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Building rezoning awaits approval

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Council to decide if former middle school can be converted into office space

By M.K. Luther - mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- An amended rezoning of the county's former middle school building on 15th Street will be forwarded to the Town Council for approval.

The town Planning Commission has recommended approval of the rezoning, with conditions and a zoning code text amendment that will provide for the continued use of the building's existing athletic facilities.

The panel recommended approval of a "three-part" rezoning following a Dec. 15 public hearing, according to Bruce Drummond, director of planning and zoning.

County officials and the School Board had originally applied for a rezoning to use the building as professional offices. Warren County's government plans to use portions of the building for the county Social Services and Health Department offices. Other parts of the building would be used for the school system's maintenance and technology departments.

The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department also plans to use the building's existing athletic facilities. The use of the athletic fields, as well the school maintenance department's use of the woodworking shop, would not have been allowed in a R-3 zone.
The property needs to be rezoned from R-1 to R-3 to allow for the professional office use.

A code text amendment allowing for a special-use permit for recreational facilities in an R-3 zone and a specific special-use permit for the 15th Street facility must also be approved, Drummond said.

The county and the School Board had asked for a code text amendment to allow for by-right use for government offices and recreational facilities in an R-3 zone. The amendment could also provide for the school's use of the shop facilities, which could be defined as accessory office use for the maintenance department.

The county and School Board had also agreed to exclude certain uses usually allowed in a R-3 zone, such as mobile homes and apartment buildings.

The school building's athletic fields and track currently remain open for public use, Drummond said, and are used by the community and many youth athletic leagues.
"We just want to bring everyone into compliance," Drummond said.

A list of the hours and types of use for the athletic fields was submitted to define the special use of the athletic facilities, Drummond said.

Drummond said the rezoning now will go to a Town Council work session on Jan. 3, with a public hearing tentatively scheduled on Jan. 24.

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