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Bedford County's planning commission decided to approve a master plan revision for Thomas Jefferson Crossing.
The entire development, located off U. S. 221 in Forest,was rezoned PD-1 three years ago. The developer wants a change in the permitted uses for the commercial area of the development to include a car wash and automobile rental/leasing.
The first issue the planning commission had to decide is whether this constituted a major or minor revision to the master plan. The planning commission can approve a minor revision. A major revision would require a public hearing before the planning commission and the board of supervisors.
These businesses will be built by Shoebox Properties, a business with a Moneta address. Developer's representatives said that the car wash recycles water and will also have a system to capture rain water to be used in the wash. They said that it will take 75 gallons of water to wash a car and that 85 percent of this will be recycled. The developers said that the car wash will only draw water from the county's water system once every 30 days.
District 3 Planning Commissioner Steve Wilkerson felt that this represented a minor revision.
County Attorney Carl Boggess, however, said that the developer had proffered permitted uses when the rezoning was made and these uses are not among them.
“How can we say this is not a major revision?” Boggess asked.
Other planning commissioners agreed with Wilkerson. Planning Commission Chairman Frederic Fralick and District 1 Planning Commissioner Rick Crockett said that the PD-1 district was set up to create flexibility, allowing the planning commission members to use their judgement.
“I cannot see this as any other than a minor revision,” said Crockett.
District 2 Planning Commissioner Lynn Barnes asked Boggess if it was his legal opinion that the revision was not minor.
“I don't know if I know the answer to that,” Boggess replied.
All the planning commissioners, with the exception of District 5 Planning Commissioner Steve Stevick, agreed with Wilkerson. The vote to declare it a minor revision passed 6-1.
The vote to approve the revisions passed unanimously with Stevick noting that he could support it because the question of major versus minor had been resolved.
A decision on revisions to the zoning ordinance dealing with religious assemblies was delayed until the planning commission's Oct. 20 meeting. Some changes had been made to the text of the proposed revisions since the religious assembly committee had made its recommendations last summer. George Nester, the county's director of planning and community development, said that he had met with Barnes and Crockett, along with Boggess and County Administrator Kathleen Guzi and decided that the committee should have a chance to review the changes before further action was taken.
Crockett, who said the changes were not large changes said, “we felt like the committee deserved to review this.”
Barnes wanted the review to take place before the planning commission's next meeting so that the members can then decide whether to move forward. Nester said the changes would be sent electronically to committee members for review and that they would decide whether to meet.
If the planning commission recommends the changes, a joint public hearing could be held before the commission and the board of supervisors. Boggess said that the revisions could go before the supervisors in November.
The Rev. Raymond Bell, pastor of the Cowboy Church, noted that the planning commission was able to make changes for a car wash.
“What they did for a car wash tonight, they could have done for religious assemblies,” he said.
Bell served on the religious assembly committee. The committee was established to look at the county's zoning ordinance after Bell's church, which meets in non-traditional venues, had problems with county zoning officials two years ago.