Monthly Archives: October, 2008

Greene County Board of Supervisors Consider Electronic Message Center and Ordinance Revisions

By. Kara L. Reese

Greene County Field Officer

 

Summary of Actions Taken by the Board of Supervisors:

 

SUP#08-003 Special Use Permit to Allow an Electronic Messaging Center – Approved

Amendment to Greene County Code Chapter 38 Section III Erosion Sediment Control and Stormwater Management – Approved

OR#08-003 Ordinance Revision – Corner Lots – Approved

Resolution to accept and appropriate a grant in the amount of $150,001 from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Sheriff’s Department which requires a local match of $150,000 –Approved

Resolution to accept and appropriate a grant in the amount of $37,500 from the Department of Criminal Justice Services for the Sheriff’s Department which requires a local match of $12,500 – Approved

Resolution to accept and appropriate a grant in the amount of $91,540 from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Sheriff’s Department – Approved

 

Greene County Board of Supervisors Consider Electronic Message Center and Ordinance Revisions:

 

            During it regular meeting, Tuesday October 28, 2008, the Greene County Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit allowing an electronic message center along with two ordinance revisions. It also addressed several grant received by the Sherriff’s Office and heard a report on the County’s Radio Communication Project. .

 

Before delving into public hearings the Board received a report on Phase I of the Radio Communication Project from George Conyles of Atlantic Technology Consultants. The project was designed to improve communications for Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement which had previously been operating under three distinct and antiquated communication systems. Conyles reported that Phase I was completed under budget and communication systems had been brought up to federal standards prior to federal deadlines.

 

In the first public hearing of the night the Board considered a special use permit application by Arby’s/Grand Avenue Development/Gateway Market Center LLC for a Special Use Permit Center to allow an electronic message center as part of their sign. An electronic message center is similar to the lighted signs that banks display date and time on. Staff reported that applicant had previously submitted two requests related to this sign to the BZA. First, applicant requested and the BZA approved permitting the applicant to display one sign of 85 square feet in lieu of the two signs of 100 square feet total that are permitted under county ordinances. The BZA denied applicant’s request to increase the total height of the sign to 20 feet tall instead of the 15 feet permitted by ordinance. Applicant now seeks a special use permit to allow it to include an electronic message center in the sign. The planning commission previously recommended approval of the special use permit with conditions.

 

Applicant addressed the Board. Applicant felt that all conditions were acceptable except for the requirement that the message change only every 4 hours. Applicant requested that they be allowed to change messages every 2 hours. This would allow them to better market their product.

 

The Board of Supervisors had a general discuss regarding the 2 or 4 hour limitation on changing the message. J. Allen noted that she this requirement was intended to address a safety concern that frequent changing of the message would distract motorists. Shortening the time frame to 2 hours instead of 4 would not make much difference. B. Peyton stated that he was “delighted that they are coming” to Greene County and that he had no problem with this the sign changing every two hours.

 

J. Allen moved to approve the special use permit with the conditions that 1) The electronic message center shall be considered part of the aggregate signage 2)The electronic message center shall not have neon colored lights and shall not flash, rotate or visually move so as to preserve the aesthetic character of the community and promote traffic safety, except as provided in number six 3) The message center shall not be animated in any manner 4) The electronic message shall not scroll across the electronic center 5) The permitted hours of operation for the electronic message center shall be consistent with the hours of operation of the building located on 60-(A)-20E. The electronic message center shall not be operated after the close of business. 6) Electronic message center may be changed at periodical intervals of every two hours, within the hours of operation.  The motion passed by unanimous vote.

 

The Greene County Department of Inspections requested that the Board amend the County Code to reflect the use of an alternate inspection program for erosion and sediment control. Dan Ratzlaff, Greene’s Erosion and Sediment Control Administrator explained that the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation had already approved use of this alternate inspection in Greene County. The program will allow for a ranking and inspection of sites based on importance. Staff requested that the County’s Code be updated to include this change in procedure. B. Peyton moved to approve the change which was passed by a 5-0 vote.

 

The Board of Supervisors also approved revisions to the County’s Zoning Ordinances aimed at clarifying setback requirements for corner lots. The ordinance also clarified that the shortest side of a corner lot is the front of the lot for the purpose of determining setbacks and made the setbacks for nonconforming lots 25 feet. C. Schmitt moved to approve the ordinance changes. The motion passed by a unanimous vote.

 

Finally, the Board of Supervisors addressed their policy for grant applications and accepted three grants applied for by the Sherriff’s Office. Board Members reminded all county offices that their policy remains that the Board should receive advanced notice and an opportunity to approve agencies seeking grants. This policy stems from concerns that matching grants may be received that the County can not afford the match which places the County in the embarrassing position of having to decline grants after they awarded. A second concern is that when grant funding dries up the County may be left with maintenance or other related expenses that it can not pay. The Board made it evident that while they were approving the current grants that in the future they wanted clearer communication regarding grant applications.

