Tag Archives: special use permit

“The Market” Seeks Approval in Ruckersville

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

clip_image006Tiger Fuel owns and operates the gasoline station at the southwest corner of the Route 33 and Route 29 intersection in Ruckersville.  Currently, they lease the food service portion of the building to Burger King. Well, if you want a whopper – you better get it soon.

On Wednesday (November 16thGordon Sutton, Director of Retail Operations for Tiger Fuel came to the Greene County Planning Commission meeting to request a Special Use Permit (SUP) for a car wash at their Ruckersville location.

The rest of the story for the highly visible corner in Ruckersville is that the current building will be demolished and a new structure will be constructed that will offer Tiger Fuel’s specialty sandwich shop The Market.

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Gordon Sutton

Sutton indicated if he received all the required approvals in a timely fashion, he hoped the project including the car wash will be completed by end of next summer. The car wash is to be manned similar to other Tiger Fuel operations in Albemarle County.

Sutton came to the Planning Commission to request a Special Use Permit (SUP#16-005) for the car wash which is required by code. The balance of the project is permitted by right under the existing B-3 Zoning and, therefore, the SUP is limited to the car wash use.

There were no comments from the public. Several changes to the current layout are proposed.  There will only be one access point off Route 29 instead of the two that currently exist. The placement of the pumps will be rearranged to discourage drivers cut off the corner of Route 33 west and Route 29 south to avoid the stop light. The car wash will be constructed in the open space just west of the current building.

clip_image002While outside the purview of the Planning Commission, Chairman Jay Willer mentioned that Tiger Fuel will need to purchase increased water connection fees (known as Equivalent Dwelling Units or EDU’s).

Commissioner Vic Schaff  asked how much water will be used by the car wash. Planning Director Bart Svoboda said the car wash will recycle water which will minimize the consumption of water from 50-60 gallons per car at a normal car wash down to 22 gallons per car.

With only four commissioners present, the SUP was recommended for approved by a vote of 4-0. The SUP request will now go to the Board of Supervisors for their review and possible action at their December meetings.

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

Greene PC Reviews Special Use Permit Process

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

With a new commissioner, William Sanders, on board the Greene County Planning Commission held a public hearing to review the ordinance for issuance of Special Use Permits (SUP) in their February  meeting. The process was last revised when Gerald Ford was in the White House (1975).

Last year, the Planning Commission held two meetings focused on the topic and the Board of Supervisors held a November public hearing  on the proposal (OR#15-002).  Many of the public comments at the Board Public hearing were concerned with the scope of the information required from applicants and others questioned if the ordinance was “business friendly” as written.  After the public hearing, the Board unanimously referred the issue back to the Planning Commission.

According to the staff report:

Additional research performed since the Board of Supervisors meeting has indicated that the wording for special use permit regulations vary greatly from one locality to another.  it is clear from the review of other localities regulations that all possible variations of the special use permit uses cannot be accommodated in an ordinance.  The General Assembly appears to agree because special use permit uses are considered by the governing body to have greater impacts on neighboring properties than those permitted by right.  Special Use Permits are “special” in that they may be approved in one area of a zoning district but not in another.  The impacts from noise, traffic, storage, pollution, etc. of a special use permit use located on 10 or 20 acres varies greatly from the same impact located on a quarter acre lot or within a neighborhood area.

Special use permits are reviewed using reasonable standards, some of which may be contained within local, state, or federal regulations.  However, there may also be other standards based on reasonable zoning principles that arise from impacts created by the type, location and nature of the proposed use.

Planning Administrator Bart Svoboda presented proposed revisions that staff worked on adding 16-2-6 and 16-2-7 and to have them in synch with Va. State code 15.2.28B.

The Planning Commission discussed several other portions of the regulations, in particular, did all the conditions for the SUP need to be listed and what takes precedent – the zoning ordinance or the SUP, if they are different? Saunders asked if Greene County code needs to specify what the state code states or just refer to the state code.

Commissioner Frank Morris asked who is to inspect and enforce the SUP’s that are approved.  Svoboda stated that the building official may inspect situations but that the enforcement would be the responsibility of the Zoning Administrator – himself.

The hearing then shifted to the Public Comment section and former Planning Commissioner Eva Young asked about 16-2-1 the noncompliance notification process. She stated that other localities allow up to one year to be notified and she would like to see the Planning Commission be more stringent in contacting applicants.

The hearing then shifted back to discussion among the commissioners. Commissioner John McCloskey asked about code 16-2-6 and if it were to be more restrictive than the SUP allowed. Svoboda stated that what would be in force would be the code that was in place at the time of the action and ordinances passed after would not be required to be followed. But if an addition or change was requested the applicant would be held to the current ordinance.

