guidelines of the zoning ordinance and dismissed the Ameses’ application. The Ameses appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Russell, J.)
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