Supervisor says change leaves citizens unprotected

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Proposed changes to the subdivision ordinance won’t provide necessary protections to Carroll County citizens’ life, health and safety, said a lone holdout county supervisor during a Feb. 10 meeting.
Josh Hendrick, the Laurel Fork representative on the board of supervisors, voted against setting a public hearing on a new version of the subdivision ordinance due to what he saw as its flaws.

The supervisors have been encouraging the planning commission for months to make changes to the county regulations that control residential development in Carroll.
Planning official Ronald Newman brought the proposed changes to the regular February meeting.
The new proposal featured a number of changes, but Hendrick’s objections focused on an idea to create a “Class C” residential subdivision with a limit of five lots and streets with a 25 foot width, to be maintained by the developer or homeowners’ association.
“Looks to me like Class C is going to create as many problems as it’s going to solve looking at it from a designer aspect,” said Hendrick, the former assistant residency administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation.
A total of a 25 feet is not enough to maintain a road, ditches and shoulders, he said. That will make for future problems.
The intent for the Class C subdivisions is to make it a private drive to serve just a few lots, said Supervisors’ Chairman David Hutchins.
This arose after problems were found with recreational subdivisions where second home owners “wanted places that [were] absolutely cut off and private,” but county officials wanted to move those developments away from the mountain ridges, officials discussed.
Roads in recreational subdivisions became controversial several years ago when emergency services found that they had a hard time getting fire trucks and ambulances over the narrow and winding access roads.
Hutchins indicated at the February meeting that he wanted the new subdivision ordinance to address problems caused by certain properties being inaccessible from roads. He anticipated changes would allow people with large lots to take a portion and sell them to people other than family members.
Hutchins suggested that the proposal needed to be tweaked by the planning commission to include something called “flag lots,” along with the Class C subdivision.
County Attorney Jim Cornwell wondered if there was an advantage of changing the Class C road requirements.
“It’s pretty low already,” Supervisor Sam Dickson said.
“If the concern is getting a fire truck in there, no,” Hendrick said.
A 20-foot-wide road is too small, he added. “Twenty foot’s not enough room to put a driveway in and maintain it.”
The subdivision ordinance requires a 30-foot right-of-way into a cemetery, Hendrick pointed out as an example.
Many people are landlocked today and don’t have 30 feet to make an access with, Hutchins said. This prevents them from selling off five acres from their tract, because of inadequate access.
Will county officials make exceptions to the development rules any time a person can’t develop their land the way they want to, Hendrick asked, using the example of a developer who wants to make 11 lots, but falls short on road frontage on the last one.
Hutchins suggested that supervisors send their thoughts about the proposal to Newman.
Dickson made a motion to set a public hearing on the new subdivision ordinance at the March 10 county board meeting.
The motion got several “yes” votes before Hendrick’s turn. He voted “no.”
“You don’t want it [the public hearing] on that day?” Hutchins reacted. “When do you want it?”
“I don’t want a public hearing,” Hendrick answered. “To me, this is not a subdivision ordinance that I think that’s going to be protecting the safety, welfare and all that of county citizens. So, to me, there’s no use to proceed with the public hearing.
“Now if you want me to ratify a date, I’m available on March 10th,” Hendrick said.
The public hearing motion was approved 5-1. The joint public hearing between the board of supervisors and planning commission will be held in the board meeting room on the second floor of the governmental complex at 5:30 p.m. on March 10. The proposed revisions are available for review in the office
of Land Use and Planning on the first floor of the Carroll County Governmental Complex in Hillsville.

Proposed changes to subdivision ordinance:

• Section 4 – add aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew to definition of immediate family members, add Class C subdivision to the definition of subdivision, and remove the gate requirement of the Class B subdivision and defining what the Class B roadway may serve.

• Section 14 – define that the Class C subdivision may be reviewed by the county’s subdivision agent.

• Section 27 – define served by state maintained road, change plat note language for non-VDOT roads, and add language concerning Class C road requirements.

• Section 29 – define served by public water and public sewer.

• Section 34 – add requirement for compliance with stormwater management laws.

• Section 42 – add exemption for conservation easements, and agricultural and forestal district, and add exemption for existing cemeteries.

Click the link below to download a copy of the subdivision ordinance: