Owners seek to down-zone properties

A rezoning request would allow two Warren County homeowners to keep horses on their properties.

Matthew and Amy Filling have asked that the county rezone property they own at 521 Paddock Lane, in the Aspen Hill Farms subdivision, from residential to agricultural use. William and Rebecca Barvick have made the same request for property at 523 Paddock Lane. Both properties total approximately 10 acres in the Skyview section of the neighborhood. They lie adjacent to properties zoned for agricultural and residential use.

The Planning Commission scheduled a public hearing on the request for May 13, Planning Director Taryn Logan said Friday.

“So this is just to rezone from residential to agricultural in order to do some uses that are allowed by right in the agricultural district, which is really, for them would be more agricultural pursuits such as the raising of livestock, horses,” Logan said.

The department plans to notify adjacent property owners of the rezoning requests.

In a March 12 letter to county officials, the Fillings note that much of the subdivision was rezoned to agricultural use in 2008.

“We are requested the change to be consistent with most of the properties in the Aspen Hill Farms Subdivision,” the letter states. “Additionally, being zoned agricultural would enable us to have horses for personal use.”

The Fillings note that they attended college for equestrian studies and have experience in the field. The owners add that they own the equipment to maintain and manage a pasture.

The Barvicks echoed the Filling’s reasons in their statement of justification for the rezoning.

“Among other advantages, we feel the change will allow our family to become more self-sustaining, help us maintain our property in a more environmentally sound way and encourage our children to become involved in local 4-H and other agricultural clubs,” the Barvick’s letter states.

The Planning and Zoning Department worked with 10 of the original 13 property owners of the section in 2008 to rezone the lots from residential to agricultural. Sometimes this process is referred to as “down-zoning.” The entire subdivision had been zoned for residential use when zoning came into effect in 1973. The three remaining, residentially zoned properties were subsequently bought after the rezoning.

Most of the lots in the subdivision are 5 acres or larger, Logan said.

The county’s agricultural district is intended for areas where low-density residential developments might exist without degrading the environment, according to department information. The district also allows for open spaces used as parks, playgrounds, game preserves and similar uses.

The county’s Future Land Use map in the Comprehensive Plan still identifies the area as zoned residential. However, the plan also states as a goal to direct development in such a way as to preserve the county’s predominantly rural character.

The department has worked with property owners in the subdivision over the years regarding various uses not allowed in the residential zoning district but allowed in the agricultural district. Department staff recognized that the properties in the request are larger lots than normally seen in a residential district.

The Barvicks and the Fillings have compiled a list of uses they would agree not to pursue on the properties that range from commercial riding stables, kennels or raising livestock other than horses, cattle or sheep, among many others. As Logan explained, all the property owners in 2008 who sought the rezoning agreed on the same limitations for the use of their land.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com