Trager Brothers Coffee Tries For Satellite Location At RVCC – Complainant Responds to BRLM Story

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©2009-2013 Blue Ridge Life Magazine : Photos By Chet White - William Trager, who along with his brother Joe, began selling coffee in Virginia in the fall of 1993. Originally from Seattle, Joe and William started their business selling coffee from a cart in an alley by the University of Virginia.  "Being from Seattle, everybody was either in a band or working an espresso cart," says William. Photo by Chet White
©2009-2013 Blue Ridge Life Magazine : Photos By Chet White – William Trager, who along with his brother Joe, began selling coffee in Virginia in the fall of 1993. Originally from Seattle, Joe and William started their business selling coffee from a cart in an alley by the University of Virginia. “Being from Seattle, everybody was either in a band or working an espresso cart,” says William. The coffee crew now wants to expand their operation into the Rockfish Valley, but one person says not so fast.

Afton/Lovingston
Nelson County, VA

Updated 6:17 PM 8.23.13

Since our response from Ms Lychock was posted, Sara Taylor, Manager of RVCC emailed us again to clarify her statements made in the original interview to make sure they are correctly interpreted and not lost in our original reporting.

“I said that Janet had presented her concerns to the board and that the board had reviewed them point by point. She presented those concerns by email. It is true that she did not actually meet in person with the board.”

Updated 4:38 PM 8.23.13
Since our original story posted on Wednesday, Ms. Janet Lychock emailed us with her response to our story. Generally these would be posted in the comments section of our website here, but due to an upgrade on our system that has caused a glitch in our comments box (and until recently our online calendar) comments aren’t possible right now. We are working on a fix for that now. In fairness to Ms. Lychock, her emailed response is posted below, verbatim, unedited.

It should be noted that keeping with good journalistic standards, BRLM tried two different methods to reach Ms. Lychock, both by the only email we had and a phone number, neither were successful. As discussed in our original story at the bottom, we attempted to contact all parties involved for comment. Tim Padalino – Director from the Nelson County Planning office has not responded to our two phone calls, and as of Friday evening 8.23.13, no one from Trager has returned our call thus far.

“Since the comments section on your website is broken, I am submitting the following for posting, per your request.

First of all, I want to point out that what Sara Taylor said in your article is simply not true:
 
“Our board met with Ms. Lychock and discussed the concerns point by point before a decision was made to move forward,” Taylor said.
  
The RVCC board NEVER met with me regarding this matter or any other!
 
I challenge you to go ahead and ask any board member and if they have any honesty at all they will tell you that it is NOT TRUE!
 
THE TRUTH:
 
What happened is that I wrote an email in early May expressing my concerns about the TBC move – specifically the odor that the roasters emit – and suggesting that they be sure to exercise due diligence in the matter.
 
I sent it to Stuart Mills, Sarah Jane Stewart and Gifford Childs.
 
NO ONE even answered my email.
 
The only board members who ever discussed this issue with me was Henri Weems who said that he and his wife Elaine (the actual board member) were looking up roastery emissions online and a member named Sue Chase who briefly – most generally – confronted me about it at the center one day – literally in passing as I was walking by her.

But the board certainly never met with me about it, as Ms. Taylor states, let alone discuss it “point by point”. I am not saying that the board didn’t talk about it amongst themselves.  I’m sure they did, but not with me.

In fact, it was only after I had filed my petition and sought the counsel of a third party from the county that anyone from the board even contacted me to talk about this.
 
What did happen was that I was waiting for at least some kind of response to my email when one day a couple of weeks after writing it Ms. Taylor approached me when I was at the RVCC and told me  – much to my surprise – that the board had already met and voted unanimously to let TBC in and that it was a done deal.   The only “point” that she mentioned was that they would put in a smoke stack to try to mitigate the odor and that it would probably blow north “toward Ashley’s and the nearby farm.” (come to think of it, in that case, it would be blowing toward your house as well)
 
Shortly afterwards, I discovered that the area in which the RVCC is located is zoned Residential.
I brought this to the attention of the county Planning & Zoning director Tim Padalino who had previously told me that he thought that it was zoned ‘Business’ but then agreed that the area was indeed zoned R-1 Residential. At that time, the P&Z department had also just come up with a form that had to be filled out in order for them to look into the matter so I filled it out and – as is required in response – Mr. Padalino wrote his interpretation, the logic of which I found to be questionable at the least, and therefore appealed.

