Council denies rezoning request on Holland Drive

Published 10:17 am Friday, June 7, 2024

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The Windsor Town Council voted unanimously on May 14 to deny a request to rezone 13 Holland Drive, which is located in a predominantly residential area in town. The rezoning would have allowed for automobile sales and repairs at that address.

James “Jay” Randolph

The council entered its May 14 meeting with a memorandum from Windsor Planning & Zoning Administrator James “Jay” Randolph.

In the memo, Randolph noted that the application coming before the council was to rezone approximately 0.17 acres of Tax Parcel 54B-01-126, also identified as 13 Holland Drive in Windsor, from R1, Residential, to C-B2, Conditional Restricted Business.

“The purpose of the application is for automobile sales and repairs, as conditioned,” Randolph stated.

He noted that the application involves only a portion of the parcel identified as Map 54B-01-126A.

“The remainder of the parcel would retain its R1, Residential, zoning classification,” he stated. “The intent would be to utilize the existing detached garage and a small area of the rear yard for business purposes.”

Randolph explained that along with the application, the applicant had offered several proffers, which the Virginia Municipal League notes are voluntary proposals by a property rezoning applicant that are intended to mitigate the impacts of the development they propose to undertake.

The proffers in this case include limiting the uses available in the B2, Restrict Business, zoning district, building and site improvements, and other community proffers, Randolph stated.

“Because proffers have been offered, this is considered a conditional zoning application,” he stated.

In a planning and zoning report pertaining to the rezoning application, Randolph offered staff conclusions on the matter.

He noted that a strength of the application is that the “development of a business may provide positive economic impacts to the town through increased employment, local purchasing of materials and supplies, and additional revenues associated with obtainment of a proper business license.”

Then Randolph shared what staff concluded as weaknesses of the application.

“The application is inconsistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan,” he stated. “The Comprehensive Plan denotes this property and other properties along Holland Drive as ‘Residential.’ Because the Comprehensive Plan’s standards are wide ranging but explicit, it should be the principal guide to the Planning Commission’s discussions and actions concerning land use management and development, particularly zoning amendments. The commission, however, should also look beyond the plan and consider whether the application advances the best interests of public health, safety and general welfare.”

Randolph noted that use of a portion of 13 Holland Drive for automobile sales and repairs may create additional traffic related to customer visits, vendors and test drives by prospective customers.

He also stated that environmental hazards and safety concerns may be increased.

“A precedent may be set by allowing automobile sales and repairs in a predominantly residential area,” he stated. “Additional applications for these uses by other similarly zoned properties may need to be considered.”

In his memo to the Town Council, Randolph shared details from the public hearing on the rezoning application held by the Windsor Planning Commission at its March 27 meeting. He noted that the applicant spoke at this public hearing to support the application, and several of the property owners from Holland Drive spoke and raised concerns about the application.

“The Planning Commission discussed the application and subsequently adopted a motion of 6-0 to recommend denial of the application to the Town Council,” Randolph stated.

The Town Council held a public hearing on the application at its May 14 meeting. During the hearing, three members of the public spoke, including Cindy Sanders, who spoke on behalf of herself and another.

Sanders also read a letter by Kim Johnston, who could not attend the hearing.

All the public speakers at the Town Council’s public hearing were either expressing concerns about or opposition to the rezoning.

As read by Sanders, Johnston’s letter noted that the Holland Drive neighborhood is a quiet and safe place that features people of all ages, including children who ride their bikes up and down the street throughout the day.

If the rezoning request were approved and the proposed business began operating on the street, Johnson wrote, “Between the machines, vehicles, wreckers and tools, the neighborhood will no longer be a quiet place to enjoy. 

“There are special ways that fluids, etc. have to be disposed of,” Johnston continued. “With a mechanical shop on the street, you take a chance of those fluids getting into the ground and environment. There’s already been oil spills on the road. 

Walter Bernacki

“Please think of your citizens that live on Holland Drive and deny this petition for rezoning,” Johnston wrote. “Thank you for your consideration and understanding.”

Following the public hearing, Councilman Walter Bernacki made a motion that the council accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the application. He noted that Windsor has a Comprehensive Plan for its forward vision.

“Obviously, with Mr. Randolph’s letter, it mentions in here (the rezoning of 13 Holland Drive is) inconsistent with that,” Bernacki said. “That’s not part of one of the areas that we have blocked off or said that it is for business. And that is my reasoning for my motion.”

Councilman Edward “Gibbie” Dowdy seconded the motion, and it passed by a 6-0 vote moments later.