By Brandon Martin
After hearing opposition of many community members, the Henry County Board of Supervisors declined an application for the rezoning of residential property to develop commercial self-storage units.
Adam Foley proposed to start his business on property located on the northwest side of Smith Rucker Road, approximately 400 feet north of Virginia Ave., in the Collinsville District.
Lee Clark, director of planning and zoning, said “the concerns that were expressed both by the residents and the commission is that this is the first lot in the residential part of the subdivision. There was concern expressed about changing that first lot in the residential subdivision to commercial and thereby affect change in the character of the existing community there. There was also concern addressed about additional traffic.”
Based on concerns of the Planning Commission and department staff, Clark recommended the application by Foley be denied.
“I listened attentively during the concerns of the community about the rezoning of that land,” Foley said. “All of the issues that I heard were specific to the convenience store and the issues that have been with the convenience store for quite some time regarding shootings, trash and things of that nature. This is a completely separate business and a completely separate use of land.”
To help alleviate some of the concerns, Foley said he intended to implement lights to prevent “riff-raff” that is “unlikely to occur in a well-lit area.”
Additionally, he said signs and fences would be used to prevent undesirable patronage.
“I do not plan on allowing that to happen to my business. I will not allow that stuff to happen at a place of my business,” Foley said. “I understand the concerns of the community with that land being changed to commercial zoning.”
Gary Brown, of the Collinsville District, spoke out against the proposal.
“I’ve been there for approximately 43 years, and I am in opposition of this for several reasons,” he said. “Number one, it’s right there when you start into our subdivision. It’s probably going to create more traffic.”
Brown said that the visitors to the business would inevitably tour the rest of the neighborhood.
“You don’t know what people are up to. You don’t know what they are looking for. You don’t know how honest they are,” Brown said.
Of the additional lighting, Brown said there are already areas that “are lit up like a football field at night,” but that it hasn’t deterred “people from coming over there and parking.”
Brown also questioned the motives of people that would use Foley’s business.
“People that take the rental part there, are they really for a good reason just to store things or are they storing things illegal,” Brown asked the board. “If it’s illegal, what are they going to do within our neighborhood? Before I go, I’m going to leave you with one question. If you lived in my neighborhood, would you want that there?’”
Several other community members detailed similar concerns before the board unanimously voted to deny the rezoning application.
In other matters, the board:
*Heard an update on delinquent tax efforts from County Treasurer Scott Grindstaff. As of Oct. 30, 93.86 percent of 2019 personal property taxes and 95.52 percent of 2019 real estate taxes have been collected.
*Approved a list of projects for the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The plan will be forwarded to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to maintain the eligibility of the participating localities to receive EDA funding.
*Awarded contracts to R. K. Chevrolet, $37,603.03, and Hall Automotive, $238,924.82, for replacement vehicles used by the Sheriff’s Department.
*Approved a resolution to update the jail inmate fund’s signature authority. The jail inmate fund is made up of cash on Henry County Jail inmates at the time of their arrest or contributions to them from their family members. These funds can only be used for the health and welfare of county inmates.
*Appropriated $50,000 from the Department of Housing and Community Development and the $15,000 from the Harvest Foundation to cover the costs associated with conducting a Broadband Planning Study.
*Approved the carryover of $76,787,757.77 in funds from fiscal year (FY) 2020’s budget to FY21. This includes interfund transfers of $4,247,783.91.
*Reappointed Marcus Stone to the Public Service Authority for a term to expire in 2025; Jeannette Hurd, Pamela Randall, and Bonnie Favero to the ANCHOR Commission for terms to expire in 2024; Barry Jarrett to the Ninth District Development Financing, Inc., for a term to end in 2022. The board also reappointed Lee Clark and Brian Mc Alexander to the West Piedmont Planning District Commission for terms to end in 2023.
*Considered changes to the Henry County Code of Ordinances to levy a one percent sales and use tax to fund school construction and renovation for a period of time commending on April 1, 2021 and ending on July 28, 2040 and to authorize the Virginia Tax Commissioner to collect said tax. The measure was previously approved by Henry County voters on a ballot referendum during the most recent election.
*Approved a rezoning request for property located at 1160 Fisher Farm Road in the Ridgeway
District. The applicant has removed the existing site-built house and intends to replace it with a double wide manufactured home.
*Heard from Steven Edwards, representing his parents who live in the Reed Creek District, regarding excessive noise from a neighbor’s generator.