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

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