Supervisors discuss planning commission recommendations

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By John Barnhart

    Back on Feb. 6, the Bedford County Planning Commission completed its comments on the Board of Supervisors’ proposed extensive revision of the county’s zoning ordinance.
    By that time, the supervisors were in the middle of developing the county’s FY 2012-2013 budget and they chose to wait until that was finished before they reviewed these comments, many of which were recommendations against a number of the supervisors’ proposed revisions. In some cases, the supervisors accepted these recommendations.
    Work on this began with a work session late Monday afternoon. All supervisors were present, including District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington, who was ill. Arrington sat in the back of the meeting chamber, rather than in his normal seat, in an effort to avoid sharing his illness with anybody else.
    A sore throat prevented him from taking part in the debate, although he was able to express his support or opposition to items as the supervisors built a consensus on planning commission recommendations. Derrick Noell and Steve Wilkerson, who serve as the chairman and vice chairman of the planning commission, as well as District 2 planning commissioner Lynn Barnes, attended the work session.
    The supervisors reached a consensus to retain the current four residential districts. A proposal to combine R-1 and R-2 had been taken off the table in December following a November public hearing in which residents expressed their opposition to that measure. The supervisors chose to retain R-3 at their Monday night work session.
    The height of auxiliary structures in an R-1 zone was discussed.
    “Free it up so people can do what they want to do,” said District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek. “An accessory structure can be something as simple as a tree house. It’s a shame to have to beg the planning commission to build a tree house.”
    “An accessory structure doesn’t exceed the height of the primary structure,” was District 4 Supervisor John Sharp’s suggestion.
    “If I had a mobile home and had a motor home, I wouldn’t like it,” was Board Chairman Chuck Neudorfer’s reply to Sharp’s suggestion.
    The supervisors settled on limiting the height of both the principal and accessory structure height to 35 feet.
    The supervisors also chose to retain the two existing commercial zones. They also discussed height limits in these zones. Interim County Administrator Frank Rogers noted that, in imposing a height limit, the supervisors were deciding at what point they wanted a property owner to come to them to ask for additional height.
    The supervisors chose to not impose a height limit unless the commercial property adjoined a residential zone. In this case they would allow a 45-foot height, although a builder could build a taller structure with additional setbacks to accommodate the extra height. The supervisors did this to reduce the need for commercial developers to go through the special use permit process.
    The supervisors will continue discussing the planning commission’s comments at a work session scheduled for June 25 at 5 p.m.