Two years of political battle in Lovettsville, Va., came to an end Thursday night as the Town Council turned back an effort by Mayor J.R. Hummer to gain commercial zoning for his property on the south end of town.
Townspeople who had bitterly protested the mayor's bid rejoiced at the decision, but the mayor's wife, council member Grace Hummer, hinted that they may be sorry yet.
The rural calm of this northern Loudoun County town of 600 was disturbed in 1984 when town officials discovered that the town had no valid zoning map. The Lovettsville Town Council, led by Mayor Hummer, declared that the town should be rezoned from scratch.
When townspeople learned that the Hummers and another council member were seeking commercial zoning for their properties, which are across the street from the Lovettsville Elementary School, an uproar ensued.
The mayor maintained during the controversy that he wanted commercial zoning only to ensure that he could continue to operate his small electrical business on his property at the south end of town.
But in a speech before the council vote, Grace Hummer said she was intrigued by the prospect of putting high-quality office developments on the land. The alternative, she said, would be unattractive, densely packed residential dwellings, for which no change in zoning is needed.
Immediately after the council rejected her zoning request, Grace Hummer told the standing-room-only audience at the Lovettsville Town Hall: "You've got your housing, folks."
Opponents of the zoning weren't fazed. "We won," said Lovettsville resident David Stack. "Darn, it feels good."