Industrial zoning discussed at hearing

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

MOUNT JACKSON — The Mount Jackson Planning Commission unanimously recommended Town Council approve the rezoning of a piece of town land from agricultural to limited industrial last Monday.

Commissioners held a joint public hearing with council to discuss the request made by property owner Melinda A. Monroe. Monroe didn’t comment during the hearing.

The commission voted 5-0 to make the recommendation during its regular meeting after the hearing. Commissioner Mark Bowyer was absent from both.

The 10-acre parcel at 3126 Turkey Knob Road borders the 712-acre site along Turkey Knob and Georgetown roads that property owners Robert and Eleanor Whitehurst hope to use to attract industry.

Steve Stein, who lives on Wissler Road outside of town, said during the hearing that the town’s zoning code is inadequate to handle a corporation of the size envisioned establishing itself in Mount Jackson.

“The zoning code hasn’t been looked at in over a decade,” Stein said. “With the probability of something coming in, we need to make sure the code is looked at to protect property owners.”

To date, the Whitehursts have not announced that any businesses have indicated they are looking to locate on the property.

On Aug. 11, council approved the annexation of 576 acres of the Whitehursts’ land from Shenandoah County into Mount Jackson. The annexation was approved on the condition town officials update the comprehensive plan before deciding whether to rezone it.

The review process started in December and will continue for the next few months, Planning Commission Chairwoman Bonnie Good said.

According to Mount Jackson’s code, a limited industrial, or I-1, district allows “certain industries which do not in any way detract from residential desirability to locate in an area adjacent to residential uses.”

The code further says no land uses are permitted by right in such a district except for buildings or utilities owned or operated by the town.

Therefore, all private businesses in an I-1 district require a special-use permit to operate.

Stein said the I-1 rules are too broad, and if restrictions aren’t added, the site could attract “potentially undesirable” property owners.

“We don’t want to see rising smokestacks,” he said. “We don’t want to do something that will have a negative impact.”

Good proposed the town hold workshops with Milton J. Herd, president of Leesburg-based Herd Planning and Design. The firm helps communities design comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances.

Good said the 712 acres don’t have to go to a manufacturer, and the code allows for restaurants and retail space in an I-1 district.

“We’re giving a lot of thought to what would be the best way to develop that area,” Good said. “We could have shops, apartments, condos. There are so many options.”

Council is scheduled to decide whether to approve Monroe’s rezoning application during its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

More news

Subscribe to our mailing list
Twitter  FaceBook  RSS