Letter: Make your voice heard about overlay district
In 1998, the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors approved the Highway Corridor Overlay District Ordinance (Section 6A). For the last 15 years new businesses (e.g., banks, auto dealers, Sentara Emergency Care, Fox Mill Centre) constructed along Route 17, from approximately Hayes to the Court House, have complied with this ordinance. One, but not the only, requirement of this ordinance is a minimum of a 50-foot setback from Route 17 with a provision to plant trees and shrubs within this setback.
The current board of supervisors has voiced a sense that this 50-foot setback requirement is detrimental to new businesses coming to Gloucester because of its related expense and loss of property to the builder. Accordingly, they asked the Gloucester County Planning Commission to review the ordinance and make recommended changes to the board. The planning commission did as the board asked and the results were presented to the board at its March 18, 2014 meeting.
The purpose of this letter is to ask the residents of Gloucester County to contact their supervisor, and the supervisors at large, and voice their opinion as to what changes if any should be made to this recommended ordinance. The significant choices being offered are two. The planning commission wants to maintain the 50-foot setback with reduced landscaping requirements and the board wants to reduce the setback from 50 feet to as little as none at all with the hope of attracting new business to Route 17.
The board of supervisors is planning to meet with the planning commission members at a joint meeting on June 5 after a public hearing on the topic to reach consensus on this issue. I realize that the readers of this letter have a lot of demands on their time. However, a phone call or an e-mail to your supervisor, and supervisors at large, voicing your opinion may determine the amount and appearance of any future construction on Route 17. I urge you to find the time to let them know your thoughts before the June 5 public hearing and better yet at the hearing.