 

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Fluvanna’s Fortune Eyes Future

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

 Fluvanna County’s Planning Commission Chair Elizabeth Fortune is eager to finish the Comprehensive Plan and begin work on dealing with the other issues that face the county.  Notably, she wants to address those changes in the zoning and subdivision ordinances that have been neglected while work continues on the Comprehensive Plan.

In an October 27th Free Enterprise Forum interview, she said:  “After the Comprehensive plan is adopted, we will need to audit the existing ordinances, both for internal consistency and in light of the new Comp. Plan.  I would like to see that process begin within six months of adoption [of the plan]”, she said.

Ms. Fortune also cites two other key elements of the Planning Commission’s work that will require quick attention:  the County’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) which is part of the budget process, and a Telecommunications Master Plan for Fluvanna.

After an embarrassing public row over the education component of the CIP several years ago, the Planning Commission’s role in recommending capital projects to the Board of Supervisors was curtailed.   But this year two members — Mr. Barry Bibb (Cunningham) and Mr. Joseph Chesser (Rivanna) – are reviewing the early submissions.  The full Commission expects to make recommendations on particular projects.

The County’s pending telecommunications policy assumed a higher importance after Verizon announced it was deferring indefinitely any new county projects.  Previously, the firm had one proposal turned down, and was delayed on another, both in the underserved Fork Union District.

Fortune was a bit more vague regarding how she sees the current Comprehensive Plan but sees much progress.  “I am confident we are in the home stretch” she said, and believes that it is nearly complete. 

“Overall [I am] substantially satisfied” Fortune said.  “There are some specifics that have to be resolved, and that is why we [the Planning Commission] have set so many upcoming work sessions.”  She declined to cite any specific concerns she had.

Fortune is gratified by the community’s involvement in the Comprehensive Plan process.  For example, the Fluvanna Taxpayers Association (FTA) has offered a draft fiscal impact chapter for inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan.  It would require, among other things, economic impact analyses on many new projects in the county.

 Fortune said:  “I’m very pleased about the level of citizen involvement … the FTA brings up [some] interesting points which have to be addressed by the Planning Commission”. 

Fortune also praised the work of new County Planning Direct Darren Coffey.  “I’m very pleased to be working with such a professional”, she said.  “Overall, he is very responsive and highly knowledgeable [and] energetic.”  Mr. Coffey has assumed much of the responsibility for writing the Comprehensive Plan and sought to ensure that it not only is internally consistent, but also a document that will meet with the widest possible approval.

The Planning Commission will continue meeting throughout November and early December to finish work on the Comprehensive Plan draft.  It expects to provide its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors in January 2009.

Affordable Housing Task Force Draft Report Issued

Forum Watch Editorial

By. Neil Williamson

Last night (10/28/08), in a joint meeting of the Charlottesville and Albemarle County Planning Commission, the draft report of the Joint Task Force on Affordable Housing was released.  The task force membership included a member of City Council, a member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, a member from each planning commission, two members from each locality’s housing committee and a representative from The University of Virginia.  The Joint Task Force also included a member from Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together (IMPACT).  IMPACT has been very successful in focusing public attention on affordable housing.    

The meeting opened with presentations by staff of both Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville explaining where tax dollars (and leveraged federal/private dollars) were currently being dedicated.

The Draft Joint Task Force report indicated seven recommendations for the University of Virginia, the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  The top priority of these seven:

Commit to a permanent, dedicated, annual funding investment in affordable housing initiatives either from changing funding priorities or increasing revenue streams.

While UVA took umbrage to this concept being applied to them as an educational institution without taxing power, not one planning commissioner voiced any concern with this as a concept for their locality. 

The way the report sets the issue up, supervisors and councilors will need to make the tough budget decisions, faced with either reallocating existing tax dollars from other priorities (IE: police, fire, schools, etc.) or increasing taxes (making all housing less affordable) to build affordable housing. 

The task force recommendations continue:

  • Provide support for the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust
  • Support the creation of a Regional Housing Fund to accept investments in affordable housing from both public and private sources.
  • Establish a Housing Ombudsman Office to serve both area residents and developers of affordable housing.
  • Pay all employees, and strongly encourage their contractors to pay, a living wage.  The Task Force recommends, as a first step, that the Human Resource Departments of the City, County and UVa develop criteria for establishing a living wage.
  • Support regional transit networks and options.
  • Acknowledge and continue to support regional non-profits such as Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA), Habitat for Humanity, and the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) whose missions are to address affordable housing.

In Albemarle County the draft report focuses significant attention to possible changes for affordable units obtained as a “voluntary proffer” as a part of the rezoning application.  Such units would face a cap on the value of the units.  The Task Force would require the 15% of affordable units be spread equally among attainable for “extremely low, very low and low income levels”.  The report also indicates a desire that rental properties developed to serve the bottom two cohorts of the affordable housing remain affordable for 15 years (currently 10 years).

The Task Force also envisioned the City and Albemarle County issuing general obligation bonds to fund affordable housing initiatives and writing loans to developers of affordable housing.

