Planners recommend rezoning to allow Walnut Manor to use pre-2002 subdivision plans

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The Botetourt Planning Commission recommended approving three land use-related requests when it met Monday evening in Fincastle.

Among them was a request from Sherman Foutz with D&S Developers LLC that, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, will allow him to use his existing plans to begin the next phase of Walnut Manor subdivision just outside of the Town of Fincastle.

Foutz also needed a variance from the Botetourt Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that met Tuesday morning in order to proceed with the plans he had when he originally got approval for the subdivision in 2001.

Changes to the county zoning ordinance in 2002, and a sunset provision for subdivision plats— in this instance phases two and three— that had not been recorded are keeping Foutz from proceeding with his original plans.

When the subdivision was first approved, the zoning ordinance allowed lots as small as 1 acre in Agriculture A-1 zoned districts when public water or public sewer was available.

Foutz had a water system that he eventually gave to the county and is now owned and operated by the Western Virginia Water Authority.

Under the current zoning ordinance, residential lots in A-1 Districts must be a minimum of 2.25 acres.

The 2002 zoning ordinance update created a new Rural Residential (RR) District, which allows lots that range from a minimum of 1 acre with public water and public sewer to a minimum of 1.5 acres with no public water or sewer.

Since the Foutz property has public water, the RR District allows lots that are a minimum of 1.25 acre, so he’s asking to rezone 65 acres to RR for the 44 lots.

However, Foutz would like to use his existing plans for the next phases of Walnut Manor, but those 2001 plans has 25 lots that range from 1 acre to 1.2 acre and don’t meet the minimum 1.25-acre lot size.

Several people had questions during a public hearing on the request, and the Planning Commission members were satisfied that Foutz’s original plans were adequate and the development would have proceeded as originally approved if not for the downturn in the economy 10 years ago.

Planning Commission Chair Steve Kidd said he didn’t believe the county would be setting a precedent by approving the rezoning since he didn’t believe there are other circumstances like this one.

The commissioners did note that Foutz may have to comply with new state stormwater management regulations, and that could change the final subdivision plans.

The BZA also gave conditional approval to the variance for the lot sizes.

SEP for Blue Ridge Park cell tower

The Planning Commission also recommended that Blue Ridge Towers be granted a special exceptions permit (SEP) and Commission Permit to erect a 195-foot cell tower on a 3,600-square-foot area at the county-owned Blue Ridge Park off Webster Road in Blue Ridge.

Blue Ridge Towers owner Anthony Smith told the planners American Electric Power (AEP) is no longer renewing leases for cell antennas on its high voltage (750Kv) power line towers so an existing Shentel antenna on the mountain that divides Botetourt and Bedford Counties in that area will have to be relocated.

That will take two cell towers— one in Bedford and one in Botetourt— to provide coverage for that section of the US 460 corridor and surrounding area.

Smith said he expects other cellular companies to also locate on the new tower, if it is approved by the Board of Supervisors.

The area where the proposed tower would be located is on a knoll beyond the tennis courts in the 22-acre Blue Ridge Park.

One nearby property owner wrote a letter opposing the location and another wrote a letter supporting the tower for better coverage.

Smith said the new tower will be able to provide 4G and 5G coverage in that area— “both sorely needed in the county,” he said.

 

Family subdivision

The commission also recommended dropping the five-year requirement before a family-subdivided piece of property can be divided again.

Scott E. West requested an “Exception” the county zoning ordinance to permit a family subdivision and exclude, in this instance only, the requirement prohibiting further subdivision of a family subdivision lot on property he owns at 6860 Botetourt Road north of Fincastle.

When the property was subdivided into two lots as a family subdivision in 2014, West gave one lot to one of his sons. He now wants to split the remaining lot he owns for his other son.

Planner Drew Pearson told the commission members he’s satisfied this subdivision does not try to circumvent the county ordinance that has fewer restrictions on family subdivisions than a regular subdivision.

All three requests go before the Board of Supervisors when it meets July 25 at 6 p.m. at Greenfield Education and Training Center.

— Ed McCoy