Zoning hearing set for Tuesday

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By Staff Reports

INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday on all of the proposed changes to the county’s zoning ordinance.
Commission members will gather citizen comments on the draft ordinance before presenting it to the Grayson County Board of Supervisors. The board will vote on whether to adopt the revised ordinance at its May 8 meeting.

Tuesday’s hearing is at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Grayson County Courthouse.
The commission has met for several months to revise the ordinance, a task assigned by the supervisors after initially voting to repeal the ordinance in January. In February, the supervisors decided instead to have the commission make the law more “user-friendly.”
The planning commission held a meeting April 8 to make final adjustments to the draft ordinance and discuss Shoreline Recreation Zone districts, junkyards and junk automobiles.
Commission members decided that an “auto graveyard” will be defined as a exposed lot with more than five unlicensed or inoperable vehicles of any kind. That could include both motor vehicles and trailers, but agricultural vehicles would be exempt.
The ordinance would not limit “junk” vehicles stored inside a garage, barn or other structure.
Businesses, such as vehicle dealers or repair/service operations, would be exempt, and commercial auto graveyards would be allowed by permit in industrial, commercial and rural farm districts.
There would be another exemption for properties that had more than five junk vehicles before the zoning ordinance was adopted in 1998.
The county no longer allows the creation of shoreline recreation lots, but the commission is working on zoning revisions to regulate those that already exist.
The narrow lots along the New River were allowed from the 1970s until 2012, when they were taken out of the subdivision ordinance.
The revisions are aimed at making sure the river lots conform to requirements of building in the floodplain.
The shoreline districts can be used for agriculture, camping, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.
Only one non-residential building and one deck or porch is allowed per lot. Flood waters must be able to pass through these structures.
The commission plans to further revise the shoreline recreation districts and the county’s floodplain ordinance at a later time.
Other notable changes to the ordinance have included:
• redefining horses as companion animals instead of livestock.
• banning the creation of new billboards. Existing billboards in the county can remain.
• requiring homeowners to dispose of an old mobile home within six months after it is replaced with a new one, or to convert it to an accessory building within 30 days with approval of the building inspector.
• waiving a $1,000 zoning permit fee for cell towers, which is intended to encourage development of advanced communication infrastructure, broadband, wireless internet and cell phone coverage, particularly on the western end of the county. This was in accordance with Strategy 2 in the Grayson County Comprehensive Plan, completed and adopted last year.
• revising the law to say that home occupations in areas zoned as Rural Farm could employ up to 10 people.
• addressing setbacks in all zoning districts to fit new standards.
• addressing setbacks for high-intensity farming facilities (defined as a feeder-type of operation or a place where animals are contained for 45 days or more per year) from neighbor’s property lines. This was added as a way to prevent high-intensity agricultural uses from having to pursue a special use permit in Rural Farm and be allowed by right.