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Recently, forty-four Sea Serpent swim team members from the YMCA of South Boston/Halifax County traveled to the Salem YMCA to participate in the PYSA Swimming Championships against 10 other YMCA…
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South Boston zoning overhaul goes nowhere, for now
SoVaNow.com / December 12, 2013
South Boston Town Council on Monday night delayed approval of the proposed new zoning ordinance amendments after 16 citizens addressed Council and Town Planners, who were meeting in joint session to receive public comment on the issue.
The Planners unanimously recommended approval of the proposed districts, but on a 3-2 vote Council declined to take action on the amendments.
Council members Tina Younger, Bill Snead and Coleman Speece all voted against the proposed districts while Bob Hughes, who is also a member of the town’s Planning Commission, and Margaret Coleman voted in favor.
The issue is expected to come back before Council at its January meeting.
Snead, who said the Monday night vote was the toughest he has had to make since being on Council, commented, “One thing I’ve learned is to never vote for something I’m not completely clear about. I spent a great deal of time Tuesday (after the Monday meeting) reviewing the issues, and I will continue to review those issues until the next Council meeting.”
Snead said he had no problems with the newly created Dan River District, but most of his concerns lay with changes along the Seymour Drive and Wall Street areas which are being proposed as a B-2 district rather than the current M-1 industrial area.
Speece, another negative vote, said he had questions about the proposed districts which have not yet been answered.
“I was not ready to make a decision Monday night,” he said, “after having been contacted by a number of people who also had questions.”
Younger said she felt that citizens needed a better explanation about how any changes might affect them. “I just felt that we needed to give citizens more information about the details of the changes and give them the opportunity to see how they might be affected.”
She said that after people received the letters that were sent out by the Town explaining the new districts she had received calls from several people who were hesitant about the proposed changes.
Addressing Council were Wall Street property owners Garland Ricketts and Avis Sutherland along with Seymour Drive business owner David Myers and property owner Morgan Miller. They indicated they felt the change from M-1 industrial to B-2 residential would be more restrictive and consequently hurt the value of their properties.
While they realized their current businesses would be grandfathered in, they had concerns about possible expansions or future renters or ownership changes.
Objecting to the new Dan River District were Riverdale business owners Bunny Propst and Mac Ragan, along with property owner Ward Burton. Burton said he owns six acres of land where he has several options in mind for its use. Noting that Riverdale property owners already have to adhere to very strict regulations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), he, Propst and Ragan all said the area does not need any more restrictions placed on it.
Destination Downtown Vice President Gene Haugh and Director Tamyra Vest spoke in favor of the new districts as did Dr. Wayne Adams.
Vest pointed out that passage of the ordinance is an essential part of South Boston’s having a vibrant downtown business district offering historic storefronts, small shops and a pleasant streetscape.
Planning Commission Chairman George Leonard explained that his group has been working on the proposed ordinance in meetings as far back as May and June. He said he had received no response to the changes until Monday night’s meeting.
Leonard assured citizens that his commission is trying to bring the zoning ordinance in line with the zoning map and agreement with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.
“The last thing we want to do is hurt a business. If you bring a major project before the Planning Commission, we’ll do anything we can to help you with it.”
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