Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
has amended the county’s zoning ordinance to allow for heavy industry to be located on land currently designated for light industrial uses.
Under the new rules, most uses allowed by-right in heavy industrial zoning districts could be done in light industrial districts as long as the property owner applied for and received a special use permit. Examples of heavy industrial uses include body shops, concrete mixing plants and manufacturing.
Listen using player above or download the podcast:
“I kind of look at the special use permit as kind of a second level of zoning,” said Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning. He cited the denial in April 2007 of a special use permit that would have allowed the
Soccer Organization of Charlottesville Albemarle
to build new indoor and lighted outdoor facilities off Polo Grounds Road. In that case, many nearby residents urged denial of the permit because it was out of scale and in the rural area.
The ordinance change addresses one of the key objectives of the economic development action plan adopted by the board in January. In that plan, staff were directed to find ways to “remove obstacles and expand options for industrial land users.” An inventory of the county’s heavy industrial land found that there were only 44 acres zoned for such uses.
All six supervisors supported the change, which would give neighbors the ability to speak out against a proposed use at the public hearing required for any special use permit.
“I don’t see this as a problem in the sense that the special use permit allows you to shape conditions to deal with any specific circumstances that arise,” said Supervisor
Albemarle County resident Pam Evans said she could appreciate the need to stream-line business, but warned against a lack of due diligence.
“There are many reasons why locally we have separated heavy industry from light industry,” Evans said. “To systematically clear away protections for residents and schools should be of concern to all of us, including businesses.”
The next phase in Albemarle County’s industrial zoning review will be to evaluate the best types of uses in light industrial zones, which is expected to include the possibility of limiting office uses.