Discussion then shifted to 16-2-4 with Commissioner Frank Morris stating he felt this was confusing while Commissioner Vic Schaff liked it and thought it was more streamlined. The next issue addressed what the process of revising code and what role the Planning Director should play in developing proposed new codes. Svoboda stated that currently he and staff prepare a draft as a starting point for discussion. The thinking is that this takes the task off the “to do” list of the Planning Commission. Chairman Jay Willer agreed that the Planning Commission could make any changes they would like.

Willer also brought up in section 16-2-4 and other sections where it is stated that the ordinance is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the county – he proposed adding “to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan”? Svoboda said that normally ordinances are changed to match the Comprehensive Plan.  McCloskey agreed that the statement should include the comment of the Comprehensive Plan.  Morris stated that he would prefer more time to review the changes however, McCloskey felt that changes should be made in a timely manner if possible and Schaff agreed.

Lastly, Willer addressed code 16-2-1 and suggested that items a, b, c, and d be listed first and then followed with what is currently leading the code – i.e. the Zoning Administrator may ask for additional information. Also, Willer suggested revising 16-2-3a to state that the SUP should not change the pattern of the area to include – shall not “adversely” change the pattern of the area.

A motion to recommend approval of the changes was made and seconded with a 4-1 vote in favor of the changes, with Morris voting against. The changes will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for their review and possible 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.  To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Greene Supervisors Approve Mount Vernon UMC Permit

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Mount Vernon United Methodist Church requested a Special Use Permit (SUP 15-005) at the October 27th Greene County Board of Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church - Stanardsville, VASupervisor’s meeting. The SUP is to bring the non-conforming church into conformance and allow for future expansions since it is slightly below the two acre minimum.

What is a non-conforming use?  Any building or land that is lawfully in use, and in which the zoning district changes or the zoning text is amended, and the building or land no longer adheres to the regulations of that new district. Often this situation is referred to as “grandfathered,” however the correct terminology is non-conforming.  As Mount Vernon UMC has been in existence longer than the zoning ordinance and it conflicts, it is deemed a non-conforming use.

Such use is fine until the property owner wished to make changes to the property, then the property must be brought “into conformance” with current zoning.

Country Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda  explained that the church is located on Route 810 (76 Garth Road) in the western part of Greene County. Specifically, the church wants to install three “No Parking” signs on Route 810 to make the stretch of Route 810 safer.

Kendall Tata spoke on behalf of the applicant and explained that Mount Vernon Church wants to conform with the county code. The hearing then switched to comments from the public. Ginger Morris, an adjoining land owner, spoke out about her driveway being blocked by people wanting to visit the church’s peace garden. Another comment was also about their drive being blocked by churchgoers and those attending a wedding at the church.

Tata followed up the public comment by addressing concerns about closing Garth Road for 30 minutes and the church had a County issued permit to do so for a 5K race. She again stated that the church only wants to get into compliance and she thanked Bart Svoboda for coming to the church and explaining the impact of the SUP.

The meeting then shifted to the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District, expressed concern about the Morris’s ability to get in and out of their driveway. Supervisor Eddie Deane. Large, commented to Svoboda that the old right of way is not shown on the current plot.

Greene Supervisor Jim Frydl

Greene Supervisor Jim Frydl

Supervisor Jim Frydl, Midway District, stated that the peace garden is not part of the SUP, it is only to have the church come into compliance with county code. And if a gazebo is desired, then it will have to come under a separate SUP later. Supervisor Davis Lamb, Ruckersville District, stated that it is 260 feet from the church parking to the peace garden and he is concerned that there is no walkway and that people will walk in the road.  Frydl didn’t feel that the county could require that the church add a sidewalk as a part of the SUP.

Martin stated that he hoped the church would add a sidewalk in the future. Frydl made a motion to approve the SUP and it was approved on a vote of 4-1 with Supervisor Deane voting against the request.

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

Photo Credits: Facebook, Greene County

Greene BOS Denies Ruckersville Shooting Range

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Greene County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to deny a Special Use Permit for a shooting range in Ruckersville, just east of the Route 29 and 33 intersection.

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Lyle Durrer, owner Big Iron Outdoors

Ellis Lyle II, Tammy Durrer and Virginia Durrer (owners of Big Iron Outdoors) Special Use Permit, #15-002, request was heard at the October 13th supervisors meeting.  The meeting was moved to the William Monroe High School Performing Arts Center to accommodate a larger than average citizen turnout.

If granted, the proposed Special Use Permit would allow the construction of an open air shooting range on the southwest 2 acres of their 105 acres which is zoned A-1.

