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Halifax County planners back change to allow Planned Use projects / April 05, 2021

The Halifax County Planning Commission is recommending that Planned Use Districts (PUDs) be written into the county zoning code to pave the way for a residential-commercial development to go up in the vicinity of Virginia International Raceway in Alton.

At their meeting Tuesday night, planners held three public hearings, one to consider adoption of PUDs. Planners also agreed following the other hearings to recommend that A-1 agricultural zones be amended to allow for manufactured housing without a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and land use limits on solar energy projects be eased.

The planners’ recommendations now are headed to the Halifax Count Board of Supervisors for final approval.

Planned Unit Development [PUD] districts, which currently are not allowed under county code, entail mixed-use residential and commercial spaces which include privately owned infrastructure such water and sewer, parking lots and other features. One such project, by a North Carolina developer, is in planning stages in Alton near VIR. The landowner would like to build hotels, housing, and a shopping center with a Food Lion store, said county planner Detrick Easley.

“It’s common to see these types of development on the way into Richmond, where the stores are in front along the road with housing located behind the shopping center,” said planning board member Mattie Cowan.

“This would help VIR and keep more people spending in Halifax County instead of going to Danville,” said John Beard.

PUD setback and minimum lot requirements are already covered in county ordinances.

Commission chairman Jim Davis asked, “Are there any disadvantages to having a PUD?”

“Only infrastructure. To accommodate sprinkler systems, there has to be a sufficient supply of water which may require digging a lot of wells,” said Easley.

With regards to changes in the A-1 zoning ordinance, manufactured homes will be allowed in agriculture areas without requiring a conditional use permit. A second dwelling may be built on a parcel of land if the new home is owned by an immediate family member

Easley said the proposed changes would serve to clean up problems with the existing code.

On the topic of large solar arrays, planners agreed to amend the code to allow projects to be built on larger tracts of land — up to 2,500 acres spread out over a five-mile radius, as opposed to the current limit of a two-mile radius. The ordinance will require vegetation buffer within the boundary of the project area.

The code should further be amended to solar companies to pay proffers to the county to offset property tax exemptions that they may receive. Proffers, as monetary donations, could be targeted for needs such as public safety, EMS, or schools.

The Board of Supervisors will hear these recommendations from the Planning Commission at their regular monthly meeting on Monday, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mary Bethune Complex meeting room.

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