Will Greene’s Ordinance Revisions Make Life Easier?

By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer 

Greene County Planning Commissioners tackled the revisions of three ordinances Wednesday night, with indications they want to make life easier for Greene County residents. The ordinances dealt with issues of zoning for temporary events, nonconforming uses, and interconnectivity of parcels.

One in particular, the difficulty of obtaining a special use permit for a temporary event, attracted news coverage over the past few months and an outcry from residents unaware the county had such restrictions.

Last summer a church group was unable to obtain a permit to hold a revival, and recently a private citizen nearly had to move  a fundraiser festival in memory of his young son when he discovered he couldn’t hold the event on his property nor could he locate a legal venue within the county. The resident wound up moving the venue to Louisa.  At the time of the individuals’ requests, “the ordinance was in place,” said Norm Slezak, chair of the commission. “There was nothing that could be done.”

Planning Director Bart Svoboda reported that the Planning Department has been looking at revising the temporary events zoning permit for several months since developing their work plan with the Board of Supervisors. But recent negative publicity “sparked an increased amount of energy to get this ordinance changed so that such situations could be avoided in the future,” Slezak said. “It’s been a contentious issue, and we want to respect citizens’ rights.”

The Planning Commission unanimously supported the revisions, which will provide more flexibility for temporary events such as craft festivals, revivals, and other festivities. It now moves to the Board of Supervisors for review and approval.

Commissioners also approved revisions to a second zoning and subdivision ordinance, OR#11-006, which concerns new access management regulations and interconnectivity of parcels to improve rights of way.

Commissioners stated their main purpose is better connectivity that would allow residents to take advantage of local shopping and get traffic off main roads, while not causing hardship for developers in the process. In 2007, the General Assembly approved the new access management regulations, which focus on the location, spacing, and design of entrances, street intersections, median openings, and traffic signals. As Svoboda explained, each of these creates conflict points where vehicles have to stop or slow down, disrupting the flow of traffic and creating challenges to the public wanting to access local businesses.

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Source: Final Report of the Colorado Access Control Demonstration Project. Colorado Dept of Transportation, Denver, June, 1985 and Access Management Manual, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2003. (As cited By VDOT)

In attempting to comply with such regulations, if developers or owners discover that conditions are such that an inordinate expense or other impractical effort would be involved, then adherence would not be required. “The revision is written so that the owner has an out when complying is not feasible,” Svoboda said, such as in cases of significant differences in grading from one

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

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