Greene County Planning Commission Discusses Business District Changes and Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

 

Action Summary:

PC Appeal for an Extension #08-006 – Approved

By-laws regarding conflicts of interest – Approved by consensus

 

 

The Greene County Planning Commission discussed important policy issues at its February meeting. The Planning Commission continued its work on the County’s Business Districts and held an informative discussion regarding the Vision Statement for the Greene County Comprehensive Plan.

 

Business Zoning Districts

 

             Following a call to order and approval of the January minutes with amendments the Planning Commission conducted another mini-work session to put final touches on the new businesses districting zoning ordinance. The Planning Commission has been working hard over the last several months to revamp the business zoning districts. Their goal is to reduce the likelihood that developers will need to seek B-3 zoning because it includes one or two uses that they would like to have in their development then proffer out an entire list of uses they don’t really want and which residents find offensive.  Some definitions that still needed clarification for the Commission included masseur versus massage therapy, night clubs, and temporary versus permanent farmers markets.

 

At the conclusion of the discussion N. Slezak indicated that he felt that the Planning Commissions had missed the mark with this ordinance. He felt it would not make it easier or clearer for the public or developers. He advocated for an ordinance that required a minimum strip of B-1 transitional zoning between all residential areas and B-2 or B-3 zones regardless of the circumstances of the rezoning. Staff responded that the purpose of the ordinance is to identify the types of uses that are appropriate in a given zoning designation. Determining where the County would like to place each type of zoning is a function of the Comprehensive Plan. Staff noted it would like to see the new Comprehensive Plan set forth more specifics regarding where each zoning district should be located.

 

It is expected that following this round of revision the new ordinance will be advertised and a public hearing will be held in March or April.

 

Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement

Staff provided an update to the Planning Commission regarding its recent meeting with Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. At this meeting, staff discussed the January 2009 Comprehensive Plan Workshop. Notes from that Workshop are available at http://www.tjpdc.org/greeneco/index.html. Out of that workshop came a new draft vision statement reprinted below.

DRAFT Vision Statement

2009 Greene County Comprehensive Plan

February 12, 2009

Greene County will protect and enhance the quality of life enjoyed by its residents by preserving the County’s rural character and natural beauty and by encouraging and coordinating the pace and place of growth and development.

Greene County will achieve this vision by:

·        protecting farmland

·        offering all means of travel

·        supporting existing businesses

·        attracting low impact, environmentally friendly industry

·        encouraging tourism

·        creating employment opportunities for its citizen

·        providing quality schools and recreational areas, and

·        preserving the County’s natural resources and cultural and historical heritage

Greene County’s staff facilitated a lively discussion amongst the Commissioner regarding the vision statement. B. Martin noted that he believed that the use of bullet points was inappropriate and the vision statement should only be one or two sentences at most. Staff noted that there had been discussion over whether the each item should be separated by bullets or commas. There was also some concern over whether the bulleted items should be considered a part of the vision statement or viewed as a separate roadmap for the County to achieve the goals set forth in the vision statement.

            N. Slezak raised an issue with the phrase “offering all means of travel” noting that was a very broad statement that it was unlikely Greene County could offer every means of travel possible. The Commission generally agreed that a rewording of this statement was appropriate.

            D. Lamb noted that he was not comfortable with the term “protect”. He thought that it brought forth images of people with weapons guarding the boarders of Greene County. He also felt that the addition of the terms “present and future residents” would be helpful. A. Herring suggested that replacing the word “protect” with “preserve” might soften the statement some. Staff noted that “preserve” could also be seen as a loaded term as well. J. Frydl agreed that changing “protect” to “preserve” would be a good idea and had no problem with adding “present and future residents.” B. Martin agreed that using the term “preserve” was ok but did not think the addition of “present and future residents” was necessary.

            J. Frydl noted that he found the use of the terms “encouraging and coordinating” and the “pace and place” redundant. He proposed dropping “pace and place” in favor of “encouraging and coordinating.”  Staff noted that “pace and place” had been kept in the statement because some people thought is sounded better.  B. Martin argued that “pace and place” was less offensive. Further, he sees the role of the County to be more as determining the pace and place of growth and to be less as “encouraging and coordinating” growth.

J. Frydl noted that legally the County should not be controlling pace of growth. B. Martin felt that is exactly what counties could and should do and gave examples of other counties who have and have not permitted growth in Virginia. Staff noted that legally the County could not place a moratorium on building because it did not want to grow; however, other factors such as refusing to expand sewer service would effectively limit growth.

A. Herring noted that this is a document that will be available to anyone considering moving to Greene County or seeking information about the County. He felt that “pace and place of growth” did not communicate an appropriate message about Greene County. J. Frydl noted that this was a marketing tool and should not be too overbearing. B. Martin questioned whether “place and pace” sounded too much like a directive to limit growth. J. Frydl responded that it sounded overly blunt and harsh.

After a lengthy and productive discussion the Commission seemed to reach a consensus that it would like to see some of the revisions discussed during the meeting. Staff noted that the next advertised public hearing for a Comprehensive Plan Meeting is planned for March and will be advertised so that all Planning Commissioners may attend.

Other Matters

The Planning Commission also made some updates to their bylaws. They agreed to add a section addressing conflicts of interest. The also approved the addition that would allow for a majority vote instead of a 2/3 vote. 

As Chair J. Frydl indicated that he would like to add an item “New Business from the Commission” to the agenda of each meeting. This would allow Planning Commissioners to bring forward any new ideas or problems that they feel need to be addressed. The Commission will then be able to discuss whether the idea is something that the Planning Commission needs to address in future meetings. No Planning Commissioner had any new business to bring forward and the meeting was adjourned. 

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