Scottsville is hoping a proactive rezoning of a portion of the site of the former Hyosung Tire plant will encourage redevelopment of the property.
Last month, the Scottsville Town Council voted 4-3 to rezone a vacant lot of nearly 20 acres on Bird Street next to the former plant from Industrial to Village Residential.
Since the tire plant closed more than a decade ago, the town has been discussing visions for revitalization of the former factory and the surrounding land, and late last year, the council approved a small area plan for West Downtown that included recommendations for how to proceed with the site.
Councilors Zachary Bullock, Dan Gritsko and Stuart Munson and Mayor Ron Smith voted in favor of the rezoning, while Councilors Lindsay Brown, Laura Mellusi and Edward Payne voted against it.
“I think it’s time for us as a town to move forward,” Gritsko said. “We’ve tried a lot of different ways on these sites, and these are not perfect plans, they’re not perfect ideas. It’s not a boot-be-all-do-all tonight, but we’ve got to move forward … These imperfect plans I think very much are to the benefit of our town and give us reason to move forward.”
Munson said he is concerned that the town’s economic viability is at stake, as it has empty storefronts with not enough people to support those businesses, and there are people who want to live in Scottsville but there’s no place for them to move to.
“We’ve got a parcel of land that has been recommended for development for residences, and I think this zoning gives us the ability to veto really any sort of large development there that we want to, so, to me, this seems like a great way to generate some interest in people who are looking to do what we’d like to do with this,” he said.
The former tire plant on Bird Street was purchased in 2011 by Charles W. Hurt, a local real estate entrepreneur, developer and founder of Virginia Land Co. The plant sits on 41 acres and is adjacent to the empty 20-acre parcel, both separate parcels but owned by LLCs under Hurt.
Payne said he was against doing anything that could benefit Hurt.
“If we had just half as much aggressiveness from the developer, or the owner, as this town and its citizens have put into it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, the Scottsville Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend denial of the rezoning, citing that it didn’t have enough information to make a clear recommendation for approval.
Susan Cable, who worked on a community group for the small area plan, said the intent and the understanding of the citizen committee as to what they were recommending in the small area plan was that the entire site, not just the single parcel, be the subject of any rezoning, and she encouraged the council to create and adopt a planned unit development ordinance.
“There are many examples of planned unit development ordinances out there, which will give a responsible developer greater creativity to deal with that entire site, and it gives the town council in a town really strict control over what happens,” she said. “If you adopt this zoning ordinance, it still does not give you any control over what happens on the factory site.”
The small area plan recommended the town either do split parcel zoning with existing zoning districts to “establish a more fine-grained mix of uses on the site” or create a planned unit development ordinance that would allow “a developer’s site plan to combine a mix of uses and designs, but it would always require Town Council approval, with no by-right uses.”
“It’s been my experience over the last eight years that developers who are interested in that property are either interested in developing the factory, or they’re interested in developing the acres up on top of it for residential,” Munson said. “There are very, very few developers who are going to want to tackle both of those.”
During the meeting, the council also unanimously approved zoning text amendments mainly around Village Residential zoning, adding incentives for infill construction and small-scale residential development where appropriate in town and a by-right density bonus on duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes, where those can be built on the same size lot as a single-family house.
“The more significant part … relates to the incentives around cluster development where we have public water and sewer service,” Town Administrator Matt Lawless said. “So by a special-use permit, Town Council can grant approval to a cluster development of up to four units per acre on a smaller lot with smaller setbacks and the requirement is 33% of the project area as open space.”
Councilors tabled votes on a proposed rezoning of a 14-acre wetland portion of the former tire plant site from Industrial to Public and on a conservation easement for that property with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Virginia Land Co.