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User friendly zoning nearing approval for Warsaw

Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 10:17 am

Town officials last Thursday recommended several tweaks to a proposed zoning category in their mission to welcome a greater variety of business into Warsaw.
On July 18, Warsaw’s ordinance committee met to discuss concerns with the proposed Commercial and Light Industrial (C-3) zoning.
The zoning district would serve businesses that combined commercial uses (C-1 and C-2) with manufacturing (M-1) such as banks, urgent care centers, auto repair shops, gas stations, warehouses and pumping stations for water and sewage.
Areas that the town is considering as possible locations for the proposed C-3 category include the Rte. 3 bypass, the property between McDonald’s and the Northern Neck Regional Jail and the area behind the 7-Eleven.
It is important to note that the areas of interest are all located on the outskirts of town.
In a joint public hearing between town council and the planning commission held Thursday, July 11, Mayor Mark Milstead and Commissioner Robert Knight aired their worries over the size of the C-3 zoning districts in the proposed ordinance.
Currently, the proposal dictates that each district shall contain no fewer than 25 acres in locations that are served by public water and sewer systems.
Knight said the minimum acreage “seemed like a large parcel of land to devote one zoning district to.”
Mayor Mark Milstead agreed with Knight while adding there “were probably some other things that needed to be looked at” in the proposal.
“My preference at this point would be to have the ordinance committee take a look at it and then come back to us on Aug. 8 with a recommendation,” said Milstead.
The ordinance committee recommended reducing the minimum acreage for a zoning district from 25 to five acres.
Vice Mayor Paul Yackel, who is also chairman of the ordinance committee, called five acres “a right good size” and compared the minimum acreage to five football fields put together in one area.
Milstead agreed with Yackel.
“It’s friendly for somebody to be able to invest in here without having to spend huge amounts of money,” said Milstead. “If you had to develop 25 acres, it would cost you a lot more.”
He added that the C-3 zoning district was probably more likely to succeed in a rural community with five acres.
During the joint public hearing on July 11, Jim Spiess, who owns River Pools and Spas along with Jason Hughes and Marcus Sheridan, said his business is planning to grow its operations from stocking pools to manufacturing them as well.
“The only thing I’m asking is that there could be some exceptions with the 25-acre rule,” said Spiess, who noted that Riverpools and Spas only has five acres to work with.
“The one thing we would hate to do is if it couldn’t go light industrial, we would really have to start looking at moving because we’re ready to roll forward with production,” said Spiess.
The ordinance committee also recommended eliminating a minimum acreage on the allowance of contiguous additions to the district.
Furthermore, the uses that would be permitted within the zoning category were rearranged.
The committee proposed allowing the following commercial and employment uses without a conditional use permit: offices; financial institutions; health and fitness centers; business and personal service establishments; convenience stores; gas stations; and auto repair shops.
The following light industrial and utility uses, which Town Manager John Slusser initially proposed to require conditional use permits, would also be allowed by-right in the C-3 district as amended: contractor yards, which include outside storage and offices; terminals and depots; hydroponic plant culture; utility warehouses; pole yards; and water and sewage pumping stations.
The following uses would require conditional use permits: restaurants; warehouses; manufacturing; telecommunication uses and/or structures; and possibly research and development centers.
One particular commercial use that would be allowed in the C-3 zoning- sexually oriented business- drew concerns from Milstead.
Slusser, however, shared that the business in question had to be listed within a zoning category.
Sexually oriented businesses are currently listed in C-2.
Slusser said that by listing the use in C-3, he would be able to move it out of the C-2 zoning and, therefore, restrict any potential businesses of a sexually-oriented nature to the outskirts of town.
The committee agreed with Slusser’s recommendation while also concluding that the zoning district is ready to be voted on.
Slusser aims to present the final draft with the changes recommended by the committee to Town Attorney Bill Lewis prior to council taking action on the matter.
The approval of the C-3 zoning category would allow the town to move on a conditional use permit submitted June 21 by Kenneth L. Butzner.
Butzner requested that the town rezone Belle Ville Park, a 39.85-acre-acre parcel between Hamilton Boulevard and the Rte. 3 Bypass, from Residential (R-1) to C-3.
Northern Neck Electric Cooperative (NNEC) currently has an option on Belle Ville Park with Butzner.
The rezoning of the parcel is contingent upon council’s approval of the C-3 zoning category.
On July 8, at the Warsaw Planning Commission meeting, Martin Mothershead, Vice-President of NNEC, said his company wished to acquire the parcel for the purpose of relocating its operations.
Currently, NNEC carries out all business from its location on St. Johns Street in Warsaw.
“Our entire piece of property is a little less than 7 acres,” said Mothershead. “It can get quite congested at times with the trucks and traffic in and out, especially when…we’re bringing in additional crews.”
Mothershead said Northern Neck Electric plans to relocate its garage and warehouse to the property in question. He envisioned the operations facilities being built within the next three years pending the town’s approval.