By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
In their first July meeting, the Greene County Board of Supervisors denied a special use permit request that if approved would have amended an existing special use permit the terms of which are not currently being met.
Confused yet? Here is the back story.
Ronald Snoddy received a Special Use Permit (SUP) on October 29, 2014 to expand his auto restoration home business on Mathew Mills Road (Route 607) with approval to construct a building at the back of his property to paint the cars that he restores.
In the 17 months that followed the SUP approval, Snoddy found a paint booth system small enough so that he would not need to construct a new building to house it and, in fact, it would fit in one of the existing buildings with some modifications. So Snoddy was able to avoid a significant expenditure and has been painting the automobiles that he is restoring. [Snoddy was issued a citation for being in violation of the 2014 SUP. He has appealed that violation. The appeal will be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals on July 27th ]
At some point in the last few months, perhaps recognizing a lack of consistency with the 2014 SUP, Snoddy applied for a new SUP that more accurately depicted the placement and uses on his property. Snoddy appeared before the Greene County Planning Commission on May 18th to ask for a revision to SUP 14-009.
The Planning Commission recommended denial of the request on May 18th but as in all cases, the special use permit request goes forward to the Board of Supervisors. Snoddy presented the request to the Board of Supervisors stating he felt he would be able to reduce the noise level of the paint booth and also reduce the emissions from the booth with a charcoal filter system.
The issue is that the building where he wants to locate the booth is close to one of his neighbors. In the public hearing, the neighbor near the location of the paint booth addressed the Supervisors and stated that the booth would be 50 feet from his property. He has concerns over the noise and emissions from the paint booth and sited that the issuance of a SUP requires that the character of the area not be changed which he feels the paint booth would change the character of the neighborhood where the originally approved location would not.
With the public hearing completed, the process shifted to a discussion of the Supervisors.
Supervisor Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) stated that the original SUP clearly approved the construction of a separate facility at the back of the property which did not occur. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) clarified that the first SUP was for construction of a structure farther away from neighbors and would comply with screening requirements. Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) stated he served on the Planning Commission in 2014 when the first SUP was approved and recalled that the location for the new structure was to be at a lower elevation and therefore the sound and fumes released would be reduced.
Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) wanted clarification – are there really two issues being discussed. Planning Administrator Bart Svoboda explained that if the revision was approved then it would replace the original SUP. If the revision was denied, then the original SUP would still be in effect.
Cox indicated his desire to see the operation continue and while there is some noise the lot provides natural screening and he can understand why Snoddy doesn’t want to add the expense of a new building if he doesn’t have to.
Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) was pleased with Snoddy’s approach with his neighbors. But he expressed concern that relocating the paint booth would adversely affect the neighborhood and he wasn’t sure why the building approved by the first SUP couldn’t be constructed.
Snoddy addressed the Board at this point and asked if he could have time to speak to his neighbors and address the noise/pollution issues and would the Board be willing to approve the SUP if the neighbor’s concerns were addressed?
Several supervisors expressed reservations about guaranteeing approval even if the neighbors were satisfied.
Flynn had concerns that Snoddy has violated the first SUP by not placing the paint booth in the structure that was approved. Martin asked why Snoddy changed the location of the paint booth and was told that he found a paint booth that would fit in one of his existing buildings.
Frydl agreed with Flynn that Snoddy was currently operating illegally since he didn’t locate the paint booth per the approved SUP.
Martin asked Snoddy how much time he would need to make the changes to the system? Snoddy stated up to 60 days.
Flynn stated that she could not guarantee that she would approve the new SUP even if the changes were made.
At that point, Snoddy asked for a brief recess and finally came back to the meeting and said he is requesting a deferral of 60 days with no guarantee of approval after that time. The Board voted 3-2 to not grant the applicant requested deferral. Another motion was made to deny SUP 16-002 which was approved 4-1 with Cox voting against the motion.
Despite the clarity of the decision several questions remain open:
- What will Snoddy do with his current paint booth system?
- Will he construct the building approved by SUP 14-009 or will he stop painting vehicles (even though he now owns a paint booth)?
- Is Snoddy going to stop painting vehicles where he currently has the paint booth located since it is outside the original SUP and in violation of the law?
A number of these questions may be answered by the ruling of the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing and subsequent decision on July 27th.
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. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org