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Grocery Stores May Be Added To B-3

CUMBERLAND – During Cumberland County's Planning Commission meeting last week, the planners unanimously rec-ommended adding grocery stores as a by-right use in the County's business, B-3, zoning.

The Commission held a public hearing related to the code amendment on Monday, July 16 and there were about 10 citizens present, according to Cumberland's Planning Director Bret Schardein.

“The only comment was stressing that although the change would affect those B-3 properties in the Farmville area, the real need for a grocery is in the Courthouse area, which I agree with completely,” provided Schardein to The Herald after the meet-ing. “Commission discussion was unanimous in saying that they wanted to do everything possible to attract a grocery store to the Courthouse area.”

It's important to note that this code amendment is not part of a specific grocery store's plan to come to Cumberland at this time, according to Schardein.

“…I don't want anyone to get their hopes up that if this is approved that means a grocery store is necessarily coming, rather it is just to make our County's zoning more attractive to a grocery store to increase the likelihood of one coming,” he stated.

The B-3 zoning is not the only zoning property for a grocery store in Cumberland.

Currently, the County's ordinance allows grocery stores, by-right, in B-1 and B-2 business zoning already so this is just add-ing more properties to the list of possibilities.

“Something else worth mentioning is that almost all of Cumberland is officially designated as a 'rural food desert' by the USDA,” offered Schardein, “meaning a high percentage of the population is not within 10 miles of a supermarket, so the coun-ty's food access problem is well acknowledged.”

Schardein, in absence of a grocery store, encouraged citizens to visit the newly opened Farmers Market in the Cumberland village area every Wednesday.

The grocery store code amendment recommendation from the Commission now moves forward to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. The Board will hold its own public hearing in August.