By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
The December 13th meeting marked the end of an era for the Greene County Board of Supervisors as Chairman Steve Catalano (at-large), known for his conservative fiscal decision making, ended 12 years of public service on the board. Joining Catalano in his departure are supervisors Mike Skeens (Monroe district) and Carl Schmitt (at-large), both of whom lost their bids for reelection. This change represents a 60-percent turnover in the five-member board and a possible change in setting policy for the future.
The most significant decision coming out of this board’s last meeting was its unanimous decision to revise a zoning ordinance prohibiting the keeping of livestock and fowl on parcels less than 5 acres in the agricultural district. No one seemed to know how or why the 5-acre restriction originated but all agreed it was particularly prohibitive to constrain residents from keeping such livestock as chickens or goats on their rural property, especially when surrounding counties and the city of Charlottesville all allow residents to keep such animals on much smaller lots. Many residents, unaware that rural Greene County would have such restrictions, have been keeping such animals on their property and have basically gone undeterred until recently when the ordinance was brought to the public’s attention and the zoning officer approached the “offenders.”
Several residents appealed to supervisors to change the restriction, but the two little girls who approached supervisors with pictures of their “pet” goats and chickens and their heartfelt appeal to be allowed keep their animals probably had the most effect. Although Supervisor Schmitt expressed concern about the occasional resident who may abuse such allowances by having too many animals on their property, which would lead to health issues, supervisors agreed that other entities are in place, such as the State Board of Health, to address such concerns should they occur. Catalano in particular noted he would like to see the restrictions on zoned agricultural areas “relaxed,” and was concerned that residents have had to come before the board to ask for special use permits, such as the recent request for an equine facility on a 204-acre property in a zoned agricultural area. Staff was directed to move forward on revising the ordinance for consideration by the new Board of Supervisors in 2012.
In another rezoning request, the board unanimously disapproved what they termed to be a “spot zoning” request to rezone a 2.66 acre property on Fredericksburg Road/Spotswood Trail from A-1 agriculture to B-2 business, citing the traffic impact of the applicant’s proposed use of the property and its inconsistency with the comp plan.
The board also noted that on January 11, the Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing at Ruckersville Elementary School to begin receiving input from residents on establishing improvements at the intersection of Rtes. 607 and 29. And after more discussion among supervisors still unclear on the terminology of a proposed fund balance policy, any decision on setting such a policy was deferred for further review, placing it on the shoulders of the incoming board in 2012.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support our work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credits: Greene County, www.petsandanimal.com