IW planning commission OKs transport business

Published 10:40 am Friday, March 31, 2017

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission voted 9-0 with one absent during its Tuesday meeting to recommend approval of the application of Windsor District residents Preston and Valerie Artis for a conditional use permit to continue operating their home-based non-emergency medical transport business. The panel also voted 9-0 to recommend approval of the request of William Edwards of Southern Casting LLC for a conditional use permit to construct a concrete and asphalt factory in the Carrsville District.

Public hearings were held prior to the commission’s vote on both topics. No one spoke for or against either topic during the times.

The approval of the Artis’ permit marks the latest development in the couple’s months-long effort to bring their transport business into compliance with county regulations governing home occupations. They had initially approached the Planning Commission in December 2016 to request rezoning of their property, located on Muddy Cross Drive, which the commission recommended denying at the time on the grounds that rezoning would not have addressed all of the ways in which the business was out of compliance with county laws.

The main concerns the planning commission had initially raised regarding noncompliance with county laws centered on the eight commercial vehicles the Artises had been keeping on their property and the seven employee drivers who come to the property each day to pick up their vehicles. The county code specifies that home-based businesses must not generate traffic inconsistent with other dwellings in the area and that only one person who is not a permanent resident of the dwelling may be engaged or employed in the home occupation..

In February 2017, the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors amended the county code governing home occupations to allow any home occupation that exceeds the county’s requirements to apply for a conditional use permit. The Artis’ request, now a conditional use permit rather than rezoning, will once again go before the Board of Supervisors during their April meeting.

Edwards’ proposed factory would be located at 33211 Lees Mill Road on a currently-vacant 6.99-acre parcel zoned general industrial. The lot is adjacent to Carrsville Highway (U.S. Route 58) and across the street from the Airway shopping center and the Franklin airport. Also nearby is Camptown Park and the International Paper mill. The facility, if approved, would include a factory, an office and a retail space.

“I’ve been in the concrete business all my life, got into the asphalt business about 10 years ago,” Edwards said prior to the opening of the public hearing. “Not only can we improve local roads and community sidewalks, it can benefit everybody. The good thing is the revenue for the county. I also bought two parcels in Southampton County for a backup plan… I’m spending a lot of money, over a million dollars, to build this project and if I can’t build it here, I’ll do it across the road [in Southampton County], but I’d like to do it here and share the money with you.”

He added that he expects to employ more than 65 employees once the factory is built and operational. Edwards’ application will, like the Artis’, be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for review during their April meeting.

The commission also held a third public hearing concerning the proposed re-enactment of Isle of Wight County Code Appendix B, Zoning Article V Section 5000.G, which provides an exemption for fences or walls existing prior to the adoption of the County’s zoning ordinance concerning properties designated as national historic landmarks located in a designated historic overlay district. The debate over the ordinance stems from a request the county received in February to change the county’s height and location requirements for fences in historic areas in order to accommodate an 8-foot fence to replace an existing 6-foot fence at St. Luke’s Church. No one spoke for or against the change during the public hearing and the commission recommended approval unanimously.

During citizens’ time, Jane March of Zuni asked the commissioners to look into creating trails for horseback riding in the county. The commission also passed a resolution of appreciation for Ollie S. King III, who served as the commission’s Newport District representative from March 2013 through February 2017.

The next Planning Commission meeting will be on Tuesday, April 25, at 6 p.m., in the board room of the Isle of Wight County Courthouse Complex.