By Brent Wilson, Field Officer
One of the two owners of the southeast corner of Ruckersville intersection of Routes 29 and 33 presented a plan to renovate the property to the Greene County Planning Commission on Wednesday, October 15th . Milestone Investment Group, LLC and George & Suzanne Haney, Jr. requested a rezoning of about 1/3 of the corner from B-2 to B-3 (1.16 of the 3.62 acres owned).
Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator/Planning Director, outlined the request that affects part of the property owned by both parties. This is the second busiest intersection in Greene County. The plan is to replace the existing structures with 4 new buildings and to move the entrance off Route 33 East farther away from Route 29. Both water and sewer are available at the site and the owners have 7 EDU’s of which currently only 2 EDU’s are being used [EDU is Equivalent Dwelling Unit allocation for municipal water use]. The county’s Comprehensive Plan supports redevelopment in this area.
Louis J. Lopez III from Milestone presented for both applicants their request for some of the property to be rezoned to B-3. Commissioner John McClosky asked why only a portion of the property was being requested for the rezone. Lopez stated that the applicant felt requesting all of the property be rezoned to B-3 would be overwhelming and the logical place to start is the southern part of the parcel facing Route 29 that has heavier traffic.
Chairman Jay Willer asked Lopez about the proffer related to the design of the buildings for the whole parcels since the rezone was only for a part of the parcel – would the same style be used on the rezoned section as well as the 2.5 acres that would remain B-2 ? Mr. Lopez replied that they would want to have consistent design of the whole parcel. Willer then questioned if the 7 EDU’s would be enough for the development. Lopez felt that the 7 EDUs would meet their needs for the four buildings that are planned that would hold commercial, retail, restaurants and a gas station. Lopez also pointed out that there are currently no gas stations north of Sheetz on Route 29 and he felt that would be a good location.
Next Willer asked if a timeline had been planned for the development. Lopez indicated that the pace of development would be driven as businesses lease property in the new development. When enough business is secured that match the design of a building then the current building would be razed. As he pointed out keeping the existing business in place as long as possible is in their best interest but they are pursuing businesses in anticipation of the rezone being approved.
The hearing then shifted to the public portion – only David Holtzman from the Piedmont Environmental Council spoke about the design of the development. He asked about sidewalks and the walkability of the development and encouraged the Commission that this is the chance to remake Ruckersville to be more pedestrian friendly.
The session then shifted back to the Planning Commission – only three of the five members were in attendance for this meeting – Chairman Willer, Commissioners McClosky and Young. Chairman Willer asked Lopez to review the design diagram on display during the hearing and point out the sidewalks, parking, etc. Lopez pointed out all of the above and addressed Holtzman’s concerns that the northernmost building would front Route 29 and have parking and a patio area facing Route 29 and the area on the south side of the building would have parking and sidewalks. The second building just south of the first building would have a patio area since this is the building designated for a restaurant it would also include outside seating. The third building south of the first two would have sidewalks, parking and trees along with plantings to buffer from Route 29 for all the buildings. Svoboda assured that the Greene County Code would address the sidewalks and plantings.
Chairman Willer stated that he felt this is a good project at an important location in Greene County and it is a step in the right direction and he is glad to hear they are actively marketing the property. Lopez thanked him for the compliment and assured Willer and the commission that they are proactively seeking occupants. The final question of the night was from McCloskey involved the southbound roadway that parallels Route 29. Lopez said they would like to abandon the right of way and make it a solely southbound roadway within the development. However, the road farther east would be the exit going northbound to access Route 33 farther east than access is currently located. They will work with The Daniels family, the owner of the property south of the 2 parcels being discussed, to make the changes he outlined. There being no other questions the rezone was recommended for approval unanimously and the Board of Supervisors will now hear the request for rezoning.
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Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.