The Free Enterprise Forum commends the three bodies for working together on the report.  Affordable housing is a significant issue deserving of such regional attention.  The glaring omission is an objective standard regarding the current unmet need for affordable housing, the community’s goal for affordable housing and clear metrics regarding how these recommendation, if implemented, will address this need.  Many of the recommendations seem to unnecessarily grow government rather than increase affordable housing stock.

In addition, it is important to remember the political climate this report will be issued.  Next year is an election year in the City (2 Councilors) and Albemarle County (3 Supervisors).  While affordable housing is a significant issue, affordable taxes may, in the short term, carry the day.  Every locality is looking at what can generously be called a tight budget year.  As we work through the budget cycle in January, February and March it will be interesting to see how each governing body seek to address this concept of a “permanent, dedicated, annual funding instrument in affordable housing initiatives.”

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

Economic Freedom Essay Contest Winner

Tonight (October 24) during halftime of the Albemarle County High School football game, the Free Enterprise Forum will be presenting first prize for our second annual Economic Freedom Essay Contest.

Albemarle County High School Senior John Russell won the contest.  His essay appears below. 

Congratulations John!

By. John Russell

Economic freedom will never have a static definition throughout history.  It is government and society that defines this freedom, and thus, it is ever changing, for government and society is ever changing.  Economic freedom must also be analyzed from the perspective of the individual, of which there are many types.  Race, creed, gender and religion are all defining factors in the hierarchy of society and play a crucial role in an individual’s framework in society and government.  A progression of economic opportunity can be found in this country.

It tends that the nature of an economy and democratic society is derived from the majority voting class, and until the 1810’s and 20’s, the only registered voting class in America consisted of white, male landowners.  So, until nearly the mid-19th century, financial opportunity or independence was nearly inaccessible for single women, blacks and immigrants.  By the 1830’s due to an expanding electorate and the growth of cities, America’s economy in the north turned to an industrial one.  Immigrants, free blacks, and for the first time, women, were all common in the workforce.  Gradually, as voting rights expanded to include all men, black men, and finally women, the American economy began to consist of unskilled or semiskilled workers outside the home.  The means by which to earn a living became available to nearly everyone in the north (at least theoretically).  Not until the end of the Civil War and era of reconstruction did economic opportunity find as broad a platform in the American South as it had in the North.  As Booker T. Washington stated, in order for a prosperous economy to develop in the South, blacks, must have economic opportunity to avoid the creation of an immobile, lower class draining on the economy as a whole.

Society, plays an important role in the economic freedom of individuals.  In the 18th and early 19th centuries it was socially unacceptable.  Women’s initial role in American society was a purely domestic one and until the introduction of the Lowell Mills system, the idea of a workforce including women was absent.  Immigrants such as the Chinese and Irish were known to be unwilling to acculturate, and despite their obvious contributions to economy, were thus seen as parasitic to the public.  Perhaps the most notable of society’s influence on economic opportunity is the role played against Blacks and Native Americans.  Native Americans were not even considered citizens and were continually shunned and relocated until the early part of the 20th century where strides toward reconciliation and acceptance were made.  Slavery allowed for no economic opportunity for blacks and until the latter part of the 20th century (as for most other groups) their economic rights were repressed.

Many argue that economic opportunity for all has yet to be achieved in this country.  However, from a quantitative view, national legislation provides the best possible framework for opportunity and equality to occur.  It is society and intangible power of the wealthy that determine the rest.

 

Planners Set Comp Plan Vote

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

At their October 22nd meeting, Fluvanna’s Planning Commissioners agreed to vote on a Comprehensive Plan recommendation next January 14th.

After three years, and numerous iterations, the Commissioners settled on a January date for a public hearing and vote after learning that two members would be unable to attend a December public hearing.

Since there were no scheduled public hearings and only one presentation, Planning Director Darren Coffey highlighted several revised changes to the current draft.  Two were particularly noteworthy:

·        The Ferncliff area in the far northeast corner of the county reverted to its previous rural preservation designation.  Planners had considered the rural residential designation area but, given the paucity of development in the area, ultimately changed their mind; and,

·        Coffey also provided a suggested downzoning for residential dwellings in the rural preservation areas.  The draft now proposes:  “very low density residential development  (i.e. less than one unit per five acres). … Large subdivisions that exceed this density should not be permitted by right, if at all, and may not be compatible even at low density due to the total number of lots.”

Mr. Coffey’s revised language did not define the term large subdivisions.

Commissioners had no immediate comment on the revisions, but will discuss them at one of several work sessions set at the meeting. Commissioners scheduled work sessions on November 5th, and December 3rd, and 10th; all of which will begin at 7:00 pm in the Administration Building.

Other Items

Seven building permits for new dwellings were issued in September.   Through the first three quarters of 2008, permits for new dwellings are down forty percent from the comparable period in 2007.

