Old Town Madison Heights

Main Street in Old Town Madison Heights, seen here in January 2017.

Restaurants larger than 2,500 square feet now are allowed as a special exception use in the Old Town Madison Heights area in Amherst County’s zoning ordinance.

The Amherst County Board of Supervisors voted at its Aug. 20 meeting to add restaurants as a special exception use in the Residential Mixed Use (RMU-1) district. The only area the county has such zoning is in Old Town Madison Heights, said Jeremy Bryant, director of community development.

The Old Town community currently has no restaurants, Bryant said. They are allowed by right in the district unless they exceed 2,500 square feet, at which point the special exception review process would be triggered. The county’s planning commission and supervisors would review such requests.

Prior the change, restaurants larger than 2,500 square feet were not allowed.

“We’re opening the ordinance up so people can apply for it,” Bryant said of the change.

Bryant said the county has had some inquiries about restaurants in the Old Town area and wants to be proactive in allowing for it should an opportunity present itself. No one spoke for or against the zoning change during a public hearing.

Service authority board change discussed Supervisor Claudia Tucker said she would like the board to consider discussing a potential change to expand the Amherst County Service Authority governing board from five members to seven members. Supervisors already have explored the idea of adding two new citizen members to the service authority board, which currently consists of all five county supervisors, to bring private sector expertise.

Draft amendments to the authority’s charter and articles of incorporation for possible action at a later date propose adding the new citizen members in January 2020 and in 2022. Under that scenario three supervisors and no more than two citizen members would make up the authority board.

Tucker said she would like the supervisors to consider adding a member each from the Amherst County Planning Commission and Amherst County Economic Development Authority to the service authority board and paying them a stipend.

Supervisor David Pugh said he feels Tucker’s request, which came earlier that day, is drastic and massive and he wants proper time to review it. Tucker said she wasn’t seeking immediate action last week.

“This is simply a conversation starter,” Tucker said.

Supervisors are expected to discuss the matter at a Sept. 3 meeting.

The authority originally was formed in 1936 to provide water and wastewater utility services in and around Old Town Madison Heights and significantly expanded. In March 1987 the board of supervisors established the authority, previously known as the Madison Heights Sanitary District, as a separate entity from the county with its own governing board.

Supervisors have served as authority members since 1953.

Litter, overgrown weeds rules updated The board also approved amendments to its ordinances for overgrown weeds and litter prevention and control. County Attorney Michael Lockaby said as the county is in the process of shifting from open top waste containers available at all hours to staffed centers with certain hours, cases are anticipated where people wanting to unload piles of trash will dump them somewhere when the open tops no longer are available.

The amended ordinances allows the county more “teeth” in enforcing what it has on the books, he said. One ordinance deals with folks who willingly allow their front yards to turn into hay fields with overgrown grass and who knowingly allow their garbage and debris to pile up, he said, while the other pertains to those who litter on public property or non-consenting landowners’ land.

The maximum violation in the littering ordinance for cases prosecuted in court is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which could bring a $2,500 fine and up to 12 months of jail time. The ordinance also allows for ordering community service, which Pugh said he favors.

“I’d rather see people pick things up. They committed the crime of throwing the trash out, they ought to have to go out there and clean it up,” Pugh said. “Maybe they’ll think twice about doing it again.”

In other news:

  • The board voted unanimously to approve a special exception request from Roderick J. Schmidt Jr. to allow a short-term tourist rental of a dwelling at 604 North Fork Road in northwestern Amherst County. Schmidt will rent the residence out when he is out of town, according to the county. The 2-acre parcel is zoned agricultural residential, the only district in which short-term rentals are allowed. No one spoke on the request during a public hearing.
  • Supervisors appointed Madison Heights resident Andrew Proctor to a vacant seat representing District 1 on the Amherst County Economic Development Authority. Proctor, who works for McKesson, a medical supply company, grew up the county and moved back in July 2016, according to his application letter.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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