Foster Road Rezoned

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CUMBERLAND – County Supervisors took action on a rezoning request that will bring the majority of properties on Foster Road in the courthouse area of Cumberland closer into conformance with zoning standards and make the properties consistent with the courthouse growth area during the Board's August meeting.

According to Bret Schardein, Cumberland planning director, by changing the properties from agricultural (A-2) to rural residential (R-2) the property owners will have more flexibility as to how they can subdivide their land, and will have more by-right and conditional uses with the area. The 15 properties that accepted the County's zoning request to change to the residential make up total 33.241 acres and are located just behind the Courthouse in Cumberland's village area.

“The A-2 zoning district that they are currently zoned as is primarily for large scale farming, things like that, and it's not really conducive to the small typical one-acre lots in R-2 that's served by utilities,” he said. “Staff's goal in this was to just provide the citizens along Foster Road some more flexibility as to how they can use their property…and give them some more build-able area by the reduced setbacks in R-2.”

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Schardein explained that the current uses of the properties along Foster Road are not “consistent with the A-2 zoning district” and that the rural residential designation would be better suited for these properties given their location within the County's growth area and water and sewer availability.

The Planning Commission held its public hearing in July and recommended that the Board of Supervisors adopt this zoning change for Foster Road.

There was also a public hearing held during this meeting.

During the Board's public hearing, one citizen addressed their concerns related to the issue with setbacks and if the amount would increase or decrease due to the new zoning designation.

When asked by the Board, Schardein said that the majority of the property owners had expressed interest in seeing the properties rezoned to residential.

Kevin Ingle, a property owner on Foster Road, addressed the Board during its public hearing, and asked, “We were told that we'd have to apply for variances if our setback didn't meet the requirement for residential zoning…In the R-2 zoning, you must have 150-feet of road frontage to develop the lot. I'd like to have that formally addressed tonight…”

Chairman Van Petty asked that Schardein and Cumberland's County Attorney, Howard Estes, speak to the setback issue that was raised by Ingle during the public hearing about the parcels still only having a setback of 100-feet, not the needed 150-feet.

In the County's previous zoning ordinance, the frontage and lot widths were two different dimensions but when the new zoning ordinance was adopted, which took effect August 1, the width became that it had to be at least the same as the frontage, according to Schardein so the dimension descriptions were removed for width of lots.

“There was also a footnote designating different roads such as Foster Road and Kimberly Hills that had reduced frontage,” he continued. “When we adopted that ordinance that wording was not carried over and I spoke to the previous Planning Director and…it was his intent to have that wording carried over and it just was not…”

The minimum frontage required for rural residential is 150 feet, Schardein noted. For the previous agricultural zoning it was 350-feet so the change does bring the properties closer into conformance.

“But we would still need to address that 100-foot issue in either an amendment to the zoning ordinance or a zoning classification or with individual variances,” Schardein added.

Estes noted that this could be considered “spot-zoning,” which is what the new ordinance was trying to get away from by making the amendments.

“They should actually have their own zoning classification,” said Estes to the Board. “Because they have never met the terms and conditions of the zoning ordinance and we've been working through these for the last year and a half or so trying to make sure that the ordinances are defensible-having a footnote for certain roads is really not defensible.”

Estes recommended that the Planning Commission address this “very issue” in the near future.

“We've got lots in the county and people cannot build on them because of the frontage issue,” he added. “I think that this requires some study to make a holistic approach… It is an issue that we've been aware of.”

A variance going from a standard of 150-feet to 100 would look a lot better when it goes before the Board of Zoning Appeals, according to Estes, because previously when it was zoned agricultural the property owners were going from 350-feet when asking for a variance, Estes described.

Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, asked if it was okay to move forward with the rezoning request because 'it does provide a number of enhancements” or “do we just table this for the time being until it is addressed through the zoning ordinance?”

According to Estes, the parcels are in the growth area and the rezoning “should add more value to those parcels because it would allow the flexibility of reduced setbacks rather than A-2 which has greater setbacks.”

“It should be an improvement for them especially in the courthouse growth area,” continued Estes. “…16 parcels would be fixed by this.”

Schardein also addressed Supervisor Osl's question and said that two garages and one dwelling are in the planning phase and have obtained permits since the rezoning request was originally initiated.

“There is one development activity currently in the works that would be hoping to see that done,” noted Schardein about the reduced setback that would exist if the rezoning occurred.

The Planning Director also noted that within the next three months the Planning Commission would also be able to take care of the Foster Road variance issue and how it correlates with Cumberland's new zoning ordinance.

With the understanding that the County's Planning Commission will begin working on the entire Foster Road area as it correlates to the new zoning ordinance, Supervisor Osl made a motion to rezone the parcels on the road as residential. The motion was approved unanimously.

“I think it will make sense to have a joint meeting,” said Estes about creating a new zoning category that would be targeted towards areas such as Kimberly Hill, Trices Lake, and Foster Road in Cumberland. “You're going to create some lots that will be building…it is something that we need to look at carefully…and I know the Planning Commission will want that too.”