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Handgun Permit Revised, Concerns Over Unsightly Properties Aired

BUCKINGHAM – The August 13 meeting of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors included two public hearings.

Supervisors and planning commissioners joined forces for the first hearing, which focused on proposed amendments to the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.

Prior to the hearing, Zoning Administrator and Planner Rebecca Cobb provided an overview of the proposed revisions.

According to Cobb's presentation, changes in the Zoning Ordinance included permitting major subdivisions in the Agriculture, A-1, District, as authorized in the Subdivision Ordinance.

The second change focused on an issue that would come up later in the meeting regarding a telecommunications facility for the county's communications system.

With the proposed revision, a government wireless communications facility that is exclusively reserved for non-commercial public safety communications would be exempt from some of the provisions for commercial wireless communications facilities.

However, Cobb noted that the county would still have to comply with all federal and state building and structural requirements.

Moving to the Subdivision Ordinance, Cobb reviewed several proposed changes to definitions and wording.

When she asked if either the board or the commission had any questions, Commissioner Chet Maxey inquired about the right-of-way requirements for a family subdivision.

County Attorney E. M. Wright explained that the statutory requirement for a family subdivision stipulates more than 10 feet but less than 20. However, general subdivisions would have to comply with the 50-foot right-of-way requirement.

When the floor was opened to the public, no comments were offered and the hearing was closed.

Subsequently, Commission Chairman John Bickford asked commissioners if there was any discussion on the revisions. When there was none, Commissioner Sammy Smith led with a successful motion to recommend approval of the amendments/revisions to the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances as proposed.

In turn, Bickford advised BOS Chairman Monroe Snoddy that the commission was recommending the board approve the changes as presented.

At that point, with a motion by Supervisor Cassandra Stish, the board concurred with the commission's recommendation and approved the amendments as proposed.

Handgun Permit Ordinance Revised

The night's second hearing focused on revisions to the county's Concealed Handgun Permit Ordinance.

County Administrator Rebecca Carter shared that the proposed revisions are necessitated by changes in state law.

She explained that with the enactment of House Bill 754/Senate Bill 67, the state no longer requires fingerprints with an original application for a concealed handgun permit

Carter said the proposed revision eliminates the fingerprinting requirement to bring the county's ordinance into agreement with state law.

As with the first hearing, there were no public comments. Subsequently, after Chairman Snoddy closed the hearing, the board approved the revisions as presented.

Zoning Hearings Set for 9/10

Cobb provided supervisors with an overview of two zoning cases and requests to conduct public hearings on both of them. In turn, the board scheduled the hearings for its September 10 meeting, with the first hearing set for 7:15 p.m., followed by the second.

The first case involves an application from Ian Jackson, of I&J Home Builders, to rezone approximately 120 acres off Route 665, Twin Creek Road, Tudor Place Subdivision, from Agricultural (A-1) District to Residential Planned Unit Development (RPUD) District.

Jackson is seeking the rezoning to construct a 44-unit development that would include single story homes and townhouses.

The zoning administrator shared that the planning commission held a public hearing on the request at its May 23, 2011. Explaining that this was the first case dealing with the new RPUD District, she offered, “So you can tell the planning commission has worked quite a while with this applicant to make sure we do not miss anything.”

According to Cobb, the commission is now moving forward to recommend approval of the rezoning with 15 conditions and is asking that the board of supervisors conduct a public hearing on the request.

The second case involves a special use permit to operate a private recreational facility. Applicant Tim Hoag is seeking the permit to operate the facility in the Straight Street building located on Route 20.

According to Cobb, the commission held its public hearing on the request at its July 23 meeting. During that hearing, no one spoke either in favor or against the application.

Hoag plans to operate a sports training facility for area youth. Information provided in the board packet stated that Starz of the Future Sports Academy would offer area youth high quality instruction to improve and fine tune their athletic skills in a clean, safe, and family friendly environment.

The narrative with the application states that the initial focus would be to provide individual and small group baseball/softball instruction for boys and girls.

Facilities would include several indoor batting cages, with and without baseball and softball pitching machines. Batting cages would also be available to individuals or small groups on an hourly rental basis. Additionally, plans include portable pitching mounds that could be used with an instructor or rented for independent practice.

The narrative also included potential future expansion plans for outdoor batting cages and pitching areas, indoor golf instruction, indoor basketball instruction, indoor soccer instruction, indoor cardiovascular and weight training, and 3-on-3 youth basketball tournaments.

Hearing Set on Rifle Hunting from the Ground

Later in the meeting, Supervisor Bill Talbert requested that the board set a public hearing for input on the possibility of changing the county's rifle hunting regulations to include hunting with a rifle at ground level.

Responding to Talbert's request, Supervisor Stish said she would like the board to invite a representative from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to address the issue and share data.

