By Bridgett Lynn

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As

Albemarle County

seeks to expand its commercial tax base, it is also taking steps to update zoning related to industrial activity and home-based businesses.  Increasing economic development opportunities was a key objective of the “economic vitality plan” approved by the

Albemarle Board of Supervisors

earlier this month.


Listen using player above or download the podcast:


Download 20100818-PC

On Tuesday, the

Albemarle County Planning Commission

endorsed a proposal to amend the performance standards of industrial zoning districts.  County staff said the update was important to help prepare for expanded industrial business opportunities countywide.

“Performance standards … are utilized to control and limit the impacts generated by the use of land,” said county zoning administrator Amelia McCulley. “This is the first comprehensive amendment of this section of the ordinance since 1980, and that’s a long time.”

According to staff, the amendments are intended to better evaluate industrial impacts, update outdated references, and clarify regulations and procedures.

“[Performance standards] address operations such as noise, water, air pollution, vibration, dust, and electrical impulses,” McCulley said. “We’re adding the requirement … that the applicant provides us copies of their state and federal permits.”

Owners of land used for industry as well as certain home occupations will have to provide a copy of state and federal agency permits so that the county has their permits on file and because it shows how they have to operate.

“That’s also something that the public would have access to if an industrial use is coming in some area near them,” McCulley said.

In January, the board of supervisors reviewed recommendations to increase the supply of available industrial land and improve flexibility in the zoning ordinance. Further, in June, the board amended the county’s zoning ordinance to allow some heavy industrial activity to take place on land currently designated for light industry.

No date has been set yet for a public hearing before the planning commission on the proposed amendments.







The commission also reviewed a proposed zoning text amendment regarding home businesses.

“The [home occupation] business is a business in a residence, and so these are regulations that would try to control some of the impacts that we can foresee,” McCulley said. “It doesn’t take away anything that they would be able to [do] for their personal use.”

The proposed amendment would allow home occupations to be subject to administrative review and action with appeals head by the

Board of Zoning Appeals

.

“The purpose of changing the text for home occupations is to reevaluate by right uses and uses allowed by special use permit,” McCulley said. “[The purpose is] also to provide clarification, flexibility, and a streamlined process for home occupations in both the rural areas and the development areas while continuing to protect the neighborhood character and quality of life for all residents.”

One of the prohibited uses listed as part of a home occupation is using a home regularly for church gatherings which raised concern among the commissioners.

“We might be running into a problem with the first amendment with that,” Commissioner

Calvin Morris

said. “We might be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Staff will take the recommendations made by the planning commission and present a revised zoning text ordinance to the commission within the next couple of months.


TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

00:52 – Amelia McCulley updates board on industrial uses performance standards

10:20 – Commissioner Calvin Morris asks how the county will handle all the performance standards and recommends a member of staff be sent to a schooling on international environmental standards

12:40 – Commissioner

Tom Loach

asks if there are any follow up conditions

16:07 – Commissioner

Linda Porterfield

asks what types of home occupations the performance standards will apply to

18:07 – McCulley begins second worksession for a zoning text amendment for home occupations

29:22 – Morris questions the prohibited uses that are not considered for home occupations

1:22:30 – Conclusion

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