Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Setback committee makes recommendation; board to revisit proposal May 5

Comments from KM:  The proposed changes will stagnate economic growth and the tax base for the county.

This story did not include that the sub-committee also recommends that the following language shall be printed on all preliminary and recorded plats, presented to property owners who request a zoning classification change from A-1 to RR-A for the expressed purpose of building a rural residential dwelling, and/or provided to mortgages in loan closing packages. This will appear on your documents...

"It is advised that these residential building lots are located in an agricultural area. Agriculture is the primary economic activity surrounding this zoning district. Owners, residents, an other users of property may be subject to inconvenience or discomfort arising from agricultural operations even though conducted in accordance with best management practices and in accordance with laws and regulations of the Commonwealth and the County. Such agricultural operations may generate noise, odors, and dust; may involve the operation of machinery, including aircraft, during any portion of a 24 hour day; and may involve the storage and disposal of manure or biosolids, and the application of fertilizer, soil amendments and pesticides/herbicides. Owners, occupants, and users of land should be prepared to accept such inconveniences or discomforts as a normal and necessary aspect of living in an agricultural zoning district in a county with a strong rural character and an active agricultural sector."

Ask a banker how this verbiage on the mortgage increases the risk factor for a loan.

There are many question which should be asked and answered before this is sent to the planning commission Oh, that's right...citizens were asked to submit questions and did. They were initially told they'd be posted on the county website and answered. But, the subcommittee voted to deny this action by a vote of 6-2.

There is no shortage of agricultural property in Pittsylvania Co. Most land bears that zoning designation. The committee produced no documentation comparing negative and positive impacts of the proposal. The proposal seems less about farming and more about SPREADING SLUDGE.

The proposed changes will negatively impact home ownership in the county which will result in an increase the tax burden on the homeowners who remain in the county. Studies such as send red flags as to how proposed zoning changes will affect property ownership and tax base in the county. Some cautions identified by the study are:

* Because minimum lot size restrictions are essentially a control on population density, if they are set too high they can have the unintended consequence of adding to sprawl.

* Larger lot sizes are more expensive, and therefore frequency of ownership of large lot properties will be lower.

* Exclusionary zoning is zoning that makes certain land uses impossible or only allows for a token amount of that use (Gardener 1999).

*...higher minimum lot sizes increase the amount of land consumed per individual, they also limit the total number of individuals that are able to participate in the market.

*...implies that residentially zoned parcels with a minimum lot size of greater than three acres are less likely to be converted to developed uses.

* It is also shown that the minimum lot size zoning variable has a significant and negative relationship with price. This is interpreted as being a result of zoning regulators setting minimum lot sizes above the market equilibrium, which leads directly to an increase in the supply of large lot residential property and a corresponding decrease in price.

This is bad news for Pittsylvania County.

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 6:30 pm Setback committee makes recommendation; board to revisit proposal May 5

Pittsylvania County officials are considering a new zoning classification — with new setback requirements and expanded minimum lot sizes — for houses built in agricultural districts. A Joint Setback Subcommittee formed by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted 6-2 Monday to propose the new classification, minimum lot sizes and setback requirements. The proposal calls for a new zoning classification, RR-A or rural residential-agriculture, for residences built in agricultural areas adjoining farmland.
The subcommittee also calls for front-yard setbacks for those residences to be at least 100 feet from the lot line, and side-yard and rear-yard setbacks to be at least 150 feet.
Minimum lot sizes would be 2.5 acres under the proposed rules. The current minimum lot size in the county is 0.44 of an acre.
Wells would also have to be at least 100 feet from property lines.
But clustering of lots would be allowed with the following provisions: the minimum exterior lot size (subject to the same setbacks for the exterior sides of exterior lots) would be 1.75 acres and the minimum interior lot size would be 0.75 acres. Setbacks for interior sides on interior lots would be at least 50 feet, according to the proposed rules.
Wells on exterior lots would be located a minimum of 100 feet from exterior property lines.
Land adjoining or severed from A-1, agricultural, to be rezoned for residential dwellings would be rezoned RR-A. Existing residential property would be grandfathered and not affected by the proposed new rules.
Under regulations from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, farmers cannot spread biosolids or organic fertilizer within 100 feet of a well or within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling.
Biosolids are treated human waste from municipalities, while organic fertilizer includes waste from a confined livestock facility.

During the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting Tuesday night, Westover Supervisor Coy Harville made a motion to refer the subcommittee’s proposal to the planning commission, but Callands-Gretna Supervisor Jerry Hagerman made a substitute motion to table the matter. The substitute motion passed by a 6-0 vote, with Harville, who serves on the subcommittee, abstaining.

The board will discuss the proposal at its next meeting May 5.

George Winn, a member of the setback subcommittee who represents the Pittsylvania County Agricultural Development Board, said in January he would like to see future homeowners and owners of other dwellings be required to comply with the same setback rules as farmers.

If the agriculture sector in the county must grow, then there must be planning, Winn said during an interview Friday.

“If our county continues on the basis of small lots and no setbacks and no planning … we’ll have a mess that can never be corrected,” Winn said.

The proposed rule states, “This district (RR-A) is intended to allow rural residences in areas where agricultural and other low-intensity uses predominate, but where low-density residences can be created. Uses not consistent with the existing character of this district are not permitted.”

“Agriculture is the primary economic activity surrounding this zoning district,” the proposed requirements state. “Owners, residents and other users of property may be subjected to inconvenience or discomfort arising from agricultural operations even though conducted in accordance with best management practices and/or in accordance with existing laws and regulations …”

The new rules would provide just as much protection for homeowners as for farmers, Winn said.
Hagerman said he wanted to table the matter because the proposal was lying his desk when he came to the board meeting and he had no time to read it.

“I certainly didn’t want to vote on something I hadn’t read or reviewed,” Hagerman said, adding that he wanted more information.

Staunton River Supervisor Elton Blackstock, who also serves on the setback subcommittee, said he voted against proposing the requirements because more details need to be worked out.
“I’m not opposed to the concept,” Blackstock said. “The details have to be worked out before I’m comfortable with it.”

Blackstock said he views setbacks as a larger issue than just biosolids and manure. “I see it as a part of the overall zoning policy and I want more details. I think we have to look at the big picture,” Blackstock said.

New requirements would affect future growth in the county and farmers planning, for example, to sell land for retirement purposes. Blackstock wants to hear from citizens about the proposal.
“We have to educate the public on what’s in it,” he said. “I want some feedback from the general public, a lot of feedback.”

The next step would be for the board to refer a draft proposal to the planning commission, Winn said. The commission would then make a recommendation to supervisors, who would decide whether to approve it.

There will be public hearings on the proposed changes.