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The Bedford County Planning Commission has just about wrapped up the task of commenting on the Board of Supervisors’ proposed changes to the zoning ordinance.
The Planning Commission had 90 days after a November 2011 public hearing to respond. The clock runs out early next month, but the Planning Commission will have a final review and discussion on Feb. 6 before taking official recommending action on the proposed changes that will then be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.
Their penultimate meeting, held last week, consisted of an abbreviated Planning Commission. Both Curtis Stephens and Steve Stevick have resigned and were not present. Stevick resigned in November to protest the supervisors’ action on the zoning ordinance. Stephens has said that he resigned in order to clear the way for newly elected District 7 Supervisor Tammy Parker to make her own choice.
An earlier proposal to merge the R-1 and R-2 zoning districts into one had met heavy opposition from citizens at the November public hearing and the supervisors removed that provision. The new ordinance will keep this separate. A proposal to merge R-3 and R-4 into a single multifamily zoning district remains and the Planning Commission concurred with this proposal. The new district, which the Planning Commission recommends calling R-3 in order to keep naming standards consistent, will have the same standards as the old R-4.
“Let’s adopt the standards for R-4 and call it R-3,” said District 3 Planning Commissioner Steve Wilkerson, beginning the discussion on the subject.
Both District 2 Planning Commissioner Lynn Barnes and District 4 Planning Commissioner Frederic Fralick were concerned about storm water runoff. Fralick commented that the R-4 standard, which allows 75 percent lot coverage, means a lot of ground covered by an impervious surface. Barnes shared that concern and preferred the 60 percent lot coverage in the current R-3 zone. Fralick suggested 70 percent as a compromise.
“I don’t see it as terribly earth shattering myself,” he commented before the vote.
Fralick, Wilkerson, District 1 Planning Commissioner Rick Crockett and District 6 Planning Commissioner Derrick Noell voted to apply the R-4 standards to the new R-3 zone. Barnes cast the lone opposing vote. He said that he did so over his concern about the lot coverage issue due to the potential for storm-water runoff.
One change that they all accepted was to recommend that maximum height of accessory structures be raised from 15 feet to 20 feet.
“I don’t think it should be more restrictive than R-1 and R-2,” Wilkerson commented.
The Board of Supervisors will need to readvertise for a new public hearing if they choose to go along with this recommendation.
As they finished, Barnes suggested that they include an introduction stating why they have recommended the changes in the package that they will send on to the supervisors. Fralick agreed and suggested that they appoint a committee to tie the changes to the county’s comprehensive plan. Barnes and Fralick were appointed to this committee and will have the results ready to present to the Planning Commission on Feb. 6.
At the work session’s end, Barnes and Crockett expressed concern about some provisions in the supervisors’ proposed changes. Crockett said that the private road access easement provision will allow private road subdivisions in the county. He said that it’s only in AP and AR zones at present, but it could go to the R1 zone. Crockett, who has been on the Planning Commission for 18 years, said that there used to be lots of mobile classrooms at the county’s schools and that this was a direct result of private road subdivisions.
“They need to figure out where the money is coming from to pay for schools,” Crockett said. “Education costs big money.
“I really feel this is the first step down a really slippery slope,” he went on to say. “I think if the board really sits down and looks at it, they will see that the potential impact is very great.”
“The changes in total in agriculture allow unlimited subdivision of our agricultural land,” said Barnes.