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A strongly polarized crowd attended the meeting and 68 people signed up to speak. At issue were the property rights of the Durrers vs. the concern of over 300 homeowners in a two mile radius and whether the shooting range would change the character of the community. The allowance of a shooting range is allowed only with a Special Use Permit in A-1, Agriculture districts.

Director/Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda outlined the request with the main points being the range is to be located .2 of a mile for Route 33, close to multiple residential areas and generating a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) estimated 350 trips per week.

In presenting his proposal, Durrer indicated he had been contacted by the Greene County Economic Development Authority last September and encouraged to pursue the project.  He indicated there are no existing ranges in Greene and he believes he has met all the requirements of a Special Use Permit.  Durrer also said he has contacted several expert companies to help with the design of the range. Further, he estimated the economic benefit to the county of over $90,000 per month and he had a letter from Commissioner of Revenue, Larry Snow, that nothing built in the county in 28 years has caused property values to decline. And finally, he believes the noise escaping the range will be no louder than the ambient noise surrounding the range.

In summary, Durrer stated he believes he has exceeded the special use permit requirements. He asked the Board not to default to NIMBY outcries. And finally when he asked supporters of the shooting range to stand – nearly half of the audience stood.

The public hearing with the 63 speakers being split 14 for and 49 against. Speakers ranged from children speaking out of fear to military experts. The theme coming from the majority of those against the range was they didn’t oppose it per se, but they opposed the specific location of an open shooting range. In fact, many of those against this request were shooters in favor of a range in Greene County, just not in the location in Ruckersville.

Those in favor of the range stressed that there is no range in Greene to shoot at and as a result many shoot at targets on trees with no buffer to catch stray bullets. A range would be a much safer environment for the county and provide training for shooters as well as a local training facility for the Sheriff’s Dept. Related, Sheriff Steve Smith spoke in favor of the application.

Many of those opposed to the range in Ruckersville stated they had made extensive searches in central Virginia where to retire to and chose Greene County due to its relative low cost of living and the tranquil setting while still being relatively close to shopping, restaurants, etc. Several indicated had they known the shooting range might be located in Ruckersville they would not have bought their home there.

Attorney Michael Derdeyn, representing a group against the range, spoke to the legality of the issue and urged the Board to do the same in their decision making. By definition, a shooting range is not a by right use allowed in A-1 and it must have a Special Use Permit to allow it. The statue requires that the Board of Supervisors look to see if the shooting range would change the character of the area – in this case, he believes it does.

One of the major issues of those opposed to the Special Use Permit being granted was the range would lower the values of their homes – in some cases, a large portion of their life savings. Others argued that other ranges have not lowered the value of homes near the range. A key issue brought up is what came first – the shooting range or the homes? In most cases the shooting range was built in the country and then homes were built near the range – the point being that the market set the price of the homes given the knowledge of a range being close. However, in this case, homes in several neighborhoods were built with no thought of a shooting range being in the area. Logically, the building of a range after the market had set the price at one level, would, as several realtors spoke, significantly reduce property values.

The 45th speaker, Jenny Strange, pointed out what she believed clearly would disallow the open air shooting range. In the Agricultural (A-1) District, the following are the only uses that can be granted by Special Use Permit. Note item #8 which states “Indoor” shooting ranges. The range that the Durrer’s are seeking is an “open’ shooting range. So, by code, the range could not be allowed – see the list of uses allowed by Special Use Permit in A-1……

4-1-2 Uses Permitted by Special Use Permit

Same as Conservation C-1 plus:

.1 Temporary or permanent dwellings for farm workers, where the land’s primary use meets the

definition of general or high intensity agriculture.

.2 Commercial kennels, as defined in Article 22 and subject to the provisions of Section 4-11 and where

the kennel is at least 300 feet from the closest adjoining property line. (Revised 5/12/09)

.3 Veterinary clinics and veterinary hospitals.

.4 Volunteer fire and rescue facilities.

.5 Commercial warehouses for bulk agricultural products.

.6 Private airports and heliports.

.7 Dinner theaters and outdoor performance spaces where the seating capacity does not exceed 500

persons.

.8 Indoor shooting ranges.

.9 Country clubs, community centers, swimming, tennis, golf, fishing, and gun clubs and similar uses.

.10 Carnivals, fairs and circuses — temporary only. (Revised 1/11/05)

.11 Commercial cemeteries and memorial parks.

.12 Child care centers.

.13 Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers.

.14 Adult day-care centers.

.15 Meeting places for clubs, fraternal and civic organizations.

.16 Home businesses, as defined.

.17 Extraction and processing of natural resources for commercial use.

.18 Garden centers.

