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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