With Vice Chairman
(Rio) presiding, the Board of Supervisors has voted to place a discussion of rural area ordinances on the agenda for
its next meeting on January 23rd
. The move came over the fierce opposition of Supervisor
(Scottsville) who initially voted to place the items on the agenda, but later withdrew his support.
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The items were last discussed at the Board’s meeting on October 10, 2007
. After a public hearing at which more than 80 citizens spoke, the six members of the Board stale-mated on whether or not to pass the three ordinances. One is related to the protection of stream buffers, another concerns holding periods for lots on family sub-divisions, and the third provides for protection of critical slopes. Supervisors could not reach consensus and were split 3-3 on whether to move the ordinances forward. Three months later,
(White Hall) has replaced David Wyant on the Board, meaning that the vote could be different when it is heard next week.
(Rivanna) was out of town and Slutzky took the gavel in his absence. As is the custom at Board meetings, he asked Supervisors if they had any business not on the agenda that they would like to bring up and Supervisor
(Samuel Miller) brought the matter before the Board.
“We had a public hearing that filled this room,” she said. “A lot of people spoke to us. We did not take action that night, and that seems to me to be not entirely a good way to deal with those large items that were left hanging.” Thomas said she asked staff in early December to bring back suggestions on how to proceed with the ordinances given the public input given at the October 10, 2007
meeting. She then proceeded to make the following motion:
“I move that the Board place on its January 23rd agenda, for further consideration or action, the following Ordinances which were deferred by the Board of Supervisors at the conclusion of their public hearings on October 10, 2007:
Subdivision Ordinance Amendment STA 2007-00002
with direction to staff to revise the proposed ordinance to provide that the holding period for a family subdivision will be a four year holding period before and after the subdivision;
Zoning Ordinance Amendment ZTA 2007-00003
with direction to staff to revise the ordinance to delete the provisions changing the critical slopes regulation so that the ordinance will now only address safe and convenient access for driveways. In addition, staff is directed to revise proposed §4.6.6(d) to provide that the safe and convenient access regulations will apply to existing lots unless there is a finding by the County Engineer that development of lots for the first single-family dwelling applying those regulations would be impracticable; and
Water Protection Ordinance Amendment WPTA 2007-01
with direction to staff to delete the proposed definition of “rural areas,” because it is a term that is not used in the ordinance; and to revise proposed §17-321 to eliminate the redunancy in subsections (1), (2), and (3) and to simplify the language, this being a non-substantive revision for the purpose of clarity.
(Jack Jouett) seconded the motion, Dorrier asked if citizens could apply for waivers to bypass the ordinances. Thomas suggested that could be discussed at the next meeting. A vote was taken, and the five Supervisors present voted to place the ordinances on the agenda for next week.
Wayne Cilimberg, the County’s Director of Planning and Community Development, asked if there was any additional information that staff should provide on the ordinances in advance of the January 23 meeting. Rooker said only a brief introduction would be necessary.
“We did spend a huge amount of time on these over the last year, and I think it’s just a case that we have not acted,” Rooker said.
Slutzky pointed out that the motion identified several changes to the ordinances, reflecting public input. He suggested that staff point out those changes. Dorrier asked if the public would have the chance to weigh in on the ordinances, and Thomas said that they already have.
“I think we had about a six or seven hour public hour hearing, and I can’t imagine that there any opinions that have not been expressed on this on both sides,” Rooker said. He added that the critical slopes portion of the ordinance would not be on the agenda.
Dorrier protested further, and asked County Attorney Larry Davis if his office needed to review the amended ordinances. Davis said his office would amend the ordinances per Thomas’ request, and that the amended ordinances would be available in his office and on the County website by Thursday, January 17.
Dorrier said he wanted Cilimberg’s office to prepare a summary of the public comment period.
“I think we need something from those public hearings, I mean, I can’t remember it all, I remember the issues, but I don’t remember all the comments,” Dorrier said. Slutzky said he thought all the Supervisors heard the input.
“I actually learned things in the public hearing that made me rethink my position a little bit,” Slutzky said. “And I think at this next meeting, it’s closing the loop on an issue that’s sort of been hanging out there and the public doesn’t really know what we’re doing because we haven’t done anything. We had a public hearing and then we’ve been silent.”
Thomas suggested Dorrier listen to the public hearing again via the
County’s podcast center
The conversation continued for several minutes, with Dorrier protesting that acting on the ordinances is not legal without an additional public hearing. Rooker pointed out that the Board could have changed the ordinances and voted immediately after the October 10 public hearing, but chose not to. Slutzky exercised his powers as temporary chair to move on from the debate, pointing out that the motion to bring up the ordinances next week had already passed.
But, Dorrier brought up the issue two more times during the rest of the Board meeting.
During matters before the public, Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum stood up to say the public would only have two business days to review the amended ordinances in the County Attorney’s office. County offices are closed on both Friday, January 18 and Monday, January 21 due to public holidays.
“This board generally goes above and beyond any legal requirement to make certain the public has the opportunity to review the legislation that you’re planning,” Williamson said. He asked for the item to be moved into February to give the public more time to review the changes.
After Williamson’s comments, Dorrier said the public would be more accepting of the ordinances if they had more time to consider them. Slutzky said that’s why the public hearing had been previously held.
At the end of the meeting, Dorrier once again raised his concern that the Board was acting inappropriately. He asked again for the Board to reconsider and wanted to make his case. Rooker said he doubted that Dorrier would find anyone to second a motion to rescind the vote, but Dorrier made his case again, but did not receive a second.
Slutzky again explained that the public had had plenty of time to a lot of give feedback, and the Board has the right to vote on ordinance changes at any time after a public hearing has been held.
“We’re allowed to vote on it at that time or later, so long as we don’t exceed the extent of those ordinances, and in this case, Ms. Thomas’s motion is a scaled-back version of the ordinances that the public has already had significant opportunity to comment on,” Slutzky said. “We wouldn’t consider moving today to actually vote on it, frankly, because Ken [Boyd] was not here, so it was out of deference to that fact in part that the decision was made to bring it on the agenda for a later date.”
Dorrier asked if he could change his vote to place the item on the agenda, but was told by Slutzky that his displeasure would be noted in the minutes, but he could not actually change his vote on the record.
The January 23 meeting will begin at 12:30 PM.