.19 Observation Tower–In addition to the criteria listed in 16-2, the Planning Commission shall consider the following in its review of Special Use Permit requests for Observation Towers; lighting, security & access, distance from the nearest hard surface road or state maintained road, size of the parcel on which the tower is to be built and construction materials and design of the tower. (9/25/01)

.20 Outdoor Recreational Facilities. (adopted 1/8/02)

.21 Mulch production facility. (Revised 1/11/05)

.22 Group home or home for developmentally disabled persons (per Code of Virginia.) (Revised 1/11/05)

.23 Residential Accessory Structure—greater than 768 square feet (Revised 8/18/05)

****Clarification 10/19 – The first line in this section of code references “Same as Conservation C-1 plus:” — as open air ranges ARE permitted by Special Use Permit in C-1 Districts so they are also permitted by SUP in A-1 — The Free Enterprise Forum regrets any confusion — Neil Williamson Editor *****

About 2/3rd of the way through the public speakers, Marie Durrer  – retired Circuit Court Clerk of Greene County, spoke that there had been no complaints about shooting on her property until the hearings started. Her family has a right to pursue this business. It is safe and controlling an activity for the county and it will have a positive impact to Greene by generating additional tax revenue.

Bill Martin Greene County Supervisor

Supervisor Bill Martin

The Supervisors then considered the request. Supervisor Bill Martin said he visited the property and he asked Durrer if the design he is proposing exists anywhere in the country. Durrer stated that one is being built in California. Martin pointed out that when the Special Use Permit for the store was granted it specifically stated that no gun range would be allowed in the future.

Supervisor Davis Lamb pointed out that the SUP regulations allowed in A-1 can only be granted for indoor facilities and open facilities are not listed. Supervisor Eddie Deane went to the property and spoke with Troy Accoustics  about the level of sound and was told that 70 DB’s is what should be expected outside the range.

Martin thanked all the citizens that spoke and for the over 100 contacts related to this issue. It is obvious that we need a range in Greene County but we need it to be safe. However, when Big Iron received their SUP for their store they were specifically told that a range would not be allowed. Further, per Article 16-2, issuing a Special Use Permit cannot change the character of the area which he believes the range would do.

Supervisor Jim Frydl then spoke and he told the audience that the applicants were in their rights to ask for the hearing. He also pointed out that a SUP goes with the land not with the owner of the land. So even if the Durrers later sold the land, the SUP would stay in effect. For him, the letters from multiple developers stating that the range would negatively impact the property values in the area was a key issue.

Supervisor Eddie Deane

Supervisor Eddie Deane

Deane challenged the issue of changing the characteristic of an area. His example is the addition of Tractor Supply in front of the residential community on Route 33 west of Ruckersville. This property was developed as a mixed use parcel and the addition of commercial property in front was in the original design that the home owners knew would occur when they built their homes.

Lamb spoke to the range in Yorktown, Va. and that the range was built first before homes were built around the range. Chairman David Cox then spoke to the fact that the county would be safer having a shooting range rather than having individuals firing all around the county and he supported the range.

Finally, Supervisor Lamb made a motion, going into great detail of state and local code to support the motion, to deny the Special Use Permit request with the main point being that the shooting range would change the neighborhood per Section 16-2aSection 16-2a . Frydl seconded the motion and he, Lamb and Martin voted in favor while Cox and Deane voted against the motion to disallow the Special Use Permit.

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

Photo Credits: Greene County, NBC29

Greene PC Considers Location, Location for Houses and……Firing Ranges

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

On September 16th, a split decision by the Greene County Planning Commission recommended denial of a Special Use Permit request for a firing range just east of Ruckersville on Route 33.

After a lengthy public hearing on August 19th, the Planning Commission opted to defer their decision until their next meeting.  At the September 16th meeting Lyle Durrer, owner of Big Iron Outdoors, came back with additional information that the Planning Commission had requested at their original meeting – detail of the building, safety zones, sound issues, etc. Home owners in the area of the proposed site have joined together to form the Greene County Neighbors, LLC in Opposition to the Open Range, SUP # 15-001/2.

Lyle Durrer, owner Big Iron Outdoors

Lyle Durrer, owner Big Iron Outdoors

Durrer explained that the proposed property is a containment range – not a fully enclosed range. The site plan contains 8” thick walls, 4 foot wide firing lanes that are at least 7 foot tall (they may be higher depending on how deep they can dig them out) – Durrer commented “not much can escape”. He further outlined that safety issues will be reviewed daily and a round count by lane will be maintained to determine when to clean the lanes and recycle the material.

Durrer hired Troy Industries to study the range design and see how to keep the noise level down to the required level. The “Standard Operating Procedure” is drafted but will be finalized when the county tells him what he is allowed vs. not allowed to do.

