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Planning Commission wraps up year

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By John Barnhart

    Bedford County’s planning commission held it’s last meeting of the year last week and a final recommendation on board of supervisors’ proposed changes to the zoning ordinance is still pending.
    After debate, the planing commission chose to recommend leaving the signage restrictions in the corridor overlay districts as they are.
    “I like the standards,” commented District 2 planning commission member Jeff Burdett. “You poll the public and they are going to tell you they [advertising signs] are ugly.”
    Burdett added that he does not buy the argument that businesses are not successful due to sign limits. He said he could compromise on signs, but does not support doing away with the restrictions entirely.
    District 7 planning commission member Jerry Craig pointed to the size of individual store signs on “monument” type signs in front of shopping centers. He said a driver would have to come to a complete stop to see them. Under the overlay regulations, shopping centers get one free-standing sign.
    “I want people to get noticed,” said Board Chairman Steve Wilkerson.
    District 4 planning commission member Frederic Fralick questioned the value of signs. He said young adults use their smart phones to find things. He opposed changing the signage restrictions.
    A motion by Craig to recommend rescinding the signage restrictions failed on a 4-3 vote with Craig, District 1 planning commission member Lewis Huff, and District 5 planning commission member Tommy Scott voting in favor. Fralick, District 6 planning commission member Derrick Noell, Burdett and Wilkerson voted in oppostion.
    Fralick then made a motion to recommend leaving the restrictions as they are. This passed 5-2 with Fralick, Wilkerson, Noell, Huff and Burdett voting in favor. Crag and Scott cast the opposing votes.
    The planning commission also voted 5-2 to recommend leaving the short-term rental regulations in place.
    “I’m for fixing it,” said Burdett. “I’m not for taking it out.”
    Burdett said the regulation is needed to protect the interests of people who live there. He said there have been cases where there have been 10 or 12 people living in a three bedroom house. They park everywhere.
    “They don’t care what they do to people,” he said. “They just don’t care what they do to the people who live there.”
    “I’m perfectly prepared to leave it in,” said Wilkerson. He said that short-term rentals put a resort-type usage in a residential neighborhood and, therefore, should be regulated.
    Scott favored taking the short-term rental regulations out because he felt they were something with which the county should not be involved.
    Wilkerson disagreed.
    “I don’t think we should take it out until we have something better,” he said.
    The motion, made by Burdett, to recommend retaining short-term rental regulations passed by a 5-2 vote with Fralick, Burdett, Noell, Wilkerson and Huff voting in favor. Craig and Scott cast the dissenting votes.
    The planning commission voted 6-1 to wait until its Jan. 7 meeting to further discuss a board of supervisors initiated proposal to provide limited possibilities for a developer to extend an existing private road to serve up to 10 additional lots. Fralick, Noell, Craig, Huff, Burdett and Wilkerson voted to wait, while Scott cast the lone dissenting vote.
    This meeting was Wilkerson’s last planning commission meeting. He was elected to the District 3 supervisors seat in November. Fralick noted Wilkerson’s 18 years service on the planning commission.
    “I believe firmly that you’ve had the interests of the county, the total county, at heart,” Fralick said. “You’re going to be missed.