By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
Following a recommendation from Planning Director Bart Svoboda, the Greene County Board of Supervisors agreed to set a $12,000 cap on the application process for rezoning at its July 12meeting. On May 24, the board had requested Planning Department staff review the application fees, which are currently set at $2,000 + $100 per acre.
In his research, Svoboda noted that fees “from one locality to another vary greatly,” from as high as $35,605 + $200 per acre and as low as $100. “Based on information and studies conducted by various localities, it appears that the real cost to process a rezoning application in Greene County is in line with the current fee,” Svoboda said in his report. “However, it is apparent that the majority of localities subsidize the application process.”
Based on the current fee, the rezoning application process alone could cost developers tens of thousands of dollars. “If we are in the mindset of promoting business,” Svoboda said during his presentation to the board, “I’d suggest capping it at $12,000.”
Supervisor Jim Frydl (Ruckersville) expressed confidence in Svoboda’s recommendation.
“The fees were revised to cover the department’s time, energy, and advertising,” Frydl said, referring to changes made to the fee structure in recent years. As a result, the potential high cost incurred to apply for rezoning was an “unintended consequence.” Frydl said he believed the director’s current recommendation “is a fair representation of that time and cost.”
Chairman Steve Catalano (at-large) also conveyed his support of Svoboda’s ability to determine the development costs incurred by his department and the amount needed to cover those costs. “At the end of the day, you’re responsible for the department’s self-sufficiency,” he said.
The board approved Svoboda’s recommendation, which will go into effect immediately. This is the first time the county has proposed a cap on application fees.
During a public hearing on a request from business owner Matthew Morris of Mack Morris Heating and Air Conditioning to rezone approximately 4.5 acres of a 9.01 acre tract, the board heard from residents concerned about the impact and “intrusion” on a residential neighborhood. Morris has operated his business in the area since 1985 but wants to expand and build a 10,000 sq. ft. facility on the proposed property. Svoboda reported that the county’s comprehensive plan encourages mixed-use development in growth areas that offer commercial, office, and residential development, and this business is located in the “designated growth area.” The proposed 4.5 acre lot is already designated a mixed-use residential on the future land use map, and the Planning Department recommended approval with acceptance of the submitted proffers. Despite residents’ concerns, supervisors unanimously agreed with the department’s recommendation.
In other matters from the board, Supervisor Frydl noted that the board has failed to receive any reports requested from the Commissioner of Revenue over the past several months and expressed concern that supervisors need such reports to determine the number of businesses in the county and which businesses hold licenses or have gone out of business. Frydl said he regards this as a “valid request and a valid report” for the taxpayers.
Since past boards have not requested such reports from various departments and have not followed any protocol in this area, Catalano noted, “We’ve been inconsistent in our requests, so I suggest we put together a list of what the board needs from each department and how often we would require reports” before taking any further action. The end result was the board agreed to hold a future workshop to determine what reports they will need, from what constitutional officers, and how often.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org
(Photo Credits Greene County www.gcva.us)