By Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer
The Greene County Planning Commission was requested to change a zoning from B-2 to B-3 on Wednesday, August 21st by CRBFAV, LLC/EARR I, LLC. The specific location is on the west side of US29, just north of the Food Lion shopping center below Ruckersville. Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda gave an overview of request RZ#13-002 stating that the Comprehensive Plan identifies this area as a mixed use of office and residential and that no red flags were presented by all of the agencies that review rezoning requests.
Bill Gentry represented the applicant – a local property manager and realtor – in this rezoning request. The request to change the property to B-3 (see page 33 of Greene County Zoning Ordinance ) is to allow for greater economic development in an area where many parcels are already classified as B-3. The specific rental tenant that the owner has been negotiating with has service vehicles which would only be allowed by a rezoning to B-3.
Chairman Anthony Herring opened the public hearing, all of the speakers were residents of Deer Lake subdivision west of the property requesting the rezoning. Marianne Shepard spoke first and had three areas of concern. Traffic entering the subdivision of Deer Lake Estates is already a problem since the commercial lot uses the same entry on Buck Drive off US29 Southbound. She expresses concern over the environment – both noise and run off of oil and gas (Deer Lake has a lake to the east of the development and just west of the commercial property that fronts US29 South). And finally safety of the homeowners with increases traffic on Buck Drive.
Jeff Womack spoke of a rezoning hearing in 2010 where the same lot was requested to go from R-1 to R-3 and at that time the Planning Commission along with staff recommendations, compromised with the current R-2 zoning due to the high traffic. Logically he questioned why the zoning should now be changed to B-3 when, if anything, the amount of traffic has increased on Buck Drive due to more homes being built in Deer Lake. His other concern was that even though the company that would use the lot had some concerns, the rezoning to B-3 would allow a variety of uses including nightclub that would be very disruptive in front of a residential community at night.
Holly Boggs has just moved into the development in the past 6 months and has concern for the safety of her two children. Craig Herr expressed many of the same concerns and further complained that the entrance to the commercial property off Buck Drive wasn’t up to other commercial entrances with curb and guttering – a concern for the lake.
Herring closed the public hearing and asked for discussion among the commissioners. Vice-Chairman Jay Willer spoke first and expressed concern that he has already seen several service vehicles on site. Svoboda stated that he had been to the property several weeks ago and not seen any service vehicles. Willer asked for a clarification as to the statement in the Comprehensive Plan for this area. Svoboda stated that the area is identified as business/general but that there is no specific intensity assigned, this hearing tonight is what determines the specific assignment.
Commissioner Norm Slezak reported that last week he and Svoboda had gone to the site and in the morning the service vehicles were not present, but they may have been out making calls. The residential area is well kept and from the commercial property in question, there is straight view across the lake to the residential area. He also complimented the residents in coming out and expressing their views . From an environmental aspect he agreed with the concern about the chemical possibly leaking into the lake and also had concerns over increased traffic onto US29. His final comment was there is plenty of B-3 zoned property in the same general area and he was not in support of the rezoning.
Herring indicated that Greene County wants to be business friendly. He hoped that the business would have researched if service vehicles would be allowed in B-2 before entering into a lease. US29 will become more and more congested and allowing this lot to be B-3 would only accelerate this issue. With no other comment from the commissioners, a unanimous vote was recorded recommending denial of the rezoning request.
As with all planning commission rezoning recommendations, this issue will go to the Greene County Board of Supervisors for their decision with the information from the Planning Commission hearing for final action.
Brent Wilson 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.