Isle of Wight Planning Commission votes down medical transport home business

Published 10:20 am Friday, December 30, 2016

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission voted 6-2 to recommend denying Preston and Valerie Artis’ application to rezone their Windsor District property to legally operate a medical transport business out of their home. The vote was taken following a public hearing during the commission’s regular scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.

Brian Carroll of the Carrsville District and James Ford of the Hardy District were the two dissenting votes.

According to Don G. Rosie, another representative of the Carrsville District, many citizens and commissioners were in favor of having such a business operating out of the Windsor area, but the application was ultimately denied due to the Artis’ current use of the property already being out of compliance with their home occupation permit and county ordinances.

According to the background information listed in the commission’s agenda for the evening, the property was initially developed as a single-family residence in 2006, and later, the original owners added a detached garage and a stable and fenced area for horses.

When the Artis’ purchased the home, they converted the stable into an office with a bathroom, and moved eight commercial vehicles onto the lot.

Each day, employees come to the house to pick up the vehicles and perform medical transportation services, and then return the vehicles to the site at the end of each day.

One of the planning commission’s concerns with the application was that the Artis’ are technically already in violation of two county ordinances, one of which states that “the type and volume of traffic generated by a home occupation shall be consistent with the traffic generation characteristics of other dwellings in the area.” The other states “one person who is not a permanent resident of the dwelling may be engaged or employed in the home occupation.”

“In a home business, you can only have one person [who does not live on-site] that’s working there,” Rosie said. “If you have more than that, and they would have had seven, it’s automatically out of compliance. It was a hard decision because we really want to see this in our area.”

A second concern raised dealt with how the presence of the business is affecting traffic in the neighborhood, which the planning commission’s data currently estimates is generating at least three times more traffic than a normal single-family residence in the neighborhood would normally receive.

Rosie added that the few votes in favor of the application were essentially “sympathy votes,” and that the planning commission did not have the ability to set a new precedent for the county or change the law.

“They’re really voting against the ordinance; I understand a sympathetic vote, but you can’t break the law,” he said.

The county’s planning and zoning staff have recommended that the Artis’ store the vehicles off-site or have their employees keep the vehicles at their homes as a potential solution to complying with the county’s traffic ordinance.

A second public hearing was scheduled that evening to consider the request of Bryan and Amanda Boyes for exemption from the County’s Chesapeake bay Preservation Area Ordinance to build an addition to their Carrollton home, which the commission voted unanimously to approve following mostly positive comments from citizens.

The commission’s recommendations on both hearing topics will be presented to the Isle of Wight County supervisors at their next regular scheduled meeting, at which point the board will have the final say on each application.

The commission concluded by changing its bylaws to require all planning commission members who have not yet completed their training as commissioners to do so, and then going into closed session.