Zoning ordinances in need of overhaul

Published 4:28 pm Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Planning Commission is asking county officials to rework and completely update the comprehensive plan, as well as the subdivision ordinance and zoning ordinances.

James Tharpe Jr., chairman of the county’s planning commission, said the updates are needed to protect the county and adjoining landowners, as well as follow state law.

“We feel this needs to be done as quickly as possible,” he recently told supervisors.

Thape noted the comprehensive plan is over 10 years old and lacks changes that have been made through the years; that the county is “sorely lacking” in its a subdivision ordinance and it needs to be rewritten “as soon as possible,” and the county needs to “fine-tune” its zoning regulations.

As it stands, the county could be open to lawsuits for not being in compliance with its own regulations, officials said at the meeting.

Thape made his request to the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors during its Thursday, April 14, meeting at Central High School.

Subsequently, the board met with the Farmville-based Commonwealth Regional Council planning agency after lunch and asked the organization to help with the efforts.

Mary Hickman, the council’s executive director, said they are “more than welcome to begin the dialogue on that.”

The council — known as the as the CRC — is one of 21 regional planning agencies across the state, and services the counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Lunenburg, and Prince Edward. The CRC’s website notes that it considers itself an arm of its member jurisdictions, providing providing both expertise and cost savings and they provide a variety of technical and program services that includes grant application assistance, management for programs, transportation planning, as well as development and update of comprehensive plans.

Hickman said as part of the undertaking the CRC would have to sit down with local leaders, look at what the county has now and at the code to see what needs to be addressed. Citizen involvement would be a crucial part of the process, and the towns would be included, too, she said.

Hickman noted that the CRC would also have to meet with local leaders to determine the timeframe for the effort.

Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover asked that Tharpe play a crucial part in the effort, noting that he “has got his finger on the pulse.”

Meanwhile, Beverley Hawthorne, Lunenburg’s economic development director, said this time the county is going to have to make hard decisions and take hard stances – including drawing maps instead of simply using descriptions.

“We’re going to need to be specific with where we think the growth is going to take place,” she said.