Subsequent to the meeting, Frederick Payne, the county attorney addressed the concern by a citizen regarding the size of the proposed Urban Development Area (UDA).  Mr. Dennis Holder (Columbia) had repeatedly raised the possibility that the size of the UDA exceeded the state size requirements, subjecting the Comprehensive Plan to legal challenge.

 Mr. Payne, stated that after reviewing the statute:  “I am convinced that [the] recommended provisions would be defensible, even assuming (as I am not convinced is the law) that anyone were able to interpose a judicial challenge.  [T]he mandate of the statute is to provide a minimum opportunity for development, not a maximum; therefore … it would be easier to defend the Plan (if we ever had to) against a charge that it provided too much land for development than too little.”

Community Land Trust Paper Released

                                                         

Redefining Real Property Ownership in America

Free Enterprise Forum Examines Community Land Trusts

 

The Free Enterprise Forum released a new report examining the use of Community Land Trusts across the country.  Community Land Trusts change the dynamics of property ownership.  Over simplified, the “owner” owns the house and a low cost, long term lease on the land that the Trust holds.  When the land cost is effectively removed from the transaction, affordability improves. 

 

Community Land Trusts: Redefining Real Property Ownership in America was written and researched by Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer Kara L. Reese.  Ms. Reese’s legal background and her determined research generated a well documented, balanced review of the many legal issues surrounding the unique Trust/Lessee relationship including: property maintenance, property rights, transferability, insurability, and taxation.

 

Under current State law, Community Land Trusts are not possible (See comment 1 & 2 below). The Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust, a diverse stakeholder group of Charlottesville area citizens, is interested in lobbying for the enabling state legislation  pursuing this concept locally.

 

“Community Land Trusts: Redefining Real Property Ownership in America” is being made available to the region’s elected leaders, business leaders, and the media in order to assist them in better understanding this new concept of home ownership.  The report provides significant examples of the potential benefits and pitfalls of a Community Land Trust. 

 

Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson said, “Affordable housing is an important issue for localities throughout the region.  Community Land Trusts may or may not be a part of the solution to the affordable housing issue.   Our goal with this independent research is to reach out to the community and start this important discussion”.

The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded, public policy organization.  The entire report can be accessed at www.freeenterpriseforum.org.

ASAP Speaker Calls for End of Economic Growth

This week a local population control group, Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population, brought Brian Czech, President of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) to Charlottesville for a series of meetings and a radio appearance with Coy Barefoot on WINA’s “Charlottesville Right Now”.  WINA has the podcast here.

It is not surprising ASAP would bring CASSE to Charlottesville as one National Population Control organization, Negative Population Growth (NPG) has promoted Steady State Economy in their paper “A No-Growth, Steady-State Economy Must be Our Goal”.  The paper, written by NPG President Donald Mann, argues for a decimation of the population in addition to the elimination of economic growth.

Economic growth is not sustainable.

Since we live in a world of limits, macro economic growth cannot possibly maximize per capita income in a way that would be sustainable. On the contrary, in the long run it would surely greatly diminish or even utterly destroy per capita income, the very thing that, to maximize, is its very raison d’etre.

The only way to maximize per capita income and make it sustainable is to create a steady-state economy by reducing population to a sustainable level. Population size is, without any question, the key variable. (emphasis added -nw)

Mann suggests a national goal of cutting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 50% and/or reduce the United States population by the same.  He states by lowering immigration and reducing our fertility rates we could stop growing and in fact see a decline in population.  I am surprised his paper does not suggest pulling the plug on anyone on life support lest they take community resources to selfishly support their lives.

Steady State Economics is largely associated with the work of Herman Daly, who literally wrote the book on the subject Steady State Economics (1977).  The concept which applies the perspectives of steady state systems developed in thermodynamics to economic analysis has never garnered significant support in the economic community.  It has however captured a “significant audience” in the environmental movement.

According to a recent summary of Daly’s work written by Thompson Galen in Environmental Encyclopedia:  

Daly offers three large-scale social institutions for the United States to help make a steady-state economy a reality. The first of these is a socially determined limit on the national population, with licenses issued to each person allocating exactly the number of births required to maintain zero population growth (approximately 2.1 births per female). These licenses could be purchased or otherwise transferred between individuals, so that those wanting no children could transfer their licenses to those wishing more than their allotment.

The second institution would stabilize the stock of human artifacts and would maintain the resources needed to maintain and replace this stock at levels which do not exceed the physical limits of the environment. A set of marketable quotas for each resource would be the primary mechanism to attain this goal.

The third institution would be a set of minimum and maximum limits on personal income and a maximum cap on personal wealth. The first two institutions are designed to structure population and economic production within the fundamental thermodynamic limits or “ultimate means.” The third is the extension into human society of the moral boundaries set by the goal of preserving and fostering life—in this case to ensure that all people in the steady-state economy have access to society’s resources.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes, even in these dark days of 400+ point swings in the stock market (and around the globe), the greatest resource any country has is its people.  

