Highland Planning Commission July Meeting


The Highland County Planning Commission held it’s monthly meeting July 22.  Commission members considered the recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals on a sign variance application from Atlantic Coast Signs for the proposed Family Dollar store.  Following discussion, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to issue an unfavorable recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

During discussion Zoning Administrator Josh Simmons said that from a planning perspective, it would not be good to allow one business do something that another business wasn’t allowed to do, in comparison with the Dollar General store.  He also said he had received letters in opposition to the variance.

County Attorney Melissa Dowd explained that Monterey has slightly different limitations on sign size than the county does.  There are also regulations on illuminated signs and lighting, since there is a Dark Sky Ordinance.  Dowd also said it was her observation that the applicants have not been forthcoming with information.  She said Simmons has had difficulty contacting them and they have not reached out to the Monterey Town Council.   She also felt there was a legal issue, because the variance application was signed with no indication of that person’s title or connection to the applicant, Atlantic Coast Signs.  She said there’s probably a connection, but it’s not obvious.  And as of July 22, she said the application lists a new owner of the property that has not taken possession yet.

Simmons said the property sale is very close to being done and it should happen before the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing.

Dowd also said the reason listed for requesting a variance was not clear, as it says “visibility and branding standards”.   Simmons said he had never had an applicant word it like that when requesting a variance.

Monterey Mayor Ron Wimer said the Town Council was not in favor of the variance in the way it was presented.

John Sweet of Mustoe spoke during the meeting in opposition to the sign variance.  He said the drawings show the Family Dollar store looking like a warehouse and he had concerns about the proposal of two signs that would be bigger than normally allowed.  He also expressed concerns about the lighting and it’s impact on the Dark Sky Ordinance.

The Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing on the variance application is Tuesday, July 27, at 6:30 at the Highland Modular Conference Center.    More information, including a site plan, is at www.highlandcovabz.org

There was also discussion about ideas for revision of the RV ordinance.  County Attorney Melissa Dowd said one way may be to create language that addresses zoning districts, such as agricultural and residential, versus having a stand-alone ordinance that covers all areas.   The ordinance is for non-commercial use.

And the Commission approved renewals of conditional use permits.  One was for the Allegheny Highlands Agricultural Center.  Josh Simmons explained that the new name is now Monterey Meats.  He said they are hoping to start limited processing in August, which would not be USDA approved at that point, and they are looking for a full-time employee.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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