By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Tuesday, October 8th the Greene County Board of Supervisors heard a request to rezone from B-2 to B-3 for 3 acres just north of Food Lion on the southbound side of US29 – expand the options for business to more intense uses. Many see US29 as the business corridor into Ruckersville. The intersection with Carpenter Mills Road includes Sheetz on the north East Corner, Food Lion on the northwest corner, an undeveloped PUD on the southwest corner, and the partially developed Fried property on the southeast corner. The proposal to increase the number of uses on a parcel just north of the Food Lion made good sense to some. But not to the residents of Deer Lake that sit behind the 3 acres with a lovely lake in between.
This application first came forward, per Greene’s procedure, to the Greene County Planning Commission on August 21st and the Commission unanimously denied the request. Procedure dictates, all requests, regardless whether they are approved or disapproved, move to the BOS for final review.
Bart Svoboda, Planning Director/Zoning Administrator, outlined the request (RZ#13-002) of CRBFAB,LLC/EARS I LLC for the parcel on the County Tax Maps as 60E-(A)-6B. The current structures on the property were model homes and there were no red flags by any of the agencies. The Comprehensive Plan defines this area as a mixed used area. The Planning Commission’s report their denial was due to the buffer between this property, the residential area to the west would be impacted and there are many other parcels in the Ruckersville area already zoned B-3 (see page 33 of the Greene County Zoning Ordinance). Mr. Svoboda mentioned that the request made to the BOS offered a buffer area of cypress trees to be planted to block the view of the lot from the residential area to the west and that several by right uses of B-3 zoning would be excluded – dance hall, hotel/motel, night club and non-accessory structures.
The applicant was represented by Attorney Craig Johnson and manager of EARS and Bill Gentry, realtor for the property. They indicated only 1 of the 3 acres was usable for development. The property may be sold in the future and the property just south of the lot owned by Kinvara (the Food Lion shopping center) is currently zoned B-3. Across the street from the entrance there is an auto repair shop on another B-3 parcel. A rezoning to B-3 would make this property compliment the Kinvara property and add to the tax base along with employing more residents of Greene County. The increased traffic by Home Paramount Pest Control, the current tenant, would be minimal.
Home Paramount was represented by Dale Trumbly and told the BOS that the business is a clean industry and has existed since 1939. Small quantities of pesticides are kept on site and they are under lock and key. Vehicles are periodically inspected, the staff is highly trained and they all are subjected to background checks.
Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) opened the hearing to the public and many residents of Deer Lake were in attendance to speak out – just as they had been at the Planning Commission hearing. The issues brought up by the residents included being concerned about the B-3 zoning that would allow different businesses other than Home Paramount, why is this lot needed to be rezoned to B-3 with plenty of B-3 properties already available in the Ruckersville area, and in 2010 the property was requested to be rezoned from B-1 to B-3 and a compromise of rezoning it to B-2 was adopted – why change? Other residents brought up concerns that their property value may decline if some of the B-3 uses were developed on the property , the 6’ trees being offered to be planted would need to be 40’ in order to block the view from Deer Lake and in 2003 a VDOT study said that the intersection into Deer Lake was near capacity – there have been over 2 dozen homes built since then. With the majority of the property draining toward the lake, there is fear of a chemical leak into the lake. One resident of Deer Lake suggested that the owners of the property have their own access off Route 29 instead of using the turn into Deer Lake. The last speaker was David Holtzman of the Piedmont Environmental Council who stated that this area is what drivers see coming south on Route 29 as the gateway to the Corner Store/Food Lion commercial area. He suggested that design guidelines for this area be developed to enhance this commercial area.
After the close of the comments from the public, Mr. Gentry asked to speak to the BOS. He believed that the cypress plantings would grow quickly and in a few years would block most of the views from Deer Lake. He felt that the owners of the property have tried to address the concerns of the Planning Commission with the proffers they have offered and this rezone would be good for the residents of Greene County.
Vice Chair Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) asked about the specific chemicals being used and was assured that solid chemicals are used on site but that liquid chemicals are not stored locally or used in Ruckersville. Supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton (Stanardsville) listed several questions/concerns that he had – there is already an adequate supply of B-3 in the Ruckersville area and what was the basis of the PC’s denial?
Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) thanked the large turnout – “this is democracy in action”. While he said he is normally pro-business he expressed concerns about the topography of the land requesting the rezone. Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) concurred with Mr. Peyton and Mr. Deane. Finally Chairman Frydl’s comment was that the fact that uses within B-3 are being offered to be eliminated usually means that the parcel doesn’t fit the B-3 category. He had concerns about safety issues and would appreciate the applicant addressing them and then noted that the BOS could approve, deny or defer. At this point Attorney Craig Johnson requested that the BOS defer the request and that the issue be brought back to the Planning Commission in order to address all of the issues brought up. The BOS approved the deferral unanimously.
After the meeting, Mr. Gentry and Mr. Johnson explained that they wanted to ensure what the county would require to have the rezoning approved and felt the deferral back to the Planning Commission was the best way to go forward.
It was clear, had the vote been taken, the application would have been denied by the Board of Supervisors. The application has valid points by both sides. the applicant now will further modify the proposal to determine if after they answer the BOS concerns there is still enough value created to justify moving forward with the modified B-3 rezoning request.
One other item of note, the BOS welcomed Alan Yost who recently joined County staff as the Economic Development Coordinator.
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.