That is all that I have to say here except that my overriding objection is not a coffee house (even one that serves TB coffee exclusively) – as some people seem to think – but the roastery itself. I am well aware that such cafés are popular gathering spaces and that the RVCC has wanted to have one for a while but as I wrote in the last line of my appeal statement: a café could easily be operated without the presence of an on-site roaster.

I really wish that you had tried harder to get in touch with me for the original article but I understand your explanation and I thank you for posting my comments here.

-JL-“

Original Story from August 21, 2013 posted at 5:07 PM
In a surprising move, a single objection has been filed by an Afton resident on the locating of a satellite branch of Trager Brothers Coffee in the Rockfish Valley Community Center. “We were shocked by the initial complaint to our RVCC Board Of Directors. Except for one person, the planned expansion of Trager into RVCC has received overwhelming support,” said Sara Taylor, RVCC’s Operations Manager. Taylor says RVCC began discussions with Trager back in December of 2012 and actually approved the lease in June 2013 after the green light by zoning and planning back in April. When plans were announced by RVCC a nearby resident, Janet Lychock of Rockfish School Lane, expressed concerned about locating the roastery at the center. “Our board met with Ms. Lychock and discussed the concerns point by point before a decision was made to move forward,” Taylor said.


We first told you about Trager Brothers locating their original operation in Lovingston back in our (then November 2008 issue of Nelson County Life Magazine.) Click on the cover image above to read that story on page 12.

LEGAL NOTICE NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS In accordance with Section 15.2 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, and pursuant to Sections 15.2-2285, 5.2-2310, and 15.2-2204 of the Code of Virginia, as amended, the Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals hereby gives notice that a Public Hearing will start at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 3, 2013, in the General District Courtroom on the third floor of the Nelson County Courthouse located at 84 Courthouse Square, Lovingston, Virginia. The purpose of this hearing is to consider the following: Public Hearing Zoning Interpretation Appeal #2013-001, Janet Lychock Consideration of an appeal of a Zoning Interpretation dated July 11, 2013 titled, “Zoning Interpretation Regarding Permitted “Community Center” Uses.” The petition states that the appeal is in reference to a zoning interpretation of Article 2, Article 5, and Article 5 Section 1-4. The petition seeks to appeal the, “classification of coffee roastery as a part of ‘goods and services’.” Copies of the above files are available for review in the Planning and Zoning Office, 80 Front Street, Lovingston, Virginia, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or you may call the Planning and Zoning Office at 434 263-7090 or toll free at 888-662-9400, selections 4 and 1.

Above a legal notice that appeared in the Lynchburg News & Advance announcing a public hearing on the matter in early September.

Click here to download/see all of the appeal documents filed with the Board of Zoning Appeals
Click image above to download/see all of the appeal documents filed with the Board of Zoning Appeals

A special online petition (click here) has been set up by RVCC for people to show support for the Trager move. “In just the 48 hours it’s been active, almost 400 people have already signed the petition in support of Trager moving here. One of the by products of this we were trying to create was a social environment, a place where people can engage. That comes with coffee shops. It seems like a perfect fit.” Taylor added.

As of this story’s posting around 5PM Wednesday 8.21.13 – our two phone calls to Tim Padalino – Director of the Nelson PLanning and Zoning had not been returned. Our attempts to reach Janet Lychock at the last known phone number we had were unsuccessful. And a request for comment by Trager Brothers is still pending.

A Public Hearing on the matter will start at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 3, 2013, in the General District Courtroom on the third floor of the Nelson County Courthouse.

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