Greene County PC Split on Proffer Amendment Application, Approves Utility Lots

By.  Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

 Action Summary:

  • RZ#09-001 Request by Wexford Subdivision to amend proffers to lower the minimum square footage on homes – Approval Recommended
  • RZ#08-005 Request Jerry, Kathryn & Steven Worley to rezone 2.66 acres from A-1 to B-3 – Disproval Recommended
  • OR #09-002 Revision to Zoning Ordinance Articles 3 & 4 and the Subdivision Ordinance Sections 5 & 6 regarding utility lots – Approval Recommended
  • OR#9-003 Revision to Articles 3 & 2 regarding equine uses in low intensity agriculture –Deferred Indefinitely

 The Greene County Planning Commission tackled a full agenda during its monthly meeting on Wednesday July 15, 2009.  First, the Commission heard from J. Espie of Renaissance Planning Group regarding the Multimodal Corridor Study. The Commission also had four public hearings on the agenda. Wexford Subdivision LLC applied to amend proffers to allow for homes with a smaller square footage. The Commission also heard a request to rezone a small tract of land located on Fredericksburg Road and Spotswood Trail from A-1 to B-3. Finally, staff presented two applications for ordinance revisions.

             J. Espie of Renaissance Planning Group provided a summary of the Draft Report on the Multimodal Corridor Study to the Planning Commission.  The report compares two scenarios for the Route 29 Corridor. The first scenario is the Trend Scenario based on projections for future growth continuing at the same rate as current growth. The second scenario called the “Preferred Scenario” is a combination of scenarios developed from input at public workshops. The focus of Renaissance’s recommendations to the county is to construct a network of parallel roads to reduce the burden on Route 29. It was also noted that the number of stoplights and access points onto Route 29 are a problem and should be reduced.

             The Planning Commission briefly provided a few comments and questions regarding the report. N. Slezak observed that the report indicates the county has allowed too many access points to Route 29 and this contributes to the failure of Route 29, yet the county gains approval for access points from VDOT. He wondered “What are we missing here?”  J. Frydl asked if Renaissance Planning Group had looked at the effects that partial construction of the secondary road network might have on Route 29. He was concerned with “what happens if we can’t build the entire loop road?” 

             The first public hearing of the evening was a request from Wexford Subdivision to amend proffers to reduce the minimum square footage of a home from 2400 square feet to 1800 square feet.  The proffer amount on homes below 2400 square feet would be $5780. The proffer amount on home above 2400 square feet would remain at the current proffer rate of $2000. Wexford’s representatives also requested to amend the proffer for a volleyball court to allow for the installation of a general recreation field instead.

             A. Wilkinson of Ruckersville Citizens Council opposed the request. She did not believe that lowering the minimum square footage would increase the potential for sales. She noted that there were still too many houses on the market for this change to make much difference in sales. She argued that the smaller houses would have more children living in them and increase the burden on the county.

             N. Williamson of Free Enterprise Forum also addressed the Commission noting that county policy should not be to set floors and ceilings on a home’s footprint. Further there is not firm data that supports the proposition that smaller houses cost the county more. Housing should be allowed to follow the market.

             Both N. Slezak and B. Martin were concerned that the new proffer amount was not enough to cover the county’s expenses. They were extremely troubled that county would still be stuck with the original $2000 proffer amount that was previously approved on the homes with a square footage over 2400. J. Frydl noted that proffers must have a reasonable relationship to the cost of a development. The $2000 amount was set at a time when the proffer policy in the county often relied on what the last applicant did. He also observed that this hearing was not a renegotiation of the prior cash proffers.

             D. Lamb moved to approve the amendments to the proffers. B. Martin and N. Slezak opposed the motion. D. Lamb, J. Frydl and A. Herring voted in favor of the amendment to the proffers.

             The second public hearing of the night was a request to rezone property located at Spotswood Trail and Fredericksburg Road from A-1, Agriculture to B-3, Business. This application had been previously deferred to allow the applicant to address concerns regarding traffic, lighting, impact on the neighborhood and the view shed. The parcel of land in question is included as part of the current growth area as office/industrial.

             Applicant addressed the Commission briefly regarding traffic. Applicants concluded that the traffic impact would be minimal and included a full traffic study as part of their proffers if the county felt one was needed in the future. They also included proffers to have the main access off of Route 609 and to add right turn lane. Applicants would like to have a right in and out only entrance off of Spotswood Trail if VDOT approves it.

             Two residents who live near the property spoke in opposition to the development. They were concerned that they would loose their view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and night sky.  They also were concerned about the types of people a new business in the area might draw.

             The Planning Commission expressed concern about the project. B. Martin noted that several prior concerns had not been addressed such as the intensity of the business and impact on the neighbors. Further, he did not feel that the Impact Study required in Greene County Ordinance 16-11 had been met. D. Lamb felt that something less intense than B-3 might be suitable for the property. J. Frydl noted that three of proffers made by the applicant were simply to follow the county’s ordinances.

             B. Martin moved to recommend denial of the zoning request because applicant failed to meet the requirements of County Ordinance 16-11 and because a site plan was not included with the application. The motion was passed by a unanimous vote.

             The Planning Commission then heard a request for an ordinance revision from staff. Staff requested that the Zoning Ordinance be amended to allow for small utility lots. These lots would be use used for things such as wells and would allow the county to acquire the land at a lower cost. After a brief discussion the Planning Commission unanimously approved the ordinance revision.

             Staff presented its second request of the evening for an ordinance revision. The proposed revisions are to Equine Uses. Staff is trying to bring definitions more in line with what is already going on the county. The revisions focused on clarifying the definition of Equestrian Facilities as well as requirements for boarding horses and giving small group lessons.  The proposed revision would allow individuals to board horses and give private one on one lessons without obtaining a special use permit.

             A. Wilkinson was concerned about the inclusion of the term horseback riding because it is also addressed under outdoor recreation. She also felt the definition of Equestrian Facilitations should be further clarified. Finally, she requested that the student to teacher ratio in private lessons be increased.

             After careful review of the various provisions the Planning Commission did not feel ready to make the changes. B. Martin was particularly concerned that there might be unintended consequences from these revisions and suggested a deferral. Staff noted that there is full agenda ahead and requested that the deferral be indefinite. The deferral was accepted by the Planning Commission.

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