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After debate, subdivision gets the green light

April 09, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Jefferson County planners Tuesday night gave the go-ahead for a 225-home subdivision in the county's rural zone, but not before more than an hour of debate about whether the subdivision should include a school site, a shuttle bus for commuters and whether land should be reserved for widening Flowing Springs Road.

Because the Forest View subdivision along Flowing Springs Road will be built in the rural zone, developers of the project had to obtain special permission - known as a conditional use permit - to build the subdivision.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit and required the developer to abide by three conditions, including providing either a berm or trees along Flowing Springs Road so it cannot be seen from the road.

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The other two conditions require developers to inform residents of the subdivision that farming is allowed in the area around the subdivision and to meet with the state Department of Highways about the possibility of reserving an 80-foot right of way along Flowing Springs Road to allow for possible widening of the road.

Another suggested condition was that the developer - known as Buckeye Development - offer about 10 acres for a school site. But there was debate among Planning Commission members about that idea.

Planning Commission member Mark Schiavone said offering the school site should be one of the conditions for approval because it is important to find possible land for schools and prevent taxpayers from having to buy the land.

The Jefferson County Board of Education would have to determine whether it is an appropriate site, Schiavone said.

Planning Commission members Rosella Kearn and Russell Roper argued it was not an appropriate site for a school. Kearn said using the subdivision's internal roads to the school would not be appropriate, and Roper said it would be impossible to expand the school should that become necessary.

Planning Commission member Rusty Morgan questioned why the commission staff does not do more research on such issues before they are brought to the commission for approval.

"Here we are, stuck without enough information," Morgan said.

Schiavone said he thought the process was "rife with lack of coordination."

Paul Raco, director of the county's planning department, said the county's land-use laws are written in a way that puts most of the decision-making in the hands of the Planning Commission, especially when it involves issuing permits for subdivisions in rural zones.

Another suggested condition for approving the permit for Forest View was requiring the developer to set up a shuttle bus system from the development to the nearby Duffields train stop.

That condition, the one regarding the school site and others were rejected for consideration.

According to the plans, the 225 homes would be built on 102 acres near the intersection of Flowing Springs and Francis Daniels roads.

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