County reverses

After going into a closed executive session to discuss impending legal action, the Lincoln County Commission voted Tuesday to rescind action it took in July and approve developer Keith Bigham’s request that 16.61 acres at the corner of Limestone Road and Wells Lee Road be rezoned.

With that, the property in question was rezoned from A-1 (agriculture, forestry, rural residential) to A-2 (suburban residential), essentially allowing a residential subdivision of greater density to be built on the property. A-1 requires a minimum lot size of one acre, while A-2 requires a minimum lot size of 30,000 square feet or approximately three-quarters of an acre.

Twenty of the commission’s 24 members were present, and the motion to rescind previous action was approved unanimously, while the motion to approve the rezoning was approved 17-2. Voting opposed were Commissioners Glen Douglas and Steve Spray – Douglas cited traffic and inadequate water as reasons for his opposing vote, while Spray cited the lack of fire protection.

County Attorney Ed Simms called for an executive session at the start of Tuesday’s meeting – executive sessions, which are closed to the public including the media, are only allowed for discussion of either the threat of legal action or ongoing litigation.

“We received a letter from his [Bigham’s] attorney back in September, asking for this request,” said Simms as discussion picked up on the matter after the regular session resumed. “As you recall, this had the approval of the planning commission and it had staff approval. There was a public hearing on June 18, and as I understand it, there was no comment at the public hearing.”

During a subsequent public hearing in July, three residents had spoken in opposition to the request. Letters were also received opposing the change, and two residents spoke during that hearing, with one of those being clearly opposed on the basis of how the change might negatively impact property values.


Property maintenance

Commissioner Ricky Bryant addressed the commission’s August vote to reconsider a property maintenance amendment that had been voted down a month earlier. Ultimately, in that August session, the amendment, which limits litter and inoperable vehicles, gained approval in a 16-7 vote with 23 commissioners present.

Saying that while the motion to reconsider was properly made by a commissioner on the prevailing side with the previous vote, Bryant explained that after the meeting, he reviewed parliamentary procedure – “It also must be done in the same meeting or a meeting that is not interrupted by an intervening day,” he said, “which means that we could have a meeting on Monday and if that meeting went through Friday, we could vote on it all week ... but we couldn’t take off Saturday and Sunday, and do it again on Monday.

“So, I would take the position that the motion to reconsider does not exist, because it was improperly made,” he said.

“We’ll take that under advisement,” said County Mayor Bill Newman, adding that if he made a mistake in procedure, he would accept it.

The matter is expected to be revisited during the November session of the County Commission.


Pool, spa code

Bryant went on to put the commission on notice that he intends to try to rescind the commission’s approved September motion which resulted in the adoption of the 2018 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.

The comprehensive code regulates the minimum requirements for the design, construction, alteration, and repair and maintenance of new residential and public pools and spas, including aboveground pools, even waterparks, and factory built portable hot tubs. It also provides guidelines on how to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) requirements for suction entrapment avoidance and layers of protection inhibiting unintended entry and drowning prevention.

Recommended for adoption by the Lincoln County Planning Commission, the code was approved in a September vote of 13-6, with five commissioners absent. The code is set to become effective Nov. 1.


Other business

Commissioners okayed four other proposals in related business, all after public hearings were held with no comments, including an amendment allowing for tiny homes in areas of the county zoned A-1.

ü An amendment relating to additional structures was also approved. With it, a special exception clause was removed from the zoning resolution – previously, two sections of the resolution contradicted each other. One section stated that if property is zoned A-1, where you have at least 15 acres of greenbelt area, you are allowed up to three dwellings, while another stated that would be allowed by special exception from the county’s Board of Zoning and Appeals.

ü A conflict in sections of the resolution concerning the minimum setback of accessory structures, such as sheds, carports or detached garages, was also resolved. One section stated that the setback from the back and side property lines for those structures must be at least five feet, while another section stated 15 feet. With the action, a standard setback of five feet was approved.

ü And a request to rezone 1.7 acres owned by Raybon Hunter on McAlister Lane from A-1 to A-2 was also approved.