Planning Commission Chairman Jay Willer again expressed concern about the need for specifics. Durrer asked Willer what specifically he was questioning and Willer gave an example by asking about the options of the thickness of the walls – 2 feet block vs. 8 inch thick poured concrete.  Durrer explained that the 2 feet cinder block has potential to shatter and he would go with the poured concrete walls.

Commissioner Vic Schaff asked how often the lanes would be cleaned and Durrer replied that his research has told him that just over a year is what he has found as to how frequently to clean the lanes. Schaff also expressed a need for more specific information similar to Willer’s concern. Durrer understood that a site plan was required for this hearing and questioned whether everyone applying for a SUP provide engineering drawings? He stated he would build to the code – “don’t you trust me”?

Willer stated that if this was an issue of building a house there would be less concern about the details. Because a firing range has extreme safety issues to be considered we need to be sure we get it right. It may be unfair to you and we trust you but need to be sure this is a safe project that doesn’t change the character of the area it is proposed in.

Commissioner Frank Morris said he was confused as to why the level of detail was being requested for this SUP. Commissioner John McCloskey was not questioning that the project would be built in compliance with county code – but the project may not provide safety and sound levels needed for this particular area – a growth area near Ruckersville and heavy residential area.

Durrer expressed his frustration and stated he was at a loss as to what is needed by the county and felt he has provided what is needed for a special use permit. And that the firing range would be an economic benefit to Greene County and it will be in compliance with county code.

Willer spoke to the location issue and asked “is this the right place for a firing range”? It is a good business opportunity for Greene County but the location is his biggest probleclip_image002m with this SUP. Commissioner McCloskey agreed with Willer and stated that the location issue is his largest concern and he doesn’t want to keep asking Mr. Durrer for more information is the location trumps all other issues.

Schaff felt the firing range could potentially work in the proposed are but he has some concerns.  Morris stated he felt the firing range would work in the Ruckersville area. He also stated having shooting done in a controlled environment would be much better than uncontrolled shooting on farms throughout Greene County. Commissioner Eva Young agreed with McCloskey about no need to ask Durrer for more details but agrees with Morris that the proposed site appears to be safe and supports the SUP.

Morris made a motion to approve the SUP and it was voted down 2-3 with Schaff, McCloskey and Willer voting nay. At this point Morris asked Durrer if he would change the location of the firing range and his answer was – NO. Commissioner Schaff made a motion to deny the SUP based on VA Code Section 16-2a  which speaks to projects changing the character of an area. This motion was approved with the same people voting aye for a 3-2 approval.

Willer reminded all that this is only a recommendation that gets passed on to the Board of Supervisors and they will make the final decision. After the hearing, the commission discussed “Approval of the August 19th minutes at the PAC” when the public hearing of the firing range was held. Morris asked that as much detail as possible be provided.

After some discussion, it was decided to refine the record to show each speaker’s comments that were unique. When a comment was consistent with previous speakers it wasn’t recorded in detail. This need for detail was spurred by the talk of a potential lawsuit on this issue.

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

Photo Credits: Greene County, NBC29

Greene Planning Commission Considers Ruckersville Firing Range

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

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Lyle Durrer, Big Iron Outdoors

Last Wednesday (8/19) the Greene County Planning Commission held the best attended public hearing in recent memory.  The issue on the agenda was a Special Use Permit (SUP) request to construct and operate a public firing range near the intersection of US 29 and Route 33.

The applicant, Lyle Durrer, owns and operates a gun shop named Big Iron Outdoors in Ruckersville just east of US 29.  He has found that his customers regularly have asked – “where can we shoot in Greene County?” – and he had to tell them there were no public gun ranges in the county.  This demand from the marketplace lead Durrer to seek a Special Use Permit to open a shooting range on a family owned parcel next to his Ruckersville gun shop.

clip_image004A SUP is required as the land Durrer wishes to place the gun rage is zoned A-1 and  does not allow a public shooting range by right.

Typically the Planning Commission meets the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 at the county office building. However, there has been a great deal of discussion in Greene County about this SUP so the meeting was moved to William Monroe High School’s Performing Arts Center and the time moved up to 6:30 in anticipation of a large number of comments from the public.

With the location of the firing range being close to several housing developments, there has been a significant and organized effort opposed to the location and design of the project.

Planning Commission Chairman Jay Willer welcomed the crowd and said he was thrilled with the turnout regardless of which way you feel on the issue.

After Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda outlined the SUP request, Durrer addressed the commission about his plans for the firing range. He explained that there is no range in Greene County and his customers have been asking for a safe place to shoot. He also met with Greene’s Economic Development Authority along with other range owners, and engineers on how to build a shooting range.

