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Halifax County supervisors reject zoning request along Huell Matthews Highway

SoVaNow.com / September 10, 2020


For a second time, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors has denied a land use request for potential business on Huell Matthews Highway in Cluster Springs.

Tuesday night, supervisors nixed a rezoning permit request for a nearly 38-acre tract on the highway owned by Donnie and Ruth Green. In June, representatives first approached the Board of Supervisors to request a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a billboard. After community members in the area complained of light pollution, supervisors tabled the motion, also expressing concerns that the request could be considered “spot zoning”.

This time, the board turned down the request to rezone the land, with no business use specified in the zoning request. ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon, who supported the rezoning, noted that the county’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan identified the highway corridor as ideal for business growth, and Brandon asked, “Where else are we supposed to have growth if not along a dual highway such as the 501 corridor?”

In contrast, community members who spoke at the Tuesday board meeting urged supervisors to maintain county control over the land’s use.

Donna Hudson, Kenneth Owen, and Gary Rogers encouraged the board to place restrictions on development that would include creating a buffer zone around the property. They also pointed to safety concerns with traffic increases over the years at the intersection of 501 and Cluster Springs Road.

“Have a plan ahead of rezoning that includes a buffer to support the schools and area residences that will not degrade the existing community, said Hudson.

“I’m not against them developing this property, but make it fit the community,” said Rogers.

Speaking on behalf of the owners, Jerry Lovelace explained the request was “a rezoning application for an area with commercial opportunities.

The original application for a use permit to allow the billboard was withdrawn, but ED-4 supervisor Ronnie Duffey noted the rezoning request, if granted, would “allow business which could include a variety of stores or a billboard.”

By rezoning the property, the board would give up any control on how the land was developed, Duffey said.

“This is way to circumvent the Board’s previous decision,” said William Bryant Claiborne.

“It is speculative rezoning that doesn’t protect the interest of the community,” said Board Vice Chair Garland Ricketts.

Jeff Francisco, who was in favor of the billboard and a previous request for a solar farm near the site, said the rezoning application should be approved: “It is a commercial area with known growth over the years.”

On a roll call vote, Brandon and Francisco voted in favor of the rezoning, but all other members voted in opposition.

In other business, supervisors approved the 195-foot cell tower to be installed near the intersection of River Road and Ashton Hall Road. Verizon Wireless received the Conditional Use Permit for a 195 foot monopole wireless tower. The tower is expected reach a three mile radius and serve as a connection between other Verizon towers.

Also, supervisors approved the distribution of CARES Act funding for coping with the pandemic by authorizing the expenditure of $4,300,660 in federal funds. Money is allotted for purchases of PPE ($150,000), Laptops/ Surface tablets ($36,000), MB Touchless upgrades for temperature reading ($350,000) and Temperature machines ($25,650), county fire and rescue units ($1,000,000), foggers ($1,000), janitorial services ($76,180), courts cleaning ($28,130), unemployment claims ($25,000), broadband towers ($750,000), refuse costs ($97,500), DSS utility funding ($100,000), tourism ($200,000), broadband towers ($1,228,000), drop off boxes ($3,200), and eSummons ($150,000).

» The board appointed Joan Bowers and Patricia Thomas to the Southside Behavior Health Board and Dean Throckmorton to the Tri County Community Action Board.

» A Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Marine Corps to utilize the Halifax County Fairgrounds for military training purposes was approved.



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Comments

Don’t build it and they won’t come; would be a great motto for Halifax County. This is the most regressive area I’ve ever been around. They will build a 100 million dollar taxpayer funded school but fight any and all business that try to build the tax base of this poverty stricken area.

Comments

@ Regressive, if there was a real business prospect don't you think the Chamber of Commerce or the County IDA would have been involved?! THIS was the exact same property that was exposed for an illegal rezoning for the sole purpose of the placing a billboard. There was no primary business type identified here and it was simply done to try to circumvent the rules. The Dollar General site nearby was allowed with a Conditional Use Permit and not rezoned. That process allows the County BOS to mandate architectural standards, buffering, lighting standards, and better manage commercial growth. I applaud the BOS for seeing through the smoke and mirror tactics of the presentation by the owners and their representative Mr. Lovelace.


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