It is imperative that the public understand these radical concepts that form the foundation for ASAP’s call for “sustainability”.  Just the concept of the government issuing licenses that permit 2.1 children (that can be traded if you want more children), Daly’s approach gives new meaning to a Transfer of Development Rights program.  The second and third pillar of Daly’s institutional changes for government defile the concept of capitalism and individual determinism. 

Cloaked in the auspices of environmental sustainability and a steady state economy, the “government knows best” cohort of the population is garnering support for new government programs that trample individual liberty in their efforts to control all around them.

Our philosophical rejection of these suggestions is based on our belief that the free enterprise system, with all its faults, has been tantamount to the preservation of our freedoms. 

As American Nobel Laureate Milton Freidman said, “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither.  A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both”.

Greene County Planning Commission Considers Horse Acreage

Greene County Planning Commission

Greene County Administration Building

Kara L. Reese, Greene County Field Officer

October 15, 2008

 

Executive Summary:

        Public Hearing on a request by Alann Enterprises for a special use permit allowing an indoor recreational facility located on a 4.56 acre tract of land – Approved

        Public Hearing on Randolph and Marsh Gibson’s request for a renewal of a special use permit for a manufactured home on approximately 5.0 acres located along Echo Lane – Approved

        Public hearing on Robert Akens’ request for a special use permit to allow a church on a 3.53 acre tract of land – Approved

        Public Hearing regarding request to revise Greene County Zoning Ordinance to permit Equine Uses in A-1, Agriculture – Deferred

 

Call to order 7:29 pm

 

1. SUP # 08-004 Public hearing on a request by Alann Enterprises for a special use permit for an indoor recreational facility located on a 4.56 acre tract which is currently zoned B-3.

 

Staff:

            Applicant is seeking a special use permit to allow an indoor recreational facility. Applicant currently conducts retail sales of pool tables, arcade games and other games. The business is located behind Wendy’s of Route 29. Staff feels that this use is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Staff recommends approval with conditions that applicant comply with all County ordinances, not serve alcohol and not use outside amplification.

 

Applicant:

            Applicant stated that this will be an alcohol and smoke free facility with a family focus. He expects the business to close by either 10 or 11 at night.

 

Public Comment: None

 

Comments from the Planning Commission:

 

N. Slezak gave a report on the site. He indicated that the site looks nice and it appears that it is sufficiently far away from any housing to cause a problem. He did express concern over how applicant intended to advertise and what kinds of competitions with prizes there would be.

 

B. Martin was concerned about that the neighbors thought or if there had been any feedback from the community. Applicant was unaware of any feedback from the neighbors.

 

A. Herring inquired if there would be any outdoor activities. Applicant responded that it will all be inside.

 

D. Lamb was concerned that children might be injured crossing the road from the trailer park. After some discussion it was determined that there was no major road to cross and geography made it unlikely children would walk there.

 

Vote: N. Slezak moved to approve with all staff recommended conditions. A. Herring provided a second to the motion. The motion carried by a unanimous vote.

 

2. SUP#08-005 Randolph and Marsh Gibson request for a renewal of a special use permit for a manufactured home on approximately 5.0 acres located along Echo Lane.

 

Staff:

            This is an application for renewal of a special use permit allowing greater density of homes on the lot. Applicants previously qualified for a hardship special use permit. Applicant has provided documentation from a doctor that the medical reason for the hardship is still present. The Comprehensive Plan does not address this situation.

 

Public Comment: None

 

Comments from the Planning Commission:

            J. Frydl gave a report from his site visit. He noted that the trailer sits back off the road and is difficult to see from the street. The trailer meets all the County requirements. There is really nothing remarkable about the property. Further, the original need for the special use permits still exists.

 

            N. Slezak was concerned about when the special use permit would terminate if the hardship ceased to exist. Staff stated that it is for 3 years or until the cessation of the permit whichever occurs first.

 

Vote: N. Slezak moved to approve the special use permit with clarification that its duration is for 3 years or until the cessation of the permit whichever occurs first.  The motion passed by unanimous vote.

 

3.  SUP-006 Robert Akens request for a special use permit to allow a church on a 3.53 acre tract currently zoned A-1 and R-1.

 

Staff Report:

            In 2007, applicant got a permit for a shed. The shed has since been used as a church. The shed is located behind the rescue squad and shares its entrance with the rescue squad. The comprehensive plan does not address churches. Staff recommends approval with the conditions that applicant meet building and zoning codes, file for a change of use permit and file a site plan. Applicant had also volunteered the restriction that it the church only be permitted to meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 7-10pm.

 

Applicant:

            Applicant explained the mission of his church. The church formed primarily to serve neighbors, but anyone is welcome.

 

Public Comment:

            Four members of the church spoke about how important the church was to them.

 

Comments from the Planning Commission:

            N. Slezak reported on his site visit. He noted that there is only one neighbor about 100 yards away. Otherwise the site is surrounded by grass.

 

            J. Frydl asked whether VDOT had any concerns.

 

            The Planning Commission was concerned about the severity of the time and day of the week restrictions. After a general discussion it was determined that the restriction on days and times were unnecessary.     .

