The Rappahannock County Planning Commission reorganized last week, unanimously electing Piedmont district’s Gary Settle as its chair, replacing the retiring Charley Strittmatter, and Stonewall-Hawthorne representative Gary Light as its vice chair.
It then voted to reorganize several dozen pages of zoning code amendments, primarily (as Zoning Administrator John McCarthy said) to bring the county’s zoning ordinances in line with state laws that have changed since the code was enacted.
Changes to the county’ floodplain ordinance are similarly meant to bring it in line — in this case, with federal flood-insurance regulations. If the county didn’t make the adjustments, McCarthy said, those whose properties are in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 100-year floodplains — primarily low-lying areas along the Thornton River in western Sperryville, and in several hollows that back up to the park.
The commissioners approved both the floodplain and zoning amendment measures unanimously; after its own public hearing, the board of supervisors is expected to approve the amendments at its regular monthly meeting next Monday (Feb. 2).
Also at that supervisors’ meeting, McCarthy said, he’ll also be introducing Debbie Keyser, the new assistant county administrator, whom McCarthy has said would be getting most involved in zoning and planning efforts this year, including the county’s five-year comprehensive plan review and revision, which would be likely completed by this coming fall.
McCarthy also presented the commissioners with what he said was the first of what would be a continuing “deeper dive” into the realities of the county’s Highway Commercial zone — a zone, primarily found in Sperryville from U.S. 522 to the park, that recently came under scrutiny when People Inc., the community action organization, submitted a plan to build low- to middle-income apartments at the now-vacant site of the Sperryville Emporium.
The plan was dropped when it became clear that multi-family housing was not actually permitted in the Highway Commercial zone, but McCarthy and others also found issues of water supply and connections to the existing Sperryville waste-treatment plant might also impact future development.
“My goal is to get you a couple of pieces of information every month so you can pull together exactly how the areas, and the properties here, might have changed over the last 20 years,” McCarthy said.