The Craziness Chronicles: Missing Students, Missing News Articles, and ABC Licenses for Teetotalers

Where are the students?

Enrollments in many Virginia school districts declined in the 2020-21 school year as parents yanked their children out of schools beset by COVID shutdowns. Now that anyone who wants to can get vaccinated can get a shot and the epidemic has receded somewhat, will enrollment bounce back? The first whiff of evidence I’ve seem comes from a letter distributed by an Arlington County middle-school principal that starts out this way:

Yesterday I, along with my other middle school principal colleagues, was notified that due to a decrease in student enrollment for the 2021-22 school year, our Middle School Instruction staffing at Swanson was being reduced by 2.8 positions.

Arlington County school enrollment had declined 4.0% in the 2021-21 school year from the previous year. No bounce-back here. My correspondent asks: “Are public schools shrinking due to homeschooling and people shifting to Catholic schools?”

Your electric-bill dollars at work. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has gone into effect in Virginia, and it is expected to generate an estimated $100 million in annual carbon auction proceeds, according to Energy News Network. About half of that sum is directed to weatherization programs for low-income households. Now Virginians are being treated to a heart-warming story about how weatherization nonprofits “finally have the funding for necessary house repairs after years of chronic shortages.” I’m still waiting to see an article (other than in Bacon’s Rebellion) explaining where all that money money is coming from.

Don’t feel bad, Muslims, you aren’t the only ones. Every so often we read stories about a congregation of Muslims being thwarted by land use laws in their effort to build a mosque. If it’s any consolation to the Muslims, local authorities hassle Christian churches, too. The Virginia Star highlights an American Center for Law and Justice lawsuit on behalf of the Alive Church of the Nazarene against Prince William County. It seems the county is requiring the church to obtain a liquor license to use its property — in direct contravention of its religious beliefs.

Due to COVID restrictions, the Alive Church was unable to continue to use the public school it had been renting. So it purchased an 18-acre parcel, which happened to have an agricultural zoning. To erect a new church building, Alive Church had to abide by numerous land-use requirements including construction of a 30-foot landscape buffer, water retention areas, stormwater management facilities, and a 200-foot turn lane on Kettle Run Road. The improvements would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which the congregation did not have. Yet a nearby farm winery/brewery was allowed to hold public gatherings and build buildings without the need for a building permit, the lawsuit notes. The church could qualify for the same treatment, the zoning commissioner confirmed, if it also conducted “agritourism” activities such as making beverages and obtained a license to operate as a farm winery. What about non-alcoholic cider? Read the gory details in the lawsuit.

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10 responses to “The Craziness Chronicles: Missing Students, Missing News Articles, and ABC Licenses for Teetotalers”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Sounds like Prince William needs some more/better Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in it’s policies, no?

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    My Dad had a saying … “Put a good man in a uniform and you’ll get a better man. Put a jackass in a uniform and you’ll get a worse jackass.”

    Sounds like the Prince William County government has been recruiting jackasses recently.

    1. Brian Leeper Avatar
      Brian Leeper

      Their grand idea for economic development is a bunch of data centers, if that gives you any idea.

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        The data center mirage. That might make a little sense in a rural area where land is cheap and a built data center might generate more real estate taxes than woodland or farmland. However, Prince William County?

        1. Brian Leeper Avatar
          Brian Leeper

          The latest plan is to put data centers on the undeveloped parcel next to the Manassas Mall. Yes, that’s right–on the biggest retail corridor on that side of the county, they’re gonna put Amazon data centers.

  3. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I cannot agree that the church is being discriminated against due to its relgious beliefs. It claims that the requirement to obtain a special use permit does not apply to “other similarly-situated nonreligious assemblies and institutions such as wineries and breweries.”

    That claim is overly broad and misleading. Wineries and breweries are allowed to operate without a SUP because they are agriculturally-related (agritourism). If any other organization, such as an Elks Club, a concert venue, or an amusement park, wanted to build on land zoned A-1, it would be required to get a SUP. The church is being required to get such a permit not because it is a church, but because its proposed use is not in keeping with the zoning of the property.

    Based on the facts set out in the suit, the county has been willing to work with the church. The church only had to get an ABC permit; it did not have to make or sell alcohol, only get the permit. And the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control was willing to issue the permit. But the church is now willing to even do that.

    The church should have investigated these issues more thoroughly before it bought the land.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Why should a church that never intends to sell alcohol need to get an ABC permit.

      Excusing the gross incompetence of government should be unacceptable to every voter-taxpayer in Virginia.

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        Suggesting they get an ABC license was a work-around to enable them to qualify to build on land zoned A-1. If the church wanted to go elsewhere, they would not have to get the permit.

        Rather than an exhibition of incompetence, I see this as an example of local government officials trying to help the church get to where it needed to be.

  4. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Well, no, unless the SCC acted in the last couple of days no bill charge for RGGI exists yet. And Appalachian Power is just going to eat it and not add it to the bills. Why do I follow these stories and try to stay current if everybody is on my beat? Their reported total for auction costs is also low….

    Yep, confirmed, SCC has not issued any final order authorizing charges on bills for RGGI. Will be ready to write when it appears.

    1. Thanks for the fact check. I’ve edited the post accordingly.

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