Durrer said that he spoke to neighbors in the Godalming subdivision and has not refused to speak with anyone about the range and explained that he is going above the requirements to stress safety.

Durrer further explained that the range will be a tourist benefit to Greene County and he will donate at least one day per month to the Greene County Sheriff’s department for training. This is something that they currently have to travel to accomplish. As a response to concerns about declining property values, he spoke to the Commissioner of Revenue for Greene and was told that in his 28 years nothing being built has reduced values of existing homes. He concluded his discussion by asking those in the audience who supported the range to stand and over half the audience stood.

At 7:19 Chairman Willer started the comments from the public section of the hearing with over 80 people signed up to speak. He assured that all would be heard but would be limited to 3 minutes but that speakers could give their 3 minutes to another speaker – up to 9 minutes total.

For over three hours citizens spoke on the subject with the majority of the concerns being against either the design of the range (semi-open air) or the location (near Godalming development). Those that spoke against the range expressed safety concerns and fear that the value of their property would significantly decline.

Many of the opponents expressed a desire for a firing range, just not the design that Durrer is proposing. Noise also was a concern, with 20 lanes firing from 10 am to 8 pm for seven days a week potentially. One speaker grew up within a couple miles of a shooting range in Pennsylvania and said it was not pleasant. He could understand a range being built and then people moving near the range with a depressed price for the property. However, this is a situation where a high end housing development already exists and the permitting of the shooting range would lower the value of the existing homes unfairly.

Another opponent explained that not only will the range be near a housing development but it will also be within 30 feet of a zoned residential area. His research found that the Durrer family owns property near Midway (west of Ruckersville) and there are only 6 homes near the property and no school buses pass that area. He questioned why they don’t use this property for the firing range.

Those who spoke in favor of the firing range stressed the research that Durrer has done and that firing at a range is much safer than firing on a farm which is the norm in Greene County. Bill Saunders comments echoed those that suggested that the issue be deferred and studied further and more specifics in the design and engineering can be presented.

After the public portion of the hearing, the Planning Commission then addressed Durrer or Svoboda with their questions.

Commissioner Frank Morris asked Durrer if the perimeter behind the shooters would be bullet proof and was assured that it would be and that no shooters would be allowed down the lane. Targets will only be changed when all weapons are unloaded and place on the range.

Commissioner Vic Schaff asked Durrer for the design of what exactly is to be built, how much sound is to be abated and needs to see a Standard Operating Procedure manual for the range. Durrer answered that he will finalize these issues when he is told what can and cannot be allowed.

Commissioner John McCloskey had similar concerns to those of Schaff specifically that multiple vendors are being proposed and that someone needs to oversee the project and coordinate it. Durrer answered that he will do what he is asked to do.

Willer explained that a SUP goes with the land and not to the current owner. He also had concerned about the need for specifics and stated that “you don’t want me to design the range”. He suggested that Durrer return in September with a specific design for the firing range. With no further questions for the commissioners, Schaff proposed that the SUP be deferred until the September meeting and the motion was unanimously approved.

While some speakers raised suggestions of other location for the proposed gun range, none of the commissioners pursued this line of questioning.  As they are limited in their scope to review the SUP application that is before them, it will be interesting to see if the Planning Commission chooses to explore the location issue at their September meeting.

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

Greene PC Approves Business in Ruckersville

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

With several parcels changing uses near the intersection of US29 and Route 33, several Ruckersville enterprises are on the move.

Melissa Andrusczyk, who operates a business on the southeast corner of Routes 33 and 29 in Ruckersville, approached the Greene County  Planning Commission on Wednesday, July 15 seeking approval of a special use permit to open another business just west of Ruckersville on Route 33.

clip_image002The new facility, located at 14343 Spotswood Trail, has recently been vacated by a church presenting the opportunity for Andrysczk to open Ruckersville Rummage in the existing building.

Bart Svoboda, Director/Zoning Administrator presented the request to the Planning Commission  explaining that VDOT felt no additional parking would be needed as well as no upgrades. The structure is just west of a crossover near Creative Press and the Ruckersville Fire Department so that customers wanting to travel east would have to exit westbound and take the next crossover to head east on Route 33. The Health Department also had no concerns related to the new business.

clip_image004The plot is located in the A-1 district (County Tax Map 60B-(A)-2) and the Comprehensive Plan supports economic growth in this area of the county. That area of the county has approximately a 20/80 split between business vs. residential currently. Staff recommends approval since it keeps the character of the area the same and no outside storage or flea market would be allowed with the special use permit.

Commissioner Frank Morris, At Large Member, questioned if any display of product for sale or advertisement would be needed since no outside tables would be allowed. Andrysczyk asked if some product could be displayed to advertise the business and that it would be brought inside nightly.

