By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
As with most localities, different business uses have different parking space requirements under Greene County’s parking ordinance. Unlike many localities, Greene’s ordinance currently makes no distinction among different retail uses even though their parking needs differ greatly. While a need exists for changes to the entire parking ordinance, the proposal before the Planning Commission last night (1/21) was limited to a reduction in required Antique/Craft shop parking.
This ordinance review was originated by a Greene County business looking to grow. The Ruckersville Gallery located next to Blue Ridge Café on Route 29 south in Ruckersville is considering expansion. The current facility is 30,000 square feet and the plan is to expand to 50,000 square feet.
One significant consideration regarding the potential expansion will be the need to have additional parking that meets Greene County’s zoning ordinance. Currently, antique/craft shops are included in the category of retail stores which requires one parking space for each additional 200 square feet. In this case, the additional 20,000 square feet would require an additional 100 parking spaces.
The representatives of the Ruckersville Gallery – Milestone Partners – asked Greene County to revise the zoning ordinance (Article 16-8-9) to identify parking requirements for antique/craft shops separate from all other retail business as Article 16-8-9A. Bart Svoboda, Greene County’s Zoning Administrator presented the request and explained that Milestone Partners asked that the new section of the code read – “Antique or craft shop: One (1) space per employee on the maximum working shift, plus one (1) space per company vehicle operating from the premises, plus one (1) space per two hundred (200) square feet of customer service area, but with a minimum of one (1) space per one thousand (1,000) square feet of gross floor area.” Svoboda explained that this language is the same as Rockingham County.
Svoboda explained that Greene County plans on reviewing this ordinance in the near future but the applicant requested that this specific issue be addressed now so they could determine their cost of expansion. Mr. Louis Lopez III from Milestone Partners stated he believes the current requirement of one parking space for 200 square feet of retail space (which currently calculates to 150 parking spaces) is more than what is required. The additional 20,000 square feet which the current ordinance would require an additional 100 parking spaces. Lopez believes that this is way more parking spaces than is needed for his client’s store. And that the additional cost to provide the 100 parking spaces is cost prohibitive for going forward with the expansion. He believes that the ordinance similar to that of Rockingham County would better fit his client’s needs.
Chairman Jay Willer asked Lopez if the 1 space per 200 square feet for customer service could be eliminated. Lopez felt that requirement could be deleted.
The hearing was then opened to the public for comment. David Holtzman from the Piedmont Environmental Council stated he was OK with the deletion of the customer service requirement and supported the revision. Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum was the second speaker and he stated he believed that the change made good common sense, especially considering the new demands of the federally mandated storm water runoff requirements and he recommended support of the zoning ordinance revision.
The meeting shifted to the Planning Commission. Commissioner John McCloskey stated he was glad to see growing business driving the need. Commissioner Vic Schaff explained that the request was logical and suggested that the commission review all parking ordinances.
Willer felt that Greene County needed to stay competitive with other counties in their policies. Schaff suggested deleting the customer service need for parking. This lead Commissioner Eva Young to offer a motion create 16-8-9A which would require one (1) space per company vehicle operation from the premises but with a minimum of one parking space per one thousand (1,000) square feet of gross floor area. Commissioner Frank Morris seconded the motion and it was passed unanimously.
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Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.