RA-1 Recommendation

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, February 24, 2011

CUMBERLAND – The County's Planning Commission finalized a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday evening to leave Cumberland's recreational area access, RA-1, zoning district just as it has been for the last 40 years.

The Commission had received feedback from landowners in the RA-1 district during a scheduled community meeting on January 31, according to Andrew Sorrell, Cumberland's planning director.

“Landowners overwhelmingly made it known both verbally and in writing that they did not (want) changes made to the RA-1 zoning district,” relayed Sorrell to The Herald on Wednesday morning. “This was confirmed by over 25 completed written citizen surveys received at and after the meeting that stated the same.”

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The Planning Commission, after receiving the feedback, unanimously decided to make a recommendation that no changes be made to Cumberland's recreational area access zoning district at this time during its meeting on Tuesday.

“Landowners feel it is working just fine as is,” concluded Sorrell.

In January, approximately 35 citizens either attended the community information meeting or relayed information to Cumberland's planning and zoning staff regarding their thoughts on the status of the RA-1 (recreational area access) zoning district, according to information that was presented to the Planning Commission in their packet for the meeting.

The Commission, in hopes that landowners would hear background information about the current RA-1 zoning district in the Trents Mill area of Cumberland and become more informed about the possible options, hosted that community forum in order to formulate a recommendation back to the Board of Supervisors.

The Commission was petitioned by the Board in November to research the 40-year-old RA-1 zoning district in Cumberland after many citizens voiced concerns during a public hearing concerning a proposed industrial park off of Poorhouse Road-that rezoning application was submitted by Cumberland's Industrial Development Authority and Ag Renewable Resources LLC has proposed to construct an anaerobic digester (which would create energy using poultry waste and manufacture fertilizer) within the industrial park.

During the community meeting landowners were given several options to choose from related to the RA-1 zoning district in a survey that was taken.

According to information provided in the Commission's packet, one option was for the zoning district to stay the same; the second was for it to change; the third was for the zoning district to be removed; the fourth was for it to be replaced with a “scenic overlay district;” and the fifth option was for no preference.

According to the results, the majority of the landowners wished to see the RA-1 district left the same.

Only one response indicated that it should be changed to a scenic overlay district and three responses indicated no preference.

In Sorrell's information provided to the Commission he did indicate that several comments were received during the public forum that did lead him to believe that a change in the building setbacks should be considered.

“Staff feels that public and private roads other than State Route 60 and 622 be permitted a building setback of 75 feet from the centerline of the roadway,” noted Sorrell.

The other characteristics, he described in the Commission's information, should remain the same.

The Planning Director noted in his correspondence with the Commission that it should remain the same because the district is already familiar to landowners because it has been active in the county for 40 years and landowners have had that amount of time to get comfortable with the requirements; and that by not changing the code there would be no additional cost to the County; and the district continues to work to preserve the rural and scenic qualities of the entrance to Bear Creek Lake Park, which was the original intention.

A significant reason the zoning district should stay the same, Sorrell stated, was because the question was asked of Cumberland's citizens and a response was received-landowners made it clear that they did not want significant changes made to the RA-1 district.

The Commission's recommendation will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval during its next meeting on March 8.