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Planners back Whitehurst rezoning

A request to put industrial property in Mount Jackson back into agricultural use appears headed for quick approval next week.

The Mount Jackson Planning Commission voted Monday to recommend the Town Council approve an application submitted by Eleanor and Robert Whitehurst Jr. to rezone 136 acres of land in the corporate limits from industrial to agricultural use. Council could take action on the application at its meeting Tuesday, Town Manager Kevin Fauber said Tuesday.

The commission held a joint public hearing with the council on Monday. Eleanor Whitehurst explained to the commission and council the reason why she and her brother wanted to change the property’s zoning back to agriculture. The owners pay much higher taxes on the land under the industrial zoning. Meanwhile, the land remains undeveloped for light industrial use. Changing the zoning from the more intensive use to agriculture – sometimes referred to as “down-zoning” – would reduce what the owners must pay in real estate taxes.

An audience member asked how many times a property owner could apply to rezone land. Fauber said Tuesday his research showed that a property owner can apply once a year to rezone land. Should the council approve the Whitehursts’ application, the owners would need to wait a year before applying to change the property’s zoning from agriculture to another use, Fauber said.

The 136 acres are part of a larger group of parcels owned by the Whitehursts that they touted as a possible “mega site” for a large-scale manufacturing facility or other industrial user. The town recently annexed the remaining parcels into the corporate limits as requested by the Whitehursts. The annexed land remains zoned for agricultural use.

Also at the meeting, the commission scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 10 on a special-use permit application filed by Todd Holtzman, doing business as Triplett School Cafeteria LLC. If approved by the council, the permit would allow Holtzman to convert the former Triplett School cafeteria into four apartments each covering approximately 1,000 square feet.

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