Will certain types of commercial enterprises be permitted in areas of the county with A-1 agriculture zoning? The Greene County Planning Commission held a second work session regarding rural enterprise centers at its October meeting and is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the ordinance change at its meeting Nov. 17.
Commissioners Steve Kruskamp and John McCloskey were not in attendance for the meeting.
Rural enterprise centers could house research and development companies, defense contractors, technology firms and others who may want to do their work in rural areas with proper screening and other restrictions, according to Greene County Director of Planning and Zoning Administrator Jim Frydl. A local example of such centers is the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in Ruckersville.
Frydl said after researching the issue, planning staff decided the best way to mitigate impacts and proper locations for such centers is through the special use permit (SUP) process. SUPs allow for conditions related to possible impacts of the use on parcels and for neighbors to be heard during public hearings at planning commission and board of supervisors meetings.
“It is parcel specific,” Frydl said. “We tend, by nature, to decide that if we let one of the types of uses then we have to say yes (to others). But a special use, by law, say you can say no to a use even if it’s the exact same use on different parcels or if it has different impacts. It’s completely different.”
Frydl said questions the county should ask are whether the use fits the Greene community’s needs and can it be mitigated.
“More importantly—especially in this scenario—we’re talking about bringing something of value to the community,” Frydl said. “Our recommendation is as we consider this—if we consider moving forward—we would have a minimum standard setup. Talking with Mr. (Alan) Yost of economic development, this isn’t something that we want to overrun the county.”
One of the recommendations from staff was that there must be a 200-foot buffer between the property line and structure—including 35 feet of vegetative screening. Parcels must be at least 30 acres and no larger than 50 acres in size to be considered. Additionally, it’s limited to rural research and development facilities, conference centers and defense contractors.
Some other standards include: building height limit will be 30 feet with maximum building square footage of 50,000; no outdoor storage permitted; outdoor lighting will be directed horizontal to the ground and a photometric plan must be provided; no hazardous, objectionable or offensive conditions at or beyond property line boundaries from odor, dust, lint, smoke, cinders, fumes, noise, vibration, heat, glare, solid and liquid waste, fire or explosion; structures cannot be located in an easement, wetland or within 100 feet of the 100-year floodplain; and deliveries shall only occur between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Commissioner Ron Williams asked, “You have a 50-acre parcel; what’s more intrusive: 50 acres subdivided to allow houses or (enterprise centers). I would argue (enterprise centers) are less intrusive.”
Commissioner Mike Traber said he thought it was a good way forward.
“I’m pretty happy with what I see here,” Williams said. “It seems to be restrictive enough.”
Adam Gillenwater with the Piedmont Environmental Council said the group isn’t opposed to such centers in Greene’s existing growth area, but has concerns about them in the rural areas.
“Greene’s Comp-rehensive Plan not only emphasizes the importance of agro-tourism to Greene’s economy, but that one of the most significant wishes of county citizens is for the county to retain its rural character,” Gillenwater said. “We’re concerned about this type of development that it could have adverse impacts on both those elements—agro-tourism and the rural character. We would encourage the county as it moves forward in this process to limit this use to more closely align it with the existing growth areas.”
At the September Planning Commission meeting, Yost said that there have been three requests for sites similar to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Ruckersville.