June hearing set for Whitehurst annexation

MOUNT JACKSON — The town of Mount Jackson will hear public comments on June 1 for the possible annexation of roughly 577 acres of land owned by Robert Whitehurst.

The hearing was at Thursday night’s regular planning commission meeting.

Town Manager Kevin Fauber noted after the meeting that the hearing is “the next step in the process” for a proposed 712-acre “mega site” that has been in discussion since February.

Annexation of this property would open the possibility for the town to rezone it from agriculture to light industrial, matching what was approved for the initial 135 acres on April 13.

Also at the meeting, there was a second annexation request made by residents Jason and Melanie Payne for their 1-acre property, which is surrounded by the Whitehurst property on three sides.

Regarding the request Fauber said, “In essence, that is the reason that they are requesting annexation at this time.

“If and when utility services are brought out this way, he wants an opportunity to connect on.”

Jason Payne’s mother, Lorene Payne, a resident of Warrenton, was on hand to represent the family for the formal annexation request.

Lorene Payne, who noted that she was a zoning administrator for 33 years, said during the meeting, “If the [Whitehurst] property is annexed, they would then be within arm’s reach of utilities … but would have to pay county prices in order to connect.”

Fauber noted following the meeting that the difference in the connection fee between a county and town property could be as much as $5,000 “depending on the line size.”

Lorene Payne said, “They have no interest in converting to industrial, they just want the ability to have services from the town when they get in that area.”

Although the property lies right next to the Whitehurst “mega site,” Fauber indicated that the Payne’s request would “have no bearing” on passage of Whitehurst’s annexation.

At the same time, Fauber said, “If this annexation doesn’t go through, then this small piece with the Paynes won’t go through, either.”

A public hearing on the Payne annexation was also set for the June 1 planning commission meeting.

The commission also discussed the possibility of holding two additional work sessions with a consultant in order to review and understand the town’s limited industrial ordinances.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Bonnie Good said, “I think we need to start taking a very careful look at this … so that we have our ordinances suitable to our expectations for what we want in a limited industrial district.”

Commission discussed the possibility to either having one or two separate work sessions.

Commissioner Mark Bowyer said, “I would love to have some council education about this before another public hearing. There were so many loose ends.”

Ultimately, commission set two tentative time frames for the work sessions both before after the June 1 public hearings. The first work session is set for the last week in May.

Fauber said, “We’re not saying there needs to be any changes, but if there are, now’s the time to start reviewing those.”

One possibility for the town could be consultant Milton Herd, of Leesburg-based Herd Planning.

“He’s worked with the town in the past on developing … the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances,” Fauber said. “We’ll have to see about his availability.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com