 

Vote: N. Slezak moved to approve the special use permit with the conditions that applicant meet zoning and building code requirements apply for a change of use permit and submit a sit plan. The motion passed by a unanimous vote.

 

4. OR#08-005 Greene County Zoning Ordinance Revision of Equine Uses in A-1, Agriculture.

 

Staff Report:

            This is a request to allow equine uses on parcels of 5 acres or less in Agriculture Districts. Applicant is seeking this use either by right or by special use permit. The current ordinance only permits 1 horse per 5 acres in Agriculture Districts.

             There had been some concern over whether a special use permit could be used in this circumstance. It was determined that because this is hobby farming special use permits could be utilized.  Staff also feels that definition of stable may need to be addressed as well.

 

Applicant:

            D. Sutton stated that he and his family are seeking an amendment to Greene County’s Zoning Ordinance that would grant either a by right use or special use permit to allow horses on less then five acres in Agriculture Districts. Greene County has the most restrictive ordinance among neighboring counties.  This change would bring Greene more in line with other Counties and support the goals and objectives contained in Greene’s Comprehensive Plan. It is also consistent with the rural character of Greene County.

When the applicant moved to Greene, he only considered horse properties. His home was sold as a horse property.  It was only after he moved that he discovered Greene’s restrictive ordinance. He noted that most of the people he had spoken to were also unaware of the rule. The Homeowners Association is his neighborhood permits horses on less than five acres. Further, his neighbors have expressed support for his situation.

 

 

Public Comment:

N. Williamson of Free Enterprise Forum addressed the Planning Commission. Free Enterprise Forum has been aware of the problems caused by Greene’s more restrictive ordinance for about 18 months. It has created an unlevel playing field with other localities which have more permissive equine uses in agriculture districts. He suggested that there may be concerns about neighborhoods whose covenants and restrictions are silent on the issue of horses. He proposed that this be solved by a phased in implementation of the ordinance.  In addition he proposed Greene County allow horses on two –five acres only in those neighborhoods that have an explicit provision in their covenants and restrictions permitting it.  If no HOA exists, the County two acre minimum would apply.

 

S. Hayes lives in the Suttons’ neighborhood. He believes the change is the ordinance would be good for Greene County and is consistent with rural living.

           

Planning Commission Comments:

            J. Frydl visited the site. He noted that the property looks nice and fits the neighborhood. The pasture and barn looks good there.

 

            B. Martin asked what the minimum number of acres would be under the proposed change. He also wondered how many other homeowners might be in the Sutton’s situation. Staff responded that the minimum number of acres had not been specified in the application. Staff didn’t know how many homeowners might be affected by this rule or a change in it.

 

            There was some general discussion about how you place reasonable limits on the number of horses on smaller lots. And how these limits would be enforced.

 

            D. Lamb noted that he thought a by right use might cause some difficulties. He would like to see a special use permit. Applicant responded by highlighting that the County Code does not currently allow them to seek a special use permit. Applicant would like, at a minimum, to gain the right to seek a special use permit to have horses on less than 5 acres in the Agriculture District.

 

            J. Frydl sought clarification on how the Planning Commission could justify granting or denying special use permits in specific instances.  Staff indicated that special use permits indicate a use that is more intense than normally permitted therefore they would look at the same factors that are used for other special use permits such as the character of the property and neighborhood.

 

            B. Martin stated that he felt they did not have enough information at this time.

 

            A. Herring noted that he was sympathetic to the applicants cause but would like to defer to next month.

 

            Applicant noted that he would be deploying oversees and asked that the hearing be deferred until December.

           

            The Planning Commission asked that Staff provide them with some more information on differentiating between a commercial and private stable, limiting the number of animals on a lot and clarify what limits could be placed on the by right use  versus a special use permit.

 

Vote:    A. Herring moved to accept applicant’s request to defer the hearing to December. The motion was approved unanimously.

           

4.  Minutes of September Meeting and Work session– Approved

 

5. Proposed Planning Commission By-laws-No Action taken

Staff:

            Staff looked into the issues raised at the last meeting. It was determined that the 2/3 vote came from state code. Staff recommended that the conflict of interest language be excluded otherwise the by-laws would need to be updated every time the law changed.

 

6. Other Matters –

 

Business Zoning Districts

             There was a general discussion about how to proceed with these. N. Slezak indicated that he would like to hold another work session. He also was interested in getting a second count on what districts each use belonged in from Commission members via email. Staff reminded the Planning Commission they could only send those counts directly to staff. They could not communicate with each other via email regarding the zoning.

 

Comprehensive Plan

            The Planning Commission discussed how the Comprehensive Plan was moving forward. There was concern about getting EDA, the school board and more members of the public involved.

