The Board of Supervisors approved a request from the Burke Nursery that will allow the business to continue to operate.
The nursery has been open since 1978. After its opening, county regulations governing nurseries changed. The nursery would have been able to continue under the old set of regulation indefinitely, as long as the owners did not change their business.
However, over the years, the business grew and expanded into parts of the almost 22-acre property which it had not originally occupied. It also began engaging in businesses that it had not originally. The nursery had not received the proper permits for the expansion.
It also was using parts of the property for storage, including using rusting trailers, which sat in the floodplain of the Pohick Creek, to house some equipment.
OVER THE PAST three years, the nursery has been in negotiations with the county to bring the business into conformance with existing law. Part of that involved cleaning up some parts of the site.
When the nursery came before the Planning Commission on May 11, Commission Chair Peter Murphy (Springfield) was upset that the nursery had not made enough progress toward cleaning up the site.
“We were moving steadily, but we weren’t to the level that Mr. Murphy expected,” said Tom Thomas, attorney for the nursery. The Planning Commission recommended denying the nursery's plan.
Since the May meeting, however, the nursery has cleaned up the site said Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield)
“It looks so much better,” she said. “Now it looks like we have a clean slate and things are going to do very well at the nursery.”
Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) questioned how the board could be assured that the nursery would not slip into a state of violation again.
Thomas said that his client was now much better versed in what is and is not permitted under the law. “You have a very aware applicant,” he said.
Had the board rejected the nursery’s request, it would have been obliged to scale back its business to its last legal state which was in 1978.
The board approved the new conditions for the Burke Nursery unanimously. Supervisor Joan DuBois (R-Dranesville) was absent from the meeting and Supervisors Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) and Michael Frey (R-Sully) were out of the room during the vote.