Zoning revisions continue in Grayson

-A A +A

With repeal on hold for now, Grayson Planning Commission works to fix zoning ordinance.

By Patrick Smith

INDEPENDENCE ― The Grayson County Planning Commission has taken on the tall task of revising the county’s zoning ordinance by a May deadline, with members examining and making revisions to several articles of the ordinance at five meetings thus far and several special called meetings since February.

After originally voting to repeal the ordinance in January, the Grayson County Board of Supervisors put that on hold and instead charged the commission in February with revising the ordinance to make it more “user-friendly.”

The difficulty of this task on a short timeline has not been lost on commission members, and even seemingly simpler parts of the ordinance, like the legal placement of signs and billboards, have provoked lengthy discussions.

A new Agriculture Zone district was discussed and later defeated because there already exists a favorable climate for agricultural uses in the Rural Farm district in the zoning code.

The new draft also proposes a substantial addition of allowed uses to the Rural Farm district, with the goal of greater leniency to business uses that can reasonably occur next to residential uses without adding nuisance or disturbance to a community.

Some of the most notable changes to the ordinance have included:

• 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 zone 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.

A special meeting to discuss Article 5 of the Grayson County zoning ordinance has been set for April 8 at 6 p.m. The meeting will also serve as a time to tie up loose ends on the subjects of allowed uses and zone districts, and to discuss the steps ahead in regard to Shoreline Recreation Zone districts and junkyards and junk automobiles.

A public hearing on all of the proposed changes has also been set for April 15 at 6:30 p.m., before the commission presents the draft to the board of supervisors in May.

Both events will be held in the boardroom at the Grayson County Courthouse in Independence.