Sat12102016

Last updateFri, 09 Dec 2016 7pm

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Architectural standards, mixed-use zoning to be explored in King George

The King George County Planning Commission will be tasked to explore and report back on the potential adoption of architectural standards for new commercial buildings.

The commission is also being asked to take a look at the county’s zoning ordinance and see if it recommends any amendments to encourage more mixed use activity for buildings in the Courthouse area or other selected sections of King George.

King George County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Ruby Brabo placed the items on the Aug. 2 meeting agenda for discussion by the board.

Architectural standards for commercial buildings was the first listed.

“I’m looking for consensus to send to the Planning Commission the task of looking at our community and potentially setting some development standards for future commercial buildings to help ensure our community doesn’t just look like any other place in America,” Brabo said.

“I look at our Courthouse area, I look at the new Sheriff’s building, a look at the fire station and the new expansion at the library and I think, wouldn’t it be great, if, for example, any future commercial development in this area also had that same brick façade and fit in and kept that sort of feeling,” Brabo said.

She said she wanted the Planning Commission to suggest standards for pockets of the county, or possibly for the whole county.

Brabo said she learned from a workshop last year that when national or regional franchise businesses decide to build in a certain locality, they often have three sets of plans available.

She called them A, B and C plans, saying A is the cheap plan.

“And if they can get it through because you don’t have any standards, then you get the A plan,” Brabo said.

“When you drive to those other localities that have the really nice looking buildings and community, and you wonder, ‘Why doesn’t my McDonalds look that?’ or ‘Why doesn’t my Walmart look like that?’ The answer is that was the C plan, and that county had a standard.”

Supervisor John Jenkins said it was worth looking into.

Supervisor Richard Granger agreed.

“I like the look and feel of those kinds of counties as well,” Granger said.

“I think it’s a good idea to reach out to the Planning Commission and have them look into it and bring it back to us.”

The second task being sent to the Planning Commission is to examine the county’s zoning ordinance to see if they can recommend any amendments to encourage mixed uses in the Courthouse area.

Brabo said she wasn’t aware the county had any mixed use zoning.

“If somebody wanted to build a walkable area with shops, cafes, markets, and condos on top, we currently allow that?” Brabo said.

Jack Green, director of Community Development said the county allowed mixed use zoning but it wasn’t called that.

Brabo said the county’s Economic Development Authority will be looking at revitalizing the Courthouse area in that manner through a new program.

“It would be very beneficial if the Courthouse district were to allow a mixed-use zoning component, where you could have shops with residences above, and a walkable area here,” Brabo said.

Green said those uses are allowed under two types of existing zoning.

Commercial zoning allows for residential use as a secondary or ancillary use.

“They can have commercial use on the first floor and residence on the second floor or within it. We have some of those uses now in the Courthouse area,” Green said.

He also said Residential-3 zoning allows for a mixture of commercial, residential, and office space.

“You just haven’t had anyone coming in to make those applications,” Green said.

Green also said the county’s Comprehensive Plan recommends creating a village district for the courthouse area and for the Dahlgren area.

“And you could draft different zoning for the two areas,” Green said.

“Traditionally, localities rezone properties at the request. But you could also amend your commercial zoning ordinance to allow more types of residential uses.”

Phyllis Cook

King George to consider beekeeping in residentially-zoned districts

The King George Board of Supervisors voted to forward a case to the Planning Commission for consideration of an amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow the keeping of honeybees on residentially-zoned property. The action took place on Aug. 2.

The proposed ordinance would allow beekeeping in zoning districts zoned Residential-1 or Residential-2 which have lot sizes of at least 15,000 square feet.

For those districts, they are considering two hives could be allowed, with up to three hives on lots with 20,000 square feet and four hives on lots 25,000 square feet in the larger lots zoned R-1 and R-2.

Residential R-3 multifamily zoning is not included for consideration for beekeeping.

The owner, operator or tenant must obtain a permit from the zoning administrator, along with other conditions.

Conditions include no hives located closer than 10 feet from any property line or sidewalk and not permitted in any front yard.

A constant supply of fresh water must be provided on the lot within 20 feet of all hives.

Any hive within 25 feet of a property line, must have a flyway barrier as a shield from a neighbor’s property, consisting of dense vegetation, a wall or solid fence at least 6 feet high.

Senior environmental planner Heather Hall provided a thorough staff report, but Supervisor Jim Howard was not enthusiastic about allowing beekeeping on the residential lots due to their close proximity to neighbors.

Chairwoman Ruby Brabo reminded him this would start the process with two public hearings, and also talked about bee hives in residential zoning where she lives in Chatham Village subdivision zoned R-1.

“I wouldn’t have a concern. I already have neighbors who have hives and they’ve been told to get rid of them, and that’s why they want this. And we’ve not had any issues,” Brabo said.

Supervisor John Jenkins asked if other localities have similar ordinances and if they are successful.

