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Home businesses addressed in Halifax code update

SoVaNow.com / October 10, 2019
Halifax Town Council has a proposal in hand to allow home occupation businesses in residential zones, a response to a recent controversy involving a home-based apparel seller who was denied a town permit for her business.

The proposed update of the town’s zoning ordinance was presented to members of Town Council at a Tuesday night work session. Explaining the change, Council member Michael Trent said, “We took information directly from the South Boston ordinance.” Trent and Gail Bosiger worked together to draft the new ordinance.

Trent said the update sets several specific requirements for home businesses in residential zones — the enterprise must not infringe on the character and purpose of the residential community. The appearance of the home and traffic patterns must be consistent with the neighborhood.

The home cannot be a retail operation, open to the general public, but customers may be invited on an appointment-only basis. The public should “not be just coming off the street,” said Trent.

Before any action is taken, Trent offered the zoning update ahead of time for consideration by council members. On Oct. 23, Halifax Town Council will hold a special meeting and joint public hearing with the town’s planning commission to receive citizens’ comments. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

Dwayne Meadows, an independent contractor who lives at 1030 Mountain Road Halifax since 2017, spoke to council members in support of the ordinance.

“As a person who lives on Mountain Road, a lawyer with a couple of employees is better than log trucks screaming down the road,” Meadows said. He asked Council members to be as liberal as possible in drafting the ordinance, while protecting the aesthetics of Halifax neighborhoods.

The issue came to the fore with a permit application by Eric Shaughnessy to sell LuLaRoe apparel from her home at 615 Mountain Road. Shaughnessy’s request was denied by Council earlier this year after members raised concerns about allowing commerce in the R-1 zone where her home is located.

Since that time, town residents and some members of Council have argued that the Town should tailor its ordinance to accommodate e-commerce trends. Meadows expressed the hope that Council will focus on making the Town of Halifax more inviting for the younger population as potential residents.

In other business, Council unanimously endorsed a resolution to support the “Yes To Halifax County Schools” sales tax referendum. Trent made the motion for Town Council to go on record in support of the 1-cent sales tax initiative, which will raise revenue to pay for the modernization of Halifax County High School.

Making the second to the motion was Councilman Jack Dunavant. Before voting “yes,” Dunavant voiced his concerns about discipline and maintenance at the high school, then he sided with the rest of Council.

Another issue raised at the work session was maintenance of the Banister River dam in town. Dunavant presented information on an aging dam in Lynchburg that forced residents in more than a hundred homes to be evacuated. “Who owns the dam and can we work with them?” asked Council member Bill Confroy.

Confroy raised questions about the potential for a dam collapse, and whether the owner would be responsible for making repairs rather than walking away with an insurance settlement. Town Manager Carl Espy offered to follow up with Council members after researching the matter with the dam’s owners, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Department of Environmental Quality.



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Yet another misleading bit of information being spoken by a public official. NOTHING in the 1-cent sales tax referendum is directly tied to "raise revenue to pay for the modernization of Halifax County High School." Wake up taxpayers, if and when the school is built this tax will not be removed. It is for capital improvements to schools (plural). Community leaders are misinforming the general public and playing a political game to influence voters to raise taxes on themselves. Mr. Dunnavant is the only one speaking out on what we all know is the real issue - lack of proper upkeep and maintenance.


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