Svoboda stated that any outside display is prohibited unless specifically allowed by the commission. He asked that the commission define a measurable/enforceable distance/area or totally strike the display restriction.

The Planning Commission discussed various boundary limits for the display and finally decided not to limit the display of product with the assumption that parking requirements would limit where product could be displayed. Commissioner Eva Young made a motion to approve the SUP with the only provision being that no outside sales be allowed and motion was passed unanimously.

Note: The current location of Ruckersville Rummage that is operated on the southeast corner of Routes 29 and 33 has had plans approved to develop the parcel.

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

Greene Extends Permit for Recycling Center

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Greene County’s Apex Corporation / Larry and Barbara Hall requested an extension of their Special Use Permit (#15-004) to make up for delays that has impacted their recycling operation north of Lowes off Route 29 southbound at the May 12th Board of Supervisor meeting.

imageThe original SUP (#14-006) was approved on May 27, 2014. The Planning Commission approved the revised SUP last month with only the elimination of the screening requirement being changed.

Brent Hall spoke for his parents and explained that it has taken 8 months to get the site plan approved. Rapidan Service Authority (RSA)  continues to be an issue to be resolved. Hall is requesting that the SUP be extended by 8 months and that the screening requirement be eliminated since it would actually require the cutting down of existing trees and replacing them 6 foot high trees which would not be as high.

The hearing was then open to the public but no one signed up to comment. The hearing then shifted to the Board. Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) stated he attended the Planning Commission meeting last month and he agreed with the Planning Commission’s approval of the extension. Supervisor Eddie Deane (At Large) apologized to the applicant for not noticing that requiring the 6’ evergreens wouldn’t make sense.

Hall was asked to clarify the issue with RSA and he explained that first he had been connected to RSA but then they disconnected his operation. Lamb asked the Board who should be providing water to the property – RSA or Greene County? Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) stated that the Halls would need an EDU (Equivalent Dwelling Unit) to access water. Hall stated that they currently own 13 EDUs so that was not an issue. The issue is that he doesn’t want to use an EDU for a temporarily use. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway District) interjected that the source of water was not part of the SUP. But if they did not want to use an EDU to hook up then they would need to secure their water from RSA.  Deane was sympathetic to the Halls problem and that they pay over $60,000 in taxes to the county and “we don’t want to push businesses out of Greene.”

Frydl addressed Hall’s reference to how Albemarle County would be more accommodating than Greene County. However, Frydl stated that zoning violations in Albemarle County are fined $200 and then there is an ongoing fine of $500 for every 6 days that you are in violation. Greene County however allowed the Halls to not be fined before they received their original SUP. Frydl further addressed the charge of the county delaying the process by 8 months. According to his research, the county took 55 days to handle the SUP. Other departments, such as the Health Dept., caused the additional delay. So for that reason Frydl stated he could not support the extension to the SUP.

Martin understood why there is no need to replace the trees per the original SUP. However, he did not see the need to extend the SUP, similar to Frydl’s position. Chairman David Cox’s only comment was that he agreed that the 6’ trees should not have been required.

The final issue discussed was whether there was a need to require a performance bond to ensure that the land would be returned to an acceptable level for A1 zoning. Martin asked Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda what is needed and what the cost might be. Svoboda answered that there is a fee based on acreage but that the potential removal of rock would have to be investigated to see what costs might be involved. Cox asked Hall if he knew what the cost might be. Hall said he didn’t plan on leaving any material but there was already and ENS bond to protect the land which should suffice for stabilizing the property. Cox commented that he didn’t see the need for a performance bond.

With no other comments Supervisor Deane proposed that the extension be approved for the SUP. Lamb seconded the motion. Frydl and Martin voted against the SUP, with Deane, Cox and Lamb voting  in favor of the SUP extension.  therefore the Halls will have until February, 2017 to finish their recycling operation.

As the meeting was moving on to the next agenda item and the Halls were exiting the meeting, Deane addressed the Halls by stating – “don’t leave us” in asking the Halls not to move their development out of Greene County.

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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

Greene Supervisors Approve B&B

By. Brent Wilson Field Officer

The Greene County Board of Supervisors gave approval for a Bed and Breakfast on Route 33 west of Stanardsville just below the Shenandoah National Park at their April 14th meeting. Rob and Carmen Lynch represented three principals requesting a Special Use Permit on the nearly 14 acres zoned C-1 – Conservation.

