- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The Bedford County Planning Commission began a two-part process of reviewing the supervisor’s proposed modifications to the county’s zoning ordinance. This follows a joint public hearing that the supervisors held earlier this month.
A public hearing on the supervisors’ proposed changes was originally held in November, 2011. After reviewing their proposed changes last year, following planning commission comments in the winter, the supervisors felt that they had modified their proposals to the point that they needed to restart the process with a new public hearing.
After the planning commission finishes their review, and makes its comments, the supervisors will make the final decision on adopting changes to the zoning ordinance.
Due to the number of changes the supervisors have proposed, the planing commission chose to first deal with the ones the could could most easily come to a consensus on first, saving the more controversial items for another meeting.
The height of accessory structures in residential zones was the first item they dealt with. They were concerned that the supervisors’ proposal could result in somebody putting a utility shed in a backyard that’s bigger than the house, itself. District 4 planning commissioner Frederic Fralick suggested a maximum height of 20 feet in R1 areas with a maximum height of 25 feet in other types of residential zone and a majority of the planning commission voted to accept this recommendation.
As they went along, planning commission members agreed with some of the supervisors’ proposed changes. They agreed with the proposal to eliminate the current distinction between new car and used car dealers. They also accepted a proposal to make all minimum lot sizes coincide with the district they are in. They gave a thumbs up to the proposal to increase the number of unrelated persons who can occupy a dwelling from four to eight.
These were unanimous, but planning commission members split on home occupations — particularly whether selling firearms should be permitted in R1 zones. District 5 planning commissioner Tommy Scott and District 1 planning commissioner Lewis Huff wanted ammunition and reloading supplies specifically included. The supervisors’ wording excludes explosives and, while District 7 planning commissioner Jerry Craig noted that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco does not consider smokeless powder and black powder to be Class A explosives, Huff and Scott were concerned that somebody in the planning department would decide to “split hairs” later.
Huff however, noted that he has purchased a number of firearms but never bought ammunition for them at the same time. Fralick, who was the only planning commissioner to vote against firearm sales in R1 zones, noted that this change in permitted home occupations won’t affect neighborhoods controlled by covenants.
The planning commission will deal with corridor overlay districts, density in agricultural zones and the maximum number of subdivisions allowed at its next regular meeting on March 5. This meeting will begin at 5 p.m., rather than at their normal 7 p.m. starting time, in order to allow time for what they expect to be a lengthy discussion.