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Planned Use Development in Alton are aims for hotel, homes, grocery

SoVaNow.com / February 15, 2021


Halifax County should update its zoning code to allow for Planned Use Developments, Halifax County supervisors were advised Wednesday, in light of developer interest in a PUD in the Alton area that would include a hotel, single family housing, a grocery store and other commercial and residential amenities.

Plans for the Reflective Gateways Community Co-Op, as the project would be known, were outlined at a board retreat Wednesday by Planning and Zoning Administrator Detrick Easley.

“We have to allow commercial growth in our county,” said Easley, referring to PUDs, which are not currently incorporated in the county’s zoning guidelines.

In his presentation to supervisors, Easley also said the Planning Commission has received an updated rezoning request by Donnie and Ruth Green to develop a 38-acre tract off Cluster Springs Road at the intersection with Huell Matthews Highway (US 501-S). Donnie Green has expressed that he plans to use the site for some type of dollar store, Easley said.

On three occasions in recent months, the Planning Commission has recommended the approval of three land use applications by the Greens, only to see the Board of Supervisors decline to approve their requests each time. The Planning Commission can only offer recommendations; the authority to approve land use requests rests solely with the Board of Supervisors.

“Mr. Green is willing to wait until the March Planning Commission meeting,” said Easley of when the issue will come up again. Previous requests to develop the site for a billboard and for an unspecified business have drawn opposition from neighbors.

The daylong retreat, an opportunity for supervisors to establish priorities and plan for the future, marked the first public discussion of the Alton area PUD project, which would be closely associated with Virginia International Raceway. VIR made a separate presentation during the retreat concerning its own plans to build a new hotel and villas at the road racing course.

PUDs allow for large-scale, mixed-use residential and commercial developments without the restrictions imposed by standard zoning requirements. Developers are required to work with county officials to develop criteria for common areas, private residences and facilities, and community infrastructure. Homeowners are typically required to join an association and pay fees to maintain and operate amenities such as parks, swimming pools and workout facilities.

Reflective Gateways Community Co-Op would be built on a 150-acre parcel located at 1064 Henry Brandon Road Extension in Alton. The area is about 15 minutes from VIR with an entrance connecting at the North Carolina state line. The landowner, listed as Art In Life Foundation and BEC, LLC, intends for the property to include a mix of single family housing, a hotel, a Food Lion grocery store, a convenience center, and additional lots for property investors.

“This is a great opportunity for growth in our area,” said Easley.

In Cluster Springs, the Greens’ plans for their 37.69 acre tract have come up three times before with the Planning Commission. On the first occasion, the Greens sought a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to erect a billboard at the site. In subsequent requests, the Greens have sought the rezoning of all or parts of the tract from A-1 agricultural to B-2 business, specifying they no longer plan for a billboard to be built at the site. The last time the matter came before the Board of Supervisors, in January, supervisors tabled the request.

The Greens intend to come back with a new request for B2 zoning at the Cluster Springs tract, which lies within the zone identified for business development in the county’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan. Easley suggested that board members consider conditional zoning for the Greens, through which the county can impose safeguards and restrictions.

Examples can include mandates for fencing, planting or other landscaping; additional setbacks from property lines; requirements for the location and arrangement of lighting, including limits on size and height; the setting of reasonable time limitations for business operations; and other reasonable requirements as deemed necessary to safeguard the interests of the general public.

“The board cannot dictate what goes there, but can make restrictions,” said Easley.

No action was taken at the retreat.



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Comments

Language enabling PUDs would be a step in the right direction for Halifax County, however allowing the rezoning for the Greens is simply going to backdoor in a Billboard IF the Board of Supervisors does not restrict them from that use. Note the leading quote from the County Planner "The board cannot dictate what goes there, but can make restrictions,” said Easley. In other words, if the Board doesn't specifically restrict Billboards as a use in the conditional rezoning then a VDOT permit can be filed and the County would not be able to stop it. Take note Planners and BOS members be leery of this third attempt at rezoning and do not buy into the smoke & mirror tactics.

Comments

Also a little history lesson from you past actions, remember Board and Planning Commissioners, when Dollar General applied for a Rezoning they were first denied, then filed for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) which was approved, that gives the County and it's staff the most control. Simply put another dollar type store should be permitted with a CUP. There has been a precedent set in the County at various locations for issuing a CUP instead of Rezoning, which opens up the entire list of uses in that zoning district. (Which includes outdoor advertising signs. Please vote NO to Billboards!!)


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