Hall said various other localities were polled, with no issues regarding near neighbors with allergies or bees bothering animals.

She said localities reported complaints when beekeepers were found to not be complying with the permit conditions, as noted.  

Jack Green, director of Community Development also commented.

“Another thing, they would have the flyway barrier to encourage the bees to fly up if the hives are located close to the property line,” Green said.

The staff report further addressed the issue by providing honey bee facts, including the following.  

Bees are generally not aggressive and are generally compatible with residential uses.

Honeybees fly in a radius of about 2 to 5 miles from their homes to forage for flowers and food.

And, it’s recognized that natural bees make their hives wherever they want without regard to zoning.

The Planning Commission has already studied the topic during four meetings earlier this year after receiving direction to provide a report after supervisors heard from a county resident in March requesting beekeeping be allowed in residential zoning.

Now the actual legal process will begin with an advertised public hearing to be scheduled at an upcoming meeting of the Planning Commission.

Director Jack Green said the hearing will be 7 p.m. Sept. 13 in the ground floor board room of the Revercomb Administration building, located behind the King George Courthouse on Route 3.

After the Planning Commission finishes its deliberations, it will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to approve or disapprove, or could make recommendations for changes.

Next, supervisors will hold another public hearing, discuss it again, make any changes, then take a vote to adopt or not adopt.

Those interested in more information about local beekeeping, may go online to Gateway Beekeepers Association:  http://www.gatewaybeekeepers.org/

The association meets monthly, 7 p.m. on the third Thursdays of the month at the American Legion Post 89 on Dahlgren Road at Indiantown Road (Routes 206 & 610). Contact information is available on the website to find out about attending a meeting as a guest.

Phyllis Cook

Bus routes for 2016-17 school year

Click here to see the bus routes for King George County Elementary School.

Click here to see the bus routes for King George County Middle School.

Click here to see the bus routes for King George County High School.

Click here to see the bus routes for Potomac Elementary School.

Click here to see the bus routes for Sealston Elementary School.

Crab fest fundraiser hosted by King George Builders' Association

A crowd of King George residents turned out for Saturday's crab fest fundraiser hosted by the King George Builders' Association.   

The popular event was held at the King George Family YMCA.

Richard Leggitt

Save money on Virginia sales tax holidays coming up Aug. 5-7

Gov. Terry McAuliffe reminds people about Virginia’s sales tax holiday from Aug. 5 to 7 to purchase qualifying school supplies, clothing and footwear, emergency preparedness items and certain energy-efficient products without paying state and local sales tax.

With school starting earlier this year in King George, on Aug. 15, the sales tax holiday comes just in time to prepare for purchasing school supplies, clothing items and new footwear along with numerous other items.

Those who are not sure this sales tax holiday is for them are encouraged to peruse the long lists of eligible items online at the Virginia Department of Taxation website.

Examples include a wide range of items from household and shop aprons, baby clothes and bathing suits to wedding apparel and veils and lots of items in between.

There are numerous items exempt from sales tax even for those with no children in school.

Many eligible items are used in home offices or by artists and musicians which have a selling price of $20 or less per item.

Go to:  http://www.tax.virginia.gov/content/sales-tax-holiday.

“The sales tax holiday will make items that help families prepare for the school year or for a potential emergency more affordable,” McAuliffe said in a news release. “It is my hope that shoppers will use this time to get their children the items they need to succeed in school, as well as stock up on the essentials that may come in handy during a hurricane or other emergency where electricity or clean water may be unavailable for an extended period of time.”

This is good news for parents and students who have not completed back-to-school shopping. Legislation enacted by last year by the state combined Virginia’s three sales tax holidays into one three-day holiday.
Consumers can purchase qualifyingschool supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star and WaterSense products without paying Virginia sales tax.

All inclusive lists for all three categories of items can be accessed online:  http://www.tax.virginia.gov/content/sales-tax-holiday.

Tax exempt items include:

Most school and office supplies, such as pens, loose-leaf paper, scissors, binders, backpacks, and construction paper, priced at $20 or less.

Clothing and footwear, priced at $100 or less per item or pair.

Batteries, flashlights, bottled water, tarps, duct tape, fire extinguishers, cell-phone chargers, smoke detectors, buckets, rope, and first aid kits, priced at $60 or less.

Gas-powered chainsaws, priced at $350 or less, and chainsaw accessories, priced at $60 or less.

Portable generators, priced at $1,000 or less.

Energy Star-labeled dishwashers, washing machines, air conditioners, ceiling fans, light bulbs, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators, priced at $2,500 or less.

WaterSense-labeled sink faucets, faucet accessories, aerators, shower heads, toilets, urinals, and landscape irrigation controllers, priced at $2,500 or less.

All lists of tax exempt items are online at the Virginia Department of Taxation website.

Go to:  http://www.tax.virginia.gov/content/sales-tax-holiday.

Phyllis Cook

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