Planners, supervisors discuss proposed changes to site plan rules

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Apr 24, 2013 - 02:01 PM

A joint public hearing of the Mathews County Board of Supervisors and the Mathews County Planning Commission on April 16 drew an audience of just two people.

Under consideration were two proposals for text amendments to the Mathews County Zoning Ordinance. The first, which would change the name of the ordinance titled "Sailing Clubs and Schools" to "Watercraft Clubs and Schools," thereby expanding the types of vessels covered, drew no discussion, and after the supervisors adjourned, the planning commission quickly voted to send the proposed changes to the supervisors next week with a recommendation for approval.

However, a proposed change to Article 17 in the ordinance, which governs site plans, proved to be more controversial. It generated a great deal of discussion among board and commission members, and after supervisors adjourned, the planning commission voted to table a decision pending further work.

The overall intent of the changes proposed for Article 17, according to planning and zoning director John Shaw, is to eliminate duplication of VDOT’s road sign design requirements and simplify the ordinance. But one proposed change would place a more stringent requirement on retail businesses, professional offices and home occupations seeking to expand the square footage of their structures. It would reduce the square footage triggering the requirement for a site plan review from 5,000 square feet to 1,000 square feet.

Supervisors Janine Burns and Neena Putt expressed reluctance to place what they considered to be an extra burden on small business owners with home occupations by requiring that they have site plans completed for additions of as little as 1,000 square feet. However, commission member Chuck Dawson said that a 5,000 square foot building was sizable itself and that he could foresee problems with allowing such a large expansion without site plan requirements for ingress, egress and parking.