Residents speak out on zoning concerns

The Pendleton County Joint Planning Commission held a public meeting to discuss the Application made by the Pendleton County Fiscal Court regarding text amendment to the Pendleton County Ordinance. The ordinance originated July 1, 2008 and has been twice amended.

In 2008 text amendments were made to allow underground mining as a permitted use in all zones. In 2009 text amendments were made to allow additional conditional uses in the Rural Zones.

Pendleton County Zoning Administrator Brian Thompson stated that changes in economic, industries and demographics have created new proposals, which, do not fit application or make an interpretation that the us fits within the ordinance due to similar uses contained within the ordinance.

The Pendleton County Fiscal Court wants the ordinance to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The court submitted this application to better reflect the wants and needs of Pendleton County citizens.  Thompson stated that he is going to present these changes to the commission with the staff recommendations for their consideration. After the recommendations the public will have a chance to speak on any of the proposals. A few of the proposals brought people in to discuss more than the others.

First, was Section 6.21 Garage Sales. The staff made the recommendation: approval with changes, provides separation of garage sales and businesses and Consistent with Community Image Goals in the Comprehensive Plan. The Commission should consider limitation language to limit the number of yard sales a person can have within a year as well as the number allowed on one lot. Staff suggests the addition of “Family” to “Person” definition. Staff also suggests raising the number of yard sales allowed on a lot from 3 to a number agreed upon.

Next was Section 7.0 Rural (R) Zone. D Conditional Uses. 17 Accessory Dwelling Units limited to one per parcel and one additional per every 40 acres. Staff recommendation: Approval, BOA has asked for clarification. Sets limits on accessory dwelling units. Staff Suggests the following definition to be placed in Article 15: Dwelling, Accessory: An accessory dwelling unit is a habitable living unit detached from a single-family dwelling that provides basic requirements for independent living, cooking sleeping and sanitation facilities.

The last change that brought in people to discuss was Section 7.0, D Rural Zone. 20 Event facilities allowing meetings, weddings, receptions, and other related events or gatherings on private property on at least 40 contiguous acres. Staff Recommendation: Approval with changes, intentions are to allow farmers to diversify their farms to allow productive farms the benefit of agri-tourism to subsidize any loss in income from discontinued programs such as the tobacco base. We should ask for direction from our USDA Agents to help with language to assist productive farms without allowing farms to be bought for the sole purpose of running event facilities. Requiring crop reports to be turned in for a period of five years may be a good way to ensure the farm is truly being operated as a farm and the event facility is accessory to this. Other options are to tie the use in with the definition of Value Added Agricultural Production. This will set parameters ensuring the agricultural use is the primary operation and the event centers are accessory to this.  The Comprehensive Plan stresses preservation of agricultural uses, so this would allow ag uses to benefit without the threat of losing farms to commercial activity.

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