The Clarke County Planning Commission has again extended an on-going public hearing for a 22-lot subdivision proposed by the Salvation Army just west of the current Clarke County High School. The Salvation Army now has until December 2nd to submit all of the required paperwork or face a one-year delay before re-establishing the subdivision application process.
“The Salvation Army’s original subdivision application commenced in 2004” Clarke County Planning Administrator Jesse Russell told the Planning Commission members on Friday. “Since March, 2011 the applicant’s storm water management plan has been approved and the road plan has been approved.”
Russell said that three other requirements are still outstanding; a statement from the Salvation Army that the private access road serving the property cannot be connected to the public access road, a karst plan and a consumer disclosure statement.
Attorney John Farrell of the Leesburg law firm of McCandlish & Lillard representing the Salvation Army addressed the outstanding issues on Friday.
Farrell said that it had taken longer than he had hoped to contract with an engineering firm but that the Salvation Army is now ready to move ahead with the karst plan.
“When you are dealing with a national organization contract approvals don’t always come back as quickly as you would like” Farrell said. “We’ve selected Patton Harris Rust & Associates (PHR+A) to do the karst plan.”
Farrell also said that the Salvation Army will submit the required consumer disclosure statement on or before October17th.
The apparent hesitation of the Salvation Army to provide a consumer disclosure statement, at least until now, has been a source of speculation about who may have an interest in the subdivision development in addition to the Salvation Army.
After its discussion with Farrell, the Planning Commission resolved to take final action on the Salvation Army subdivision application at its December 2, 2011 meeting,” based upon what the applicant has filed in support of the application at that time.”
The Planning Commissioner said that no extension beyond December 2 will be granted.
The karst plan and a Consumer Disclosure Statement in accordance with Section 6 of the County’s Subdivision Ordinance are both required before October 17th.
Other Land Use Business
The Planning Commissioners approved a land use change that will allow monopole antenna towers up to 80 feet in height. The new zoning ordinance is intended to allow individuals to improve access to wireless internet services in areas where trees obscure line-of-site radio signals.
During a public comment period on the measure, Richard Lewis, who runs a county-based consulting company, said that he has experienced the frustration of dial-up and satellite based internet services and said that modern businesses depend on internet consistency and speed to operate.
“From the outside, my business looks like a horse farm in a reconditioned barn” Lewis told the commissioners. “I think that I represent the kind of business that you want in Clarke County and I urge you to support high speed wireless internet service.”
Planning Commissioner Richard Thuss (Buckmarsh) said that he has personally frustrated after having spent $6,000 on internet systems and services but none have worked. He said that the new rules may possibly provide enough antennae height for him to gain a clear line-of-site to a wireless internet signal.
“Internet service is a requirement today” Thuss said. “We need good internet service in this county and I strongly support this amendment”
However, Planning Commissioner Scott Krueger said that he disagreed with the zoning change citing concerns over potentially unsightly towers.
“I think that looking at a tower diminishes the value of a neighbor’s property” Krueger said. “Why should someone have to give up a scenic view shed just so that someone else can have good cellphone service?”
“I think that these towers actually preserve our landscape rather than diminish it” replied Planning Commissioner Tom McFillen (Berryville). “People who buy a farm or piece of property here are going to have to have the ability to communicate with the outside world.”
After discussion, the Planning Commission modified the proposed ordinance to automatically expire after 60 months, a cautionary change suggested by Planning Commissioner Chip Steinmetz (Berryville) based on the rapid technological changes in wireless technologies, and adopted Planning Commissioner Pete Dunning’s (White Post) suggestion that towers unused for a period of two years must be taken down.
The monopole measure was unanimously forwarded to the Clarke County Board of Supervisors for approval.
Powhatan School Land Gift
Powhatan School’s current site, located near Boyce, Virginia, was donated in 1957 by Isabelle Carter Crocker, daughter of the last resident of the Clarke County property known as “Powhatan”. Now, an additional 46 acres – known as the “Crocker property” – has also been donated to the school.
The donated land is located between the school and the Millwood Country Club.
“This is an extremely beneficial and very gracious gift” said Planning Commissioner Tom McFillen.