Board of Supervisors denies rezoning request

The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a rezoning application for the site of a proposed Dollar General on Strasburg Road.

The rezoning application for 1453 Strasburg Road, owned by Vicky Jimenez, was submitted by JMB Investment Company, of Knoxville, Tennessee, for a property zoned for agricultural use. JMB applied to have the parcel of land rezoned as commercial, so as to lease the land to Dollar General for a 9,100-square-foot store.

Before the public hearing preceding the vote, Robert Light, a Front Royal attorney representing JMB, said the location is not a “destination site” for consumers, and JMB has considered town staff suggestions as well as Virginia Department of Transportation regulations regarding sight distance from the store’s proposed entrance. He also said the land could support the store through private water and sewer plans.

Light also said the board should consider the country store ordinances regarding stores in agriculture zoned areas. While the store would be too big to be considered a country store, Light said the store still served the same function of selling groceries and goods to area residents.

He asked the board to extend the public commenting period and hold the vote until the next meeting so his client, on behalf of Dollar General, could present a power point slide show to the board at the next meeting.

Fifteen speakers from the Strasburg Road area, Linden and Middletown spoke against the rezoning application during the public hearing Tuesday evening.

Among the speakers were Mo and Lisa Salazar, owners of Henry’s Store, located up the road from the proposed Dollar General site.

Lisa Salazar said putting a Dollar General along the road would not increase county revenue, and would not create more jobs if it puts her store and the Seven Express out of business due to lower prices. She also presented an amended petition against the rezoning application, with 773 signatures.

Mo Salazar said the Dollar General would violate the county’s comprehensive plan by undercutting 10 local vendors, who are supported by Henry’s Store, as well as violate the plan’s mission to preserve the beauty of Warren County.

Other residents cited their concerns about increased traffic on Strasburg Road, especially tractor trailers, aesthetic concerns and the business’s ability to put out fires with the well water on site. Herb Dunkle, of Linden, said he was concerned about the safety of children at a nearby elementary school along what he said was an already dangerous road.

After consulting with Blair Mitchell, the county attorney, the board decided against extending the public comment period on the basis that JMB had adequate time to prepare its presentation.

Before the board’s roll call vote, Supervisors Archie Fox, Richard Traczyk and Daniel Murray discussed their reasons for denying the rezoning application.

Murray said he believed there are too many safety concerns and residential concerns, as well as inadequate water to put out a fire on the property.

Fox said he did believe the rezoning application fit in with the comprehensive plan, but approval would promote strip development along the road, and there are not enough adequate utilities in the area.

Traczyk said the decision to deny the request is not a choice of Henry’s over Dollar General, but out of concern for continuity for the comprehensive plan, traffic concerns and a support of residents’ concerns.

After the vote, Light declined to comment. Lisa Salazar said she could “sleep easy tonight.”

Other business the before the supervisors included:

• The board voted to accept the county’s audit for the fiscal year 2014, conducted by Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates. Matthew McLearen, an accountant with the firm, said Warren County is financially sound.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com