Highland Supervisors Agree To Rezone Hooke Brothers Lumber Company Site
Monterey, VA – There was a full house at the joint Highland County Planning Commission-Board of Supervisors meeting last Thursday evening as county residents packed the Modular Conference Center for the public hearing on rezoning the Hooke Brothers Lumber Company site in Mill Gap. Randy and Wickie Hooke and Jacob Meck have applied for the rezoning.
Mr. Meck would like to operate several of his businesses at the Highland County site including a portable toilet and septic pumping business, a trash compacting and transfer business, and a building contracting business. This is similar to his operation in Green Bank, West Virginia. Zoning Administrator Jim Whitelaw describes the matter being considered by the Commission.
“They wish to rezone 12.175 acres; it’s the land that was originally the Hooke Brothers lumber company located on Route 84,” says White. “Mr. Meck wants to rezone this so he can run a waste disposal business.”
While A-1 is a basic agricultural zoning district, an A-2 district has several other permitted uses such as commercial or service establishments including but not limited to automobile service stations, landfills, auto graveyards, tourist motels and hotels as well as contractor’s storage yards. Most of the property around the Hooke Brothers sawmill site is currently zoned A-1, but there is a small A-2 parcel across Route 84 from the site. The fact that there is an A-2 parcel near the sawmill site already means that rezoning the sawmill site to A-2 would not be considered spot zoning.
Following the public comment period, the Planning Commission approved a motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors rezoning the Hooke Brothers sawmill site from A-1 to A-2. Supervisor Jerry Rexrode then commented that the Board would have to determine a reason to justify the rezoning.
“Shouldn’t have been zoned A-1 in the first place,” says Rexrode. “Let me go a little further; convenience – yeah, very much so. It’s a subject none of us like to deal with, but it’s a necessity that somebody pumps septic systems, that somebody supplies portajohns, any way you want to look at it.”
The Board of Supervisors then approved a motion to rezone the property to A-2.
County Attorney Melissa Dowd asked Mr. Whitelaw if the US Forest Service had been notified by letter about this rezoning public hearing. The county zoning ordinance requires that all adjacent landowners be notified about the public hearing on the rezoning.
He replied that they had not been notified. So the rezoning decision by the Board of Supervisors now appears to be contingent on whether or not the Forest Service has any objections. Ms. Dowd also pointed out another requirement to the Planning Commission and the Supervisors.
“You have to have an acceptable site plan to consider a conditional use, and the site plan has got to include as a minimum lot dimensions with property line monuments, location and size of existing and proposed structures, yard dimensions, easements, water courses, and of course you would have to see what your setbacks look like,” says Dowd.
Planning Commission Chairman Harry Sponaugle replied that they had not been requiring detailed site plans for past conditional use permits. A decision was made by the Planning Commission to defer the public hearing on the conditional use permit to the January meeting of the Planning Commission so Mr. Meck could provide a detailed site plan.
The next meeting of the Highland County Planning Commission is scheduled for Thursday, January 26 at 7:30 PM in the Modular Conference Center.