In turn, Talbert said that he would like for Allen Cox, who Talbert described as very qualified to speak on the subject, to be included in the presentation to advise the board and answers questions.

Subsequently, supervisors, in a unanimous vote, agreed to hold a public hearing and scheduled it for the board's September 10 meeting following the two zoning-related hearings.

Public Comments

Several residents shared their concerns and frustrations about unsightly properties in county.

The first two speakers identified themselves as residents of District 1, which includes the New Canton and Georgia Creek precincts. They expressed their concerns about the parking and storage of vehicles and heavy equipment on a property in their neighborhood.

The first speaker, noting that the property is grandfathered and does not require fencing, asked the board to take a second look at what is grandfathered. She added that she feels the situation is bringing the value of her property down.

She asked that the owner be required to move the vehicles and equipment back from the road and fence the area to keep the vehicles from view.

“We would just like for him to be respectful of other people's property,” she shared, “Just clean it up.”

Echoing similar concerns, the next speaker requested the property be fenced and/or cleaned-up.

Changing gears, she also expressed safety concerns about the use of golf carts and four-wheelers on Route 703, Jones Town Road. Explaining that the vehicles pose a safety hazard for pedestrians and licensed vehicles, she asked that the county rescind the ordinance authorizing the use of the golf carts on that road, which is the only road listed in the ordinance.

A third speaker, a resident of District 6, Slate River Precinct, noted that she, too, was speaking on behalf of the beautification issue. She encouraged supervisors to ride around the county and take notice of all the old lawnmowers and equipment that need to be removed and the properties that need to be cleaned up. “We need to do the right thing,” she shared.

Later in the meeting, during a report from Kevin Wright, VDOT Residency Administrator, Chairman Snoddy, who represents District 1, asked Wright how the county could dispose of the regulation allowing golf carts on Route 703.

County Administrator Rebecca Carter offered that some years ago, the board adopted the ordinance allowing the use of golf carts on that specific road.

Wright, noting that he has not had any experience in dealing with that type of situation, said it would be his opinion that the county would have to rescind its ordinance.

However, he stressed that the ordinance only allows golf carts not all-terrain vehicles/four-wheelers or other unlicensed vehicles.

At the conclusion of the agenda, Chairman Snoddy shared that he has received plenty of complaints regarding the property referenced during the citizen comment segment.

Talbert suggested the zoning administrator write a letter to the owner and ensure that the property complies with the requirements of the zoning ordinance.

Supervisor Staton added that he'd like to add the old service station on Route 15 near the James River to that letter list.

Stish offered, “I'm thinking that maybe we should follow through on a couple of these and see what happens.”

Noting that he also received complaints about the property in District 1, Bryan added, “I do agree there are some other areas in the county that we need to look at and we need to address those as well.”

“Do it on a one-on-one basis, though,” stressed Talbert.

Bryan responded, “Yes.” He added, “This is not a witch hunt.” He concluded that as a resident of Buckingham he wants the county to continue to be a nice place to live.

VDOT Report

Kevin Wright updated the board on several projects in the county. He began with a project on Route 15 at its intersection with Route 669. Wright said that project, which involves eliminating a vertical curve, is well underway and should be open to traffic by early October.

Regarding a Rural Rustic Road project for Route 697, Wright said the road has received its first coat of asphalt and should receive another this week.

Likewise, Wright reported that a Rural Rustic Road project for a section of Route 636 has had some grading work but there were some utility conflicts, which he said have now been moved out of the way. He added that workers would probably be able to finish that project over the next 30 to 45 days.

According to Wright, a Rural Rustic project for Route 700 is under design and some grading work may take place this fall. However, he said the road probably would not be surface treated until early spring. Wright added that the project does call for some reconfiguration of the intersection.

Wright also advised supervisors that VDOT has hired Scott Shippee as the assistant residency administrator.

“Some of you may know Scott. He is a native of Buckingham County and graduated from Buckingham County High School,” shared Wright. Describing Shippee as “well-educated and well experienced in the matters of highways and roads,” Wright said he would be a great addition to the residency.<br />
Supervisor Talbert expressed his appreciation to Wright and VDOT employees for the new stop signs at Sheppards.

Wright said that they would continue to monitor the intersection and if more problems are encountered they will see what other steps can be taken.

Snoddy asked about the state signs for Route 670, Carter G. Woodson Road. Wright responded that the signs have been ordered and as soon as they come in, they will be placed.

Supervisor Stish shared that Warminster Church Road is incorrectly spelled Warminister on the street-signs.

Wright, in turn, asked if the sign was a blue sign, and Stish responded that it was.

At that point, the county administrator noted that the blue signs are county signs not state signs and are the county's responsibility.

When the floor was opened to citizens with road concerns, Ben Gormus expressed his appreciation for the job VDOT is doing on Route 669. “It makes a tremendous difference,” he stated. “It's a nice job.”