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Supes to consider rezoning issue

Halifax County Supervisors plan to reconsider Mary Blakeslee’s request to rezone the Belt Subdivision in the Shepherd’s Gate community to allow single-family residential dwellings when they meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the Mary Bethune office complex in Halifax.

The planning commission held an advisory public hearing in August, and supervisors held a public hearing on the rezoning request in September, but they delayed acting on the request following the hearing.

At the supervisor’s hearing in September, two business owners in the area proposed for rezoning — Ernie’s Restaurant owner Ronnie Green and Cook’s Automotive owner Les Cook — spoke out against the request based on traffic and disruptions to their business by increased residential development.

One business owner outside the area spoke out against the request based on problems associated with a nearby multi-family apartment building.

One property owner requested his property be protected as he owned three houses and was concerned they could not be rebuilt if damaged more than 50 percent of the assessed value.

One owner of adjacent property voiced concerns that increased setbacks required on his property if rezoning occurred would create a financial hardship for future use of his property.

And one letter was received noting a resident was concerned about low-income residential development.

According to County Administrator Jim Halasz, in general their comments questioned the disruption of the quiet neighborhood and the possibility of increased traffic from new housing within the subdivision.

Rezoning of the parcels in question to R-1 would restrict the properties to single-family residential, instead of allowing commercial and industrial development, the county administrator explained.

Supervisors tabled the matter at the September meeting until staff could provide additional information.

After reviewing the history of the development within the Belt Subdivision, Halasz said, “It appears that it has been overwhelmingly developed for residential purposes – that was the original intent and use over time.”

With the rezoning of the area to M-1, Industrial Limited, all homes in the subdivision were made non-conforming in nature and cannot be expanded or rebuilt should major damage occur.

Approximately 35 existing homes are currently non-conforming uses by the M-1, Industrial Limited classification, Halasz pointed out.

He said exisiting and future land use map in the comprehensive plan depicts this area as residential by use.

By the proposed rezoning it appears up to 15 homes could possibly be constructed on parcels if approved, Halasz said, noting he has talked with Virginia Department of Transportation concerning the rezoning.

“It is the position of staff that a change to R-1- residential limited — would limit and reduce traffic compared to developing the lands as business or industrial.”

He noted that if supervisors vote to rezone the area, existing businesses would become grandfathered, non-conforming uses and would be permitted to remain in operation or sold.

Halasz is recommending supervisors approve the rezoning as suggested by the planning commission following its August public hearing.

In other board action tonight, supervisors are scheduled to hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. before considering adopting an ordinance to change due dates of local business licenses.

Currently the licenses are due by March 1. However, business owners have stated accountants have until March 15 to get businesses their last year figures.

Because figures are not available to many until after the March 1 due date, owners are estimating their gross receipts, the county administrator said.

By changing the due date to April 1, business owners will be able to provide more accurate numbers when renewing local business licenses, he explained.

Also tonight, supervisors are expected to take the following actions:

Hear status reports from the Virginia Department of Transportation and remind supervisors of a joint meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mary Bethune public meeting room to discuss possible six-year plan projects and other items of interest regarding transportation;

 Hear a report from Todd Moser, director of animal control, regarding ongoing activities and operations at the county pound and measures to control animals throughout the county;

Since irresponsible dog ownership and behavior are responsible for the costs borne by Halifax County taxpayers, animal control staff, county staff and other local partners are suggesting the board consider implementing the following changes:

 A reduced license fee for spayed and neutered dogs

 Multi-year licenses

 An increase in license fees

 A change in kennel license fees from a straight cost of $50 to a tiered cost based on the number of kennels

 Issuing kennel licenses only to licensed, commercial breeders

 Use of more volunteers in the pound

 Restrictions on dogs running at large upon request of landowners

 Issuance of licenses at veterinary offices

Supervisors also are expected to take the following actions tonight:

 Recognize former volunteer fire chiefs for their service to the community;

 Consider approving the revised Emergency Operations Plan;

 Consider approving participation in the Virginia Association of Counties sponsored Local Disability Program beginning Jan. 1 for new employees of the county;

 Receive a brief summary of the 2013 Halifax County Fair;

 Consider setting the date for the annual planning session for Thursday, Dec. 12;

 Consider approval of a resolution provided by the Route 501 Committee establishing a project priority list for consideration by the Virginia Department of Transportation for inclusion and funding in the Six-Year Plan.

 Consider approval of 2014 event schedule for South Boston Speedway;

 Consider making appointments to Southside Regional Group Home Commission, Transportation Safety Commission, Improvement Council, Lake Country Area Agency on Aging and Southside Planning District Commission; and

At the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, supervisors are expected to go behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss specific personnel matters, the acquisition or disposition of property; the protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; to consult with legal council; and to discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.