 

Meeting adjourned – 9:35 pm

Greene County’s Last Comprehensive Plan Focus Group Thursday night

By. Kara L. Reese, Greene County Field Officer

 

            The last of three Focus Groups aimed at gaining public input on the revision of Greene County’s Comprehensive Plan will be held Thursday, October 17, 2008 at 6 pm. The meeting will take place in the County Administrative office located in Stanardsville, Virginia. This meeting is open to all Greene County Residents and Greene County Business Owners.

   

         There have been two other meetings that were poorly attended by the public. Free Enterprise Forum estimates that less than half of a percent of the County’s population has been represented that these meetings.

 

After listening to a short a presentation on what the Comprehensive Plan is and why it is important, citizens will have an opportunity to break into work sessions and provide their ideas regarding the strengths and weaknesses of Greene County. Citizens will also have an opportunity to identify areas where the County needs to change or improve.

 

Public input is very important to provide a wide variety of views and ideas on how Greene County should be developed. Free Enterprise Forum encourages residents and business owners with an interest in Greene County to attend Thursday’s meeting to assure that your voice is clearly heard.

Greene County Supervisors Discuss Roads, Budget Cuts and Barking Dogs

By. Kara L. Reese, Greene County Field Officer

October 14, 2008

 

Executive Summary:

2009 Legislative Agenda – Approved

Request to form a Regional Jail Authority- Deferred until November, 18 2008.

Public Hearing to consider the addition of Chapter 38 Article IV Nuisances to the Greene County Code – Tabled in favor of pursuing a barking dog ordinance

Public Hearing to consider the addition of Chapter 38 Article V Abandoned Vehicles to the Greene County Code – Approved

County-wide Cost Saving Measures – Approved

 

 

Call to Order

 

Holiday Board Meeting Schedule Announced:

  • November 18, 2008
  • December 9, 2008

 

I. Presentation of Employee Service Awards.

           

            Service Awards were presented to County employees including: Stephen P. Borders, Gary M. Carpenter, James A. Donahue, Susan B. Rankin, Charles T. Swingler and Sean P. Sellari.

 

II. Quarterly Meeting with VDOT Resident Administrator

           

            VDOT reported the following changes:

·        The 6 year plan needs to be amended if the county wishes to widen Bull Yearling Road to allow for the school bus to go down it.

·        VDOT stated that it had found a way to qualify Sims Road for the Rural Rustic Road Program. It should be added to the 6 year plan.

·        Authorization has been given for the County to advertise for the road to the park. The Board asked that VDOT verify that funding was available in writing.

·        VDOT will be looking at Rosebrook Road to see if it qualifies for improvements.

The 6 year plan will be revised in January or February with the vote to approve occurring in either March or April.  

 

Public Comment

 

            D. Frye expressed his enthusiasm over the approval of Sims Road as a Rural Rustic Road.

 

            R. Marshall is happy that VDOT has determined that Sims Roadmeets the Rustic Road Guidelines. He feels frustrated that it took so long for it to be recognized as a candidate for Rural Rustic and believes that is should be given priority now that it has been approved by VDOT.

 

            Two citizens spoke against the paving of Middlebrook Road. They also sought clarification of what it means if it is on the 6 year plan.

 

            J. Bullock spoke in favor of paving Middlebrook Road. He lives near the end of the road. He suggested that the road only be paved from Hidden Lane to the end of the road. This would allow residents at the end of the road to get out in inclement weather. He felt that the first ¼ of a mile where most residents who are opposed to the paving live is in good enough condition it could be left unpaved.

 

IV. Presentation of 2009 Legislative Program

           

            David Blount, Greene County’s Legislative Liaison provided a brief overview of the 2009 Legislative Agenda. He addressed each of the agenda’s five major points in turn.

·        State and Local Funding Obligations

The plan calls for no unfunded mandates and requests that the state stop shifting costs to the Counties.

·        Land Use and Growth Management

The agenda addresses the proposed proffer and impact fee legislation. It also seeks additional funding sources for counties.

·        Transportation Funding

The agenda includes seeking more funding for transportation and requests that the Commonwealth not transfer responsibility for transportation funding to localities.

·        Comprehensive Services Act (CSA)

The agenda stresses that this is suppose to be a partnership between the state and localities. It seeks increased funding for CSA from the state and a cap on required locality spending.

·        Public Education

The agenda seeks increases for teacher salaries. It also requests that the state stop shifting SOQ costs to localities.

 

Comments from the Board

 

S. Catalano asked if there had been any results from the Board Meeting attended by Hanger and Bell. 

D. Blount responded that he had not heard of anything yet.

J. Allen commended that she thought that meeting went well. Points were made without any real threats.

C. Schmitt felt that the speakers had done their homework. He reminded the Board that the Legislative Lunch was next week. He went on to explain his belief that the current budget pressures could be used to help push forward with unfunded mandates. He also asked if we could get legislation in Virginia that says if the state doesn’t fund it they can’t mandate it. 

 

S. Catalano stated that he loves the legislative agenda the way it is. He believes it contains attainable goals.

J. Allen thinks this is one of the best agendas she’s seen. She likes that it has been reduced to a few main points.

 

Vote: C. Schmidt moved to approve the 2009 TJPD legislative program. J. Allen seconded the motion. It passed by a unanimous vote.

