Town Seeks New Zoning Class for 1,200-acre Tract

BLYTHEWOOD – Although listed toward the bottom of the agenda, two discussion items were the most important items on the Planning Commission’s agenda Monday night. Those were: ‘Update on amending D-1 Zoning district’ and ‘Prioritization of pending code reform tasks.’

The first discussion item referred to a large tract of land between I-77 and the Ashley Oaks subdivision. About 900 acres of the parcel had been zoned Light Industrial Research Park (LIRP) by the Ballew administration in 2003 and was rezoned D-1 by the incoming Amoth administration in 2004. Town Administrator John Perry explained to the Commission that a subcommittee he serves on is working on a plan to modify about 1,200 acres of that particular D-1 to another zoning classification that would emulate D-1 but include both an Advanced Manufacturing district and a Light Industrial Research Park (LIRP) district.”

Perry said the tract in question includes primarily Barnett, McElveen and Swigert family land on the west side of I-77 and some on the east side. There are other D-1 zoned properties in the town, but Perry said he would not include all the town’s D-1 zoned property in this modified zoning district — only this particular tract. He did not say what the new zoning term would be for the proposed modified district.

The North Point Industrial Park, which is in the County, lies to the south of the D-1 property.

“We want to get more compatible with the County and sort of stay with LIRP and Advanced Manufacturing [zoning], moving north from the Industrial Park,” Perry said. “As we move closer to the town, the zoning will step down from Advanced Manufacturing in the southern portion of what is now the large D-1 parcel to LIRP zoning to the Town District commercial zoning.”

Perry said the subcommittee working to modify the D-1 zoned tract would meet again in late June or early July. Although both Perry and Planning Commissioner Mike Switzer repeatedly referred to the subcommittee that was working on the modifications, when asked by The Voice to identify the members of the subcommittee, Perry said the subcommittee was not an appointed subcommittee but was made up of several members of the County and Town staffs.

The creation of a zoning district that would include Advanced Manufacturing and LIRP zoning is one of seven proposals for code reform in the town that Perry said are being worked on by another subcommittee. Perry said he was bringing the seven proposed code reforms before the Planning Commission for prioritization.

Perry said much subcommittee work had already been done to reform three of the Town’s codes: Landscape and Tree Ordinance, D-1 zoning (to include Advanced Manufacturing and LIRP zoning) and Auto Repair businesses in the Town Center district.

The Planning Commission prioritized the seven proposals for code reform in the following order:

1. Landscape and Tree Ordinance.

2. Advanced Manufacturing.

3. Auto Repair Businesses. Perry explained that auto repair businesses located in the Town Center, such as Pope Tire Company, are currently designated as non-conforming. “If a calamity were to destroy a [specified] portion of Pope Tire,” Perry said, “under the current code, that business would not be allowed to continue to operate or build back.” He said that, with modifications to the code, these businesses could conform by making certain architectural changes to their buildings and continue operating in the Town Center.

4. Vehicular signs. Perry said he would propose that signs on vehicles, such as on the side of a tractor trailer, not be allowed to park in the Town. He said the sign on the truck is, in effect, a non-conforming sign.

5. Subdivision Construction Signs. Perry said he would like to see a provision for on-site signs to, among other things, have an effective date of removal. Off-site signs are currently not allowed under the Town’s billboard ordinance.

6. Outdoor lighting. Modification of this ordinance would provide for stricter enforcement. It could also allow residential neighborhoods a ‘dark sky’ option.

7. Home Occupations. Currently, under most of the Town’s residential zoning districts, home occupations must obtain a special exception from the Town’s Board of Zoning Appeals before the owners can obtain a business license from Town Hall. Perry would like to see most home business classifications be allowed to buy a business license without applying to the BZA for a special exception. This would have the effect of increasing the number of business license purchased from the Town and eliminate the $100 cost to apply for a special exception to the BZA, Perry said. Exceptions might apply to businesses with heavy traffic from outside employees or UPS trucks making and picking up deliveries. Those businesses might still have to apply to the BZA for special exceptions.

Rezoning annexed properties

In other business, the Commission voted to recommend final zoning for two parcels of land on Sandfield Road — a 1-acre parcel (TMS # 17900-04-31) owned by Doug and U-Yong Skroback and used as a Tae Kwon Do studio and an adjoining 6.4-acre parcel (TMS # 17900-04-06) owned by Richard Allen – that were annexed in 2009, but were never given final zoning by the Town.

“Shortly after the annexation of the two properties,” Perry explained, “the Town Clerk left the Town’s employment, and the zoning of the properties was overlooked by staff.” When the annexation came to the County for recording, the County colored it, identifying it with the County’s R-12 zoning color. Perry said it came to the Town’s attention that the property was never properly zoned when the Skrobacks recently had the property appraised. When annexed in 2009, the Skrobacks had asked for Neighborhood Commercial zoning and Allen had asked for Rural zoning. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend those respective zonings.

D. R. Horton lots in Cobblestone

The Commission voted unanimously to allow D. R. Horton builders to reduce by 2 feet the minimum side building set-backs for up to 115 lots in The Farm section of Cobblestone Park. The builder asked for the additional setback to allow a larger footprint to accommodate ranch style homes designed with senior accessibility.

The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for June 10 at 6 p.m., when it will hold a public hearing on the budget and review the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) as well as all funds in the Town’s proposed budget.