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Orange Planning Commission resists subdivision amendment proposed by supervisors.
BY DAN McFARLAND
The Orange County Planning Commission wants more safeguards in place before repealing restrictions in the county's subdivision ordinance.
After a public hearing Thursday on a Board of Supervisors-proposed repeal of Section 54-27 of the ordinance, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that no section of the rules be removed until something appropriate is recommended in its place.
The ordinance amendment, initiated by the supervisors at their April 24 meeting, would remove the concept of one by-right division every four years of county land zoned for agriculture.
Sparse, largely one-sided attendance at the public hearing may have been the result of a conflicting parade in downtown Orange, but several speakers suggested that repeated proposals by the supervisors may be causing resident apathy on the subject, rather than sparking helpful discussion.
Seven of eight speakers urged commissioners to recommend against the repeal, characterizing the proposal as "a land speculator's dream."
Steve Satterfield of Rapidan warned that the action would effectively "negate agricultural zoning."
Noting that this was the third recent proposal by the supervisors on the same subject, he said," The other two propositions were seriously flawed. This one is far worse."
Steve Yelton of Barboursville was the single speaker in favor of the proposed change. He attacked the notion that "residential development costs every taxpayer in the county because of increased infrastructure costs."
"Opponents of development," he said, "continue this as a mantra without providing any evidence that their statements contain an ounce of truth."
He explained his view that residential development, in addition to increasing tax revenue on improved properties, would also foster commercial development and increased sales tax and personal property tax revenues for the county.
"If the county can't provide the needed infrastructure with these added tax revenues," he said, "adjoining counties certainly will and Orange County will continue to become a backwater."
Following the public comment period, Planning Commission Chairman Nigel Goodwin commented that the proposed resolution "seems to run counter to the county comprehensive plan as it currently exists."
After several attempts, the commissioners reached agreement on their final recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
The two groups plan to hold a joint meeting June 21.