 

V. Creation of a Central Virginia Regional Jail Authority and other related matters

 

Applicant:

R. Maupin, Attorney for jail spoke on behalf of the Jail Superintendant. The jail isseeking to expand. The Superintendant believes that the most cost effective way to do this is by creating a Regional Jail Authority. The Authority would be able to issue its own bonds. By doing this, the localities would not have issue the bonds against their own credit ratings. The expected cost of the expansion is $10 million which should equate to 200 additional beds. The creation of the Authority will also allow them to apply for an exemption.

 

The Jail Superintendant also spoke briefly stating that at current growth rates the jail no longer is able to sell beds for federal prisoners which are a good source of revenue.

 

L. Estes, Greene’s representative on the Jail Board stated that he feels that authority is a good idea.

 

Comments from the Board:

 

            B. Peyton asked whether the expansion is to house local prisoners or to house federal prisoners. Applicant responded that the expansion is necessary to house local prisoners; however, it will also permit the housing of federal prisoners.

 

            C. Schmidt asked about what exemption they needed? Applicant responded that they will need to apply for an exemption from the State’s moratorium on construction. There is also a second exemption issue regarding the portion of federal recovery money the State collects.

 

            M. Skeans asked whether the expansion would cost the County more to run. Applicant answered that the State will pick up increases in salaries.

           

            B. Peyton pointed out that there were blanks in the proposals and asked why. Applicant responded that they did not have the cost estimate at the time the documents were written.

 

            S. Catalano inquired when the deadline for was for forming the Authority. Applicant responded that it was December of 2008. S. Catalano requested a copy of the resolution with all the blanks filled in.

 

            The Board agreed by consensus to defer a decision to November 18, 2008.

 

VI. Public Hearing to consider amending the Greene County Code by adding a Nuisance Ordinance.

 

Staff:

            The County Attorney provided the report on this ordinance. He noted that this nuisance abatement ordinance tracks what is authorized by State law. He wrote this to show the Board the type of thing they can do with a nuisance ordinance. He states that there is nothing in the State code addressing barking dogs. He does not believe you can effectively legislate against those kinds of issues. The Board should recognize that the law does not answer every wrong in a society.

 

Comments from the Board:

            J. Allen stated that she wants a nuisance ordinance to deal with things like a potbellied pig digging up someone’s dahlias, people parking in other people’s driveways, and barking dogs. She believes that inclusion of the word vexed would include barking dogs. A general discussion about the term vexed and where it came from ensued.

 

            B. Peyton was concerned about who and how such an ordinance would be enforced.

 

Public Hearing:

 

Thomas Miller addressed the Board regarding a dispute he is having with his neighbor over their dogs. He stated that the dogs bark constantly. Both he and the Sherriff have approached the neighbor about the dogs to no avail. He also stated that he had sent a “neighborly letter” regarding the barking dogs and even offered to purchase a barking deterrent.

 

Sherriff Haas stated he didn’t believe he could enforce the ordinance as written and proposed that the Board consider a barking dog ordinance like the one in Virginia Beach.

 

Vote:

            A motion was made to table the nuisance ordinance in favor a barking dog ordinance. The motion was unanimously approved.

 

VII. Public Hearing to consider amending the Greene County Code by adding an Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance.

 

Staff:

            The county needs this ordinance to allow them to remove abandoned vehicles from the street and public areas. Staff also requested that the numbering of the paragraphs be changed in one place. The County Attorney pointed out the cause of action in this instance is against the vehicle.

                                        

Public Comment: None

 

Comment from the Board:

 

C. Schmittasked what would the county do with the cars? Staff answered that they would be auctioned off.

 

Vote:

J. Allen moved to approve the ordinance with changes to the numbering of the paragraphs. The ordinance passed unanimously.

 

VIII. Matters from the Pubic  

            A. Lamb provided petition opposing the closure of the dental clinic.

IX. Consent agenda – approved unanimously

X. Other Matters from the Board

1. County-wide Cost Saving Measures

            S. Catalano read from proposed memo to County Staff taking the following cost cutting measures:

·        Implementation of a hiring freeze

·        Replacement of retiring employees will be evaluated on a case by case basis

·        Elimination of take home vehicles except for the Sherriff’s office

·        Elimination of all travel to conferences except of mandatory training by Sherriff’s deputies.

·        Exploration of other methods of efficiency

J. Allen suggested that the Board approach staff to determine if they had any suggestions on cutting costs as well.

Vote:

A motion was made that the proposed memo be distributed to staff. The motion was unanimously approved.

            2. C. Schmitt gave his liaison reports. He noted that participation in parks and recreation programs had increased. He also proposed that the County have an energy audit. The audit itself is free. In some instances energy savings can cover the cost of any necessary changes.

9:25 pm Public Meeting Adjourned – The Board went into executive session.