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Planning Commission reviews Article 7

 

Discussions concerning changes to Article 7 of the Building and Zoning Code sparked questions regarding the validity of the conditional use permit for The Potomac Renaissance Condos  which are located at 100 Taylor St.

The subject came up at the September Colonial Beach Planning Commission meeting after Gary Mitchell, Director of Building and Zoning, presented changes to Article 7, Resort Commercial (RC) District, of the zoning ordinances. Mitchell requested the planning commission discuss the changes and approve advertising for a public hearing. 

The Resort Commercial District is the section of land that is just inside of Boundry St. to Colonial Ave. and Washington Ave. to the Potomac River.

Article 7 defines permitted uses, accessory uses and conditional use permits for land within the RC district. 

Under business use requiring a conditional use permit, meaning one must acquire special permission from the council to operate, proposed changes include four items added; condominiums, restaurants with drive in facilities, tourist homes and vacation cottage complexes. 

When Commissioner David Coombes asked Mitchell why he added condominiums to structures allowed under a conditional use permit in the RC district, a heated debate began among the commissioners concerning the existing condos and allowing future construction of condos within the RC district. 

Mitchell replied to Coombes’s question, “Because you have a condominium under a CUP and I don’t know how it got there.” Mitchell then asked the two commissioners who were former council members, David Coombes and Moureen Holt, how they got a condominium permitted when currently there’s no condominiums allowed under permitted uses or under permitted uses with a conditional use permit. 

Coombes replied, “Ask the former administration!”

Both Coombes and Holt began telling the commission that when they were on counsel they believe the Potomac Renaissance Condominiums where permitted only for the purpose of getting a new ladder truck for the fire department. 

Construction on the condos began in 2006 by Value Craft Homes and was completed in February 2007.

At the time of construction a deal was struck with the developers that with each sale the Colonial Beach Fire Department would receive funds to help pay for Engine #1, a new ladder truck purchased because the CBVFD did not have a ladder tall enough to reach the top of the five story building in case of fire or emergency. 

Coombes told commissioners,  “Moureen and I were both on council and we had major discussions about that and the bottom line was no more condominiums. That was the consensus of the counsel that I sat on. I don’t know about the present counsel.”

Coombes added, “They were going to put money to the Fire Department and Rescue squad as they sold the condos but none of that came to pass,” Coombes added that there was another condo approved but it has not been built. 

Newest commission member Robin Schick suggested leaving condominiums in, adding that, “People will have to come to us.”

Chairman Holt explained, “The thing is, if it’s left in there then they have more reason to say, you have it listed now what’s the problem.” 

Schick felt that the need to file a conditional use permit would still leave the commission with control. 

Holt reiterated her point saying, “If it is left in we have more reason to have to justify why they can’t build it.” 

Commissioner Kent Rodeheaver reminded the commission that this area is called Resort-Commercial and pointed out that in previous talks the planning commission decided to eliminate many things that were residential housing. 

The commission finally agreed to postpone advertisement for article 7 and continue discussing the matter until it could be resolved. 

Other changes proposed in Article 7

Permitted uses are given to businesses that may be established without special permission from the town council prior to opening. 

Changes to the article under permitted uses removes accessory structures and creates a section solely dedicated to defining accepted accessory uses. It also strikes public utilities from being a permitted use within the RC district. 

Added to permitted uses are; boardwalk vendors, business service establishments, church or house of worship, financial service establishment, personal service establishment, public park/playground, farmers market and special events (requiring a special permit form town manager). 

Flea markets are currently allowed in the zoning ordinances but staff is requesting it be changed to indoor flea markets only. 

Flea markets held on Town Hill, the area just between Riverboat and the Beach Inn, from Washington to the boardwalk, will be covered under special event permits. we

Permitted accessory uses are now defined as accessory structures, antenna, automatic teller machine, parking lot, walk-in freezer, commercial generator, fences in rear and side yards only and storage of operable vehicles such as motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, trailers and marine vehicle provided they are parked in the side and rear yards.

Proposed changes to set-back, height and other restrictions on buildings and accessory structures have removed text restrictions and put the new and existing conditions in table form. Maximum and minimum restriction are better defined and flood proofing requires buildings to be 3 feet above base flood elevations. 

 

Linda Farneth

 

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