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“Ask forgiveness” strategy nixed, building must go

A Norfolk bar owner tried to justify his sans-permit construction of a second-story bar on the Ocean View Fishing Pier by calling it his “office.”

After the pier was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the owner promptly began reconstruction. Along the way, he apparently decided better meant bigger, and added to his commercial pier, the site of the former Harrison’s Fishing Pier, a new bait shop, restrooms, snack bar and recreational room, and a gazebo.

Owner Ronald W. Boone ultimately built a full-service restaurant and bar, with facilities for nightly live bands and other entertainment. When the Virginia Marine Resources Commission asked for more detail on the proposed project, Boone dragged his feet even though construction was underway on the $2.5 million project.

On the theory that it’s better to ask for forgiveness after the fact than to seek permission beforehand, Boone went before the VMRC in January 2006 to seek after-the-fact approval for the second-story bar he built.

Boone told commissioners, “The bar is where I do my paperwork,” and he would “put something in there where I can get up and out of the way of all the fishermen that come in.”

The commissioners approved the structure, but Norfolk Circuit Judge Norman A. Thomas said the second-story bar has to come down.

On March 22, Thomas said in Harrison v. VMRC that the commissioners didn’t even bother to consider the 100 pages of documents submitted by a neighbor who challenged the structure, or the CD she had recorded of the over-the-water noise.

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