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Article from today's Virginia-Pilot.

The Ocean View Fishing Pier extends almost 1,500 feet into the Chesapeake Bay and was built to replace Harrison's Fishing Pier. MORT FRYMAN/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

By MATTHEW JONES, The Virginian-Pilot
© March 29, 2007

NORFOLK - Ronnie Boone Jr. must tear down the second-story bar and restaurant he built at the Ocean View Fishing Pier, a judge has ruled.

The ruling, issued late last week in response to a civil suit filed by a neighbor, Sarah Harrison, orders Boone to "dismantle and completely remove the structure."

The pier, which extends almost 1,500 feet into the Chesapeake Bay, was built to replace Harrison's Fishing Pier, which was destroyed in Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

Soon after construction began on the $2.5 million project, the staff of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which regulates construction along the water, noticed that what Boone was building didn't match the original plans.

Throughout 2005, the agency asked Boone repeatedly to submit plans, saying it would not issue construction permits otherwise and that he could face penalties if he didn't comply.

Construction continued through the spring, summer and fall, with Boone saying in July 2005 that he wanted the second story to use as an office and catering facility. The VMRC said this modification caused them "serious concerns."

Once the pier opened, it became clear the second story was actually an extension of the first-floor restaurant, complete with a bar.

In January 2006, a VMRC enforcement agent recommended making Boone tear down the second story, resubmit accurate plans and apply for another state maritime permit.

At a hearing, Boone argued that the bar did serve as an occasional office, allowing him to do paperwork as he sat on a stool there. He said he never did anything "to harm the environment." He said he made the changes during construction because his expensive crane and siding crews were out on the water already and he thought he'd eventually get the state's approval.

P O L L

Should Ronnie Boone Jr. be forced to tear down the second-story bar and restaurant he built at the Ocean View Fishing Pier.

Several city leaders, including Mayor Paul Fraim and lawyer Pete Decker, spoke on Boone's behalf at the hearing.

Harrison (who's not connected to the original pier) and another neighbor said the second story blocked their view of the water and its patrons were too noisy.

The commission voted unanimously to grant Boone after-the-fact permits for the restaurant and other structures that didn't match his blueprints. It also fined him $10,000. Harrison appealed to Norfolk Circuit Court.

In his decision, Judge Norman A. Thomas found that the VMRC had erred in granting Boone the after-the-fact permits.

Thomas also questioned the commission's fairness. Commissioners never considered any of the evidence that Harrison submitted, he said. And one of the commissioners prefaced his questioning of Boone by saying, "I'm on your side."

This, Thomas wrote, "expressed a clear and inappropriate bias in favor of Boone... Such events clearly taint the hearing process."

Thomas found that the second-story bar had no value to the public interest.

Attorneys for Boone and the VMRC did not return calls seeking comment.

Harrison's attorney, Scott Carnes, said he was delighted with the decision.

"It's been my point of view that you ought not to grant an after-the-fact permit for something that in all likelihood would not have gotten a before-the-fact permit."

"On a personal level, it's wonderful," Harrison said. "It's taken all my life for the last few years."

Carnes said the VMRC's attorney told him Wednesday that he planned to ask Judge Thomas for a motion to reconsider his decision. If that fails, the matter could be headed to the state court of appeals.

"I know we're not finished," Harrison said. "They'll fight it tooth and nail to the very end, as will I."

Reach Matthew Jones at (757) 446-2949 or [email protected].

Dennis
 

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Ouch, what a shame. That place is alot of fun. I saw it as one of the best changes to happen to OV in quite some time. I guess I'd feel a bit different if it were in my backyard....
 

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If he broke the law, its his problem...just because he has friends downtown doesn't give him anymore rights than the rest of us have...
 

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Where is that fishing Pier located. I was in Norfolk (USN) in 76-78 and don't remember a pier but do remember the old amusement park. Anywhere near there?
 

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Where is that fishing Pier located. I was in Norfolk (USN) in 76-78 and don't remember a pier but do remember the old amusement park. Anywhere near there?
LOL! That amusement park had the rollercoaster that was blown up in a movie before I was in the Navy back in 1980. It was about a mile or two down the bay from the pier. It is a beautiful pier; it's a shame people have to hate. I think the first judge had it right; he should have to pay the fine.
 
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