Focus group hones mega site plans

MOUNT JACKSON – The Mount Jackson focus group working on the town’s comprehensive plan continued to revise its proposal to the planning commission this week, changing which businesses would need to undergo a public hearing before developing on the new mega site property within town limits and which ones would not.

The group agreed Thursday that filling stations, prisons, broadcast studios and storage units for explosive materials, as well as livestock yards, exchanges, auctioning buildings and processing plants all must obtain a special-use permit and undergo a public hearing before development is approved.

Certain businesses were banned outright in the group’s proposal, including junkyards, automobile impounds, outdoor dog kennels and paper mills.

“We’re trying to make an attractive community, and this will be a large part of it as it grows,” said Bonnie Good, chairperson of the planning commission and focus group leader. “We have an opportunity here to build something unique, and it’s wonderful.”

The term mega site refers to a large chunk of land annexed by the town, along with 150 acres already owned by the town, to be used for business and industrial purposes.

Along with the special-use issues, the group discussed other matters, including the architecture requirements for development, exterior fencing, and zoning possibilities.

While Good said the site should be an aesthetic draw in itself, Robert Whitehurst Jr., who owns the mega site property, said to do so might put an undue burden on businesses and scare them away from developing.

The board also discussed how it would like to handle different industrial zones. While no consensus emerged, one popular idea included nestling I-3 zones (heavy manufacturing areas) inside of I-1 zones (business complexes).

Pending on how the buildings are zoned, the board would also need to determine the type, totality and aesthetics of the fencing around the property.

In a follow-up on the meeting, Good said it’s important to remember that planning is ongoing and nothing is set in stone.

“This is a baby at this stage,” she said. “We’re just putting ideas on the table.”

In the meantime, the focus group will continue to meet to hone its recommendations for the Planning Commission. Good said the group will not move forward its ideas until the comprehensive plan itself is finished, which may not be until the end of 2016. Until then, there will be workshops and meetings to keep bringing a cohesive layout together.

The focus group’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 16.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com