340 Cigarette oulet store owner wants...

340 Cigarette oulet store owner wants to expand

Posted in the Berryville Forum

Clarke County WD

United States

#1 Oct 3, 2012
BERRYVILLE — The owner of the 340 Cigarette Outlet at 3355 Lord Fairfax Highway (U.S. 340) north of town wants to expand to add gasoline sales, but must first get Clarke County’s blessing on a rezoning.

Cigarette Outlet, formerly Chester’s, needs approval from the Planning Commission for a designation to highway commercial use. It must also be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

The business, which dates to 1954, is already a non-comforming use, but is grandfathered in. Rezoning approval is needed to allow for the gas sales, however.

County Planning Director Brandon Stidham said the rezoning from agriculture-open space to highway commercial would be “conditional,” as owner Mahlon Jones would make various proffers to the county to lessen the impact of the use on neighbors.

One of the changes would be a new entrance, with a deceleration lane on Route 340. This is important because of the lack of sight distance for motorists who crest a hill right before the entrance to the business.

Planning Commissioner Jon Turkel called the current situation “a disaster waiting to happen,” and said he was happy about the chance to improve the traffic situation.

“Everybody knows how dangerous that is,” agreed County Zoning Administrator Jesse Russell.

Stidham said the Virginia Department of Transportation will require a commercial entrance for the shorter-than-standard deceleration lane, which is all planned to be on Jones’ property frontage.

Jones plans to demolish most of the buildings on the almost six-acre site, Stidham said, and create a new convenience store with four dual-pump service islands.

Commissioner Robina Rich Bouffault said she is concerned about the precedent that might be set by allowing the “spot zoning” use to be enlarged.

Russell, however, pointed out that the county, in the past, has rezoned a number of businesses that had been operating for many years, even though they were not allowed in the zones surrounding them.

Bouffault said she is also concerned with the possibility of gasoline spills contaminating the water supply.

Stidham said the Virginia Health Department has approved an alternative septic system for the property, since the area is not served by public water and sewer. However, he still has questions about monitoring and enforcement of the system.

There was a community meeting to inform neighbors about the plans for the property on Sept. 25, Stidham said. No major concerns were voiced at that meeting.

The Planning Commission will set a public hearing on the rezoning request — probably for its Nov. 2 meeting — at its regular monthly meeting on Friday.

In other business, the planners read through the changes to the first chapter of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which is being updated, and were mostly pleased with what they saw.

William “Chip” Steinmetz said he would like to see the planners take a look at possible highway commercial uses for the area of U.S. 340 just north of the Va. 7 Bypass.

The county, he said, has said it wants to consider highway commercial use at its major intersections.

“That’s the biggest [intersection] we’ve got,” Steinmetz said.

Russell noted that there is no water and sewer service on the north side of Va. 7, adding that Berryville would have to be amenable to extending services beyond its boundary there. And, any businesses locating there might result in the loss of a business in town.

Bouffault noted that planning for that area would fall to the joint town-county Berryville Area Development Authority, not the county, but Steinmetz said there should be “no sacred cows.”

“I think we should look at it,” he said.

Attending the meeting at the Joint Government Center were Chairman George Ohrstrom and members Clay Brumback, Scott Kreider, Jon Turkel, Cliff Nelson, Anne Caldwell, William “Chip” Steinmetz, Robina Rich Bouffault, Tom McFillen and Supervisor John Staelin.

— Contact Val Van Meter at [email protected]

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