Bart Svoboda, Director/Zoning Administrator,  presented the Special Use Permit (SUP# 15-002)  to the Board and explained that up to 13 units can be permitted which this particular SUP requests only 5 cabins and a lodge. A SUP can place restrictions similar to those that the Planning Commission proposed on March 18th when they unanimously approved the Special Use Permit. Svoboda stated that the SUP fit the county’s Comprehensive Plan by encouraging tourism and encouraging frequenting businesses in Greene County and that even though it is located outside the growth area it is near the Shenandoah National Park which has many tourists traveling Route 33. Mr. Lynch agreed with Svoboda in that the B&B fits well in the area and hopes that it will encourage tourists to spend their tourism dollars in Greene.

Bill Martin Greene County Supervisor

Greene County Supervisor Bill Martin

The lack of public comment clearly came as an endorsement for the project. The discussion amongst the Board members also indicated support for the project. Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District,  asked Mr. Lynch did they plan on the maximum number of people of 100. Lynch indicated that the 100 was the maximum the Planning Commission allowed and he felt that would not be the normal activity but special events might raise the number.

Supervisor Eddie Deane, At Large, didn’t believe this project would compete directly with Lydia Mountain Cabins  and that this project would attract more tourists to Greene County. Supervisor Jim Frydl, Midway District, thinks the location near Route 33 and the Shenandoah National Park  is good for this type of venue and it is a good application.

Supervisor Frydl made a motion to place the same restrictions on the Special Use Permit as the Planning Commission passed:

1) 6 cabins and 1 lodge

2) any renter is limited to 30 of 365 days per year

3) limit to 100 guests between 7 am to midnight

4) site approvals required

5) must be developed in accordance with the map in Special Use Permit

With no further discussion, the motion passed unanimously 5-0.

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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

Tourism Growth in Greene County

By. Brent Wilson, Field clip_image002Officer

The Greene County Planning Commission considered a request for a  special use permit (SUP) for a Bed & Breakfast with Cabins on Route 33 west of Stanardsville at Mutton Hollow Road.  The property (3526 Mutton Hollow Road, 18-(A)-29), is nearly 14 acres which is zoned C-1, Conservation.

Zoning Administrator, Bart Svoboda  addressed the Planning Commission stating that the request was to have six cabins and the existing residence on the property. Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  had no issues with the entrance to the property.

The property is identified as rural in Greene’s Comprehensive Plan which supports the project. The conditions proposed for the Special Use Permit (SUP#15-102) include the B&B would be limited to six cabins, no guests could stay more than 30 days in a row, there would be a maximum of 100 guests per event and the project must meet all applicable Health Department and VDOT regulations.

Rob Lynch, the applicant, then addressed the Planning Commission stating that he and his family have recently moved clip_image003into the home on the property.

He stated that the location is right off Route 33 west of Stanardsville and across from Lydia Mountain Cabins and near the Tea Room, the Blue Ridge Pottery and just east of the Shenandoah National Park  making it a natural addition to the entrance of Greene County to attract visitors to Greene County.

The 2010 Comprehensive Plan recognized the underutilized tourism opportunities in Greene County:

Greene County has several assets for a vital tourism industry. Proximity to Shenandoah National Park and many acres of scenic rural lands provide an ideal backdrop for visitors, and various amenities exist to serve those who do visit.

When compared to counties in similar situations, it is clear that Greene County has not completely tapped into its full potential as a tourism destination, as the table reveals.

In 2008, $15.17 million was spent in Greene County, generating approximately 210 jobs. This is lower than the amounts spent in any of the surrounding localities.

According to The VirginiVirginia is For Loversa Tourism Corporation (VTC) Greene County saw an increase of 1.3% in 2013 tourism expenditures.  Even with that increase the VTC Economic Impact Report showed that Greene continues to lag far behind neighboring localities in terms of tourism:

                                                            2013 Tourism
                                                            Expenditures (in Millions)
Albemarle                                           $315.46
Rockingham                                      $183.29
Louisa                                                  $ 67.59
Orange                                                 $ 43.66
Madison                                              $ 32.49
Greene                                                 $ 17.69

Commissioner Frank Morris asked Lynch if there were plans of hosting weddings on the property. Lynch stated that they did hope to hold small weddings on the property and the 100 person limit would be sufficient.

Commissioner John McCloskey asked about the septic and sewer capability of the project. Lynch stated that this issue would be addressed as the development grew. He hoped to have each cabin in a wooded setting depending on where the ground perked allowing the location. Morris asked why the 100 person limitation while also asking what the county could do to help the project be successful? Lynch stated that VDOT targeted the 100 person maximum and he felt that number of people would allow the project to be successful.

No one from the public had comments on the project. With no further discussion the Planning Commission recommended approval of the SUP 4-0 as Chairman Jay Willer was absent. The SUP will proceed to the Board of Supervisors for their review.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Greene County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.