Home-based artisans won’t need permit

Home-based artisans won’t need permit

By Heather Michon, correspondent

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday (Oct. 17) a zoning text amendment that adds fine arts studios to the list of home-based businesses permitted by right in the A-1 Agricultural District.

This means that many home-based artisans won’t need a special use permit to operate in Fluvanna County.

The change grew out of a 2017 project by the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program that was looking into the feasibility of establishing an artisan’s trail in the county. In talking with local craftspeople, they found that the costs of applying for a special use permit was a major factor hampering the growth of artisans’ businesses.

“Anything that removes barriers to access for small business is a positive,” Chamber of Commerce President Rudy Garcia said in support of the text amendment.

Brad Robinson, senior planner with the Planning and Zoning Department, said the Planning Commission recommended approval of the amendment.

He noted that larger studios and businesses will still need a permit, but overall, the change will give small home-based businesses more flexibility and promote economic development in the county.

Another zoning text amendment regarding residential density also passed on a 5-0 vote.

The amendment will allow the construction of 10 dwelling units per acre with a special use permit in the R-3 zoning district, which encompasses the Zion Crossroads and Rivanna community planning areas. The current maximum under the ordinances is 2.9 dwelling units per acre, restricting development of planned communities and multi-family structures.

The change brings residential density allowances into line with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Unexpected savings

The theme of the evening – other than the Fluvanna High School football team’s current winning streak – was unexpected savings.

In an update on the Zion Crossroads water and sewer project, county purchasing agent Cyndi Toler reported that bids for three major components of the system had come in at $960,000 below original projections.

Fluvanna will also see lower-than-anticipated costs on the installation of fire hydrants along the Louisa County water line.

The county tentatively earmarked around $200,000 for up to 15 hydrants. Fire chiefs settled on nine hydrants. Another will sit right on the county line, and Louisa will pay half the cost for the unit.

This brings the total costs to $142,500.

More importantly, it brings hydrants to a part of the county that badly needs them. Supervisor Mike Sheridan, who volunteers with the Kents Store Volunteer Fire Department, said their tanker trucks currently have to drive up to 13 miles to fill up at the nearest hydrants during active fires. “This will have to be a huge benefit to all of us,” he said.

Business park

Andy Wade, director of economic development for Louisa County, gave an extensive presentation on a proposed Regional Business Park that could bring jobs and economic opportunity to Fluvanna and other local counties.

Louisa is hoping to develop about 1,400 acres just off of the Shannon Hill exit on 1-64. Sites will be “shovel-ready” for businesses ranging from light industrial facilities and warehouses to biomedical companies and office buildings.

“This is a regional changer,” said Wade. “It’s a state changer.”

If fully developed, within 20 years they project the development could produce between 10,600 and 14,000 full-time jobs. Economic output is projected at between $4.8 and $6.4 billion, with an anticipated $13.5 to $18 million in tax revenue annually.

The project, which would cost around $40 billion to develop, is still in its earliest stage. “I have no request for you at this time,” he assured the supervisors.

If developed, Louisa County would offer Fluvanna and other surrounding counties the opportunity to invest in the project. Right now, the projections show investments would reach the break-even point in about 15 years, and then begin producing regular annual revenue. “Consider it a long-term annuity,” Wade said.

Public hearings

Advertisement of two public hearings slated for late November have been approved.

One hearing will focus on a contract with Louisa County to share Fluvanna’s E911 emergency call system, while another will look at an ordinance that could allow condemnation of properties for the Zion Crossroads water project.

Letters recently went out to around 80 property owners to open negotiations for sale to the county.

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