You can hold as many unregulated yard sales as you want in Waynesboro. Try to raise money for cancer patients by selling Christmas trees in a quasi-residential area, though, and the long arm of the zoning law will come down on you.
That’s what a local Christmas tree farmer found out after setting up a donation drive on his Rosser Avenue property.
Christian Critzer started the drive to raise money for the Martha Jefferson Hospital Cancer Center Foundation, based in Charlottesville, with the specific intention of raising money for custom wigs for those battling cancer and its after effects.
Critzer, whose wife recently won a battle with breast cancer, hoped that by collecting donations for Christmas trees and giving the money to Martha Jefferson hospital, he would not only be demonstrating the spirit of Christmas but providing much-needed Christmas trees to low-income families in the area.
The city responded in Scrooge fashion. On Nov. 26, a zoning official issued a citation to Critzer for running a retail business in a residential area. Critzer responded by deciding to give away the trees for free while also accepting donations to be sent to the hospital foundation, but the city demanded an end to that activity as well.
The Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute has come to Critzer’s defense, pointing out that Critzer’s tree giveaway cannot be considered a retail activity as the proceeds are intended for charity.
“This year has certainly been plagued with its fair share of Scrooges and Grinches disguised as government agents, threatening individuals with fines and arrest for such simple acts of kindness and charity as distributing free bottled water to the thirsty, giving away free food to the hungry and destitute, and making thermal shelters available to house the homeless during cold winter nights,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. “It’s our hope that Waynesboro officials will focus on solving the many real and pressing problems plaguing their community rather than creating problems where there are none.”