County adopts tighter growth rules

July 27, 2005|by TARA REILLY


The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday formally adopted tighter growth regulations affecting 250,000 of the county's rural acres.

The County Commissioners voted 3-2 to adopt a new zoning map, a comprehensive planning map and text changes to the county's Zoning Ordinance.

In a nutshell, the action means fewer homes are allowed per acre in rural areas.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and commissioners James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps supported the zoning changes, known as the county's rezoning plan.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell and Commissioner John C. Munson voted against the changes.

The vote was the same as a July 12 decision, in which the commissioners agreed to support the rezoning plan.

The rezoning plan, which is part of the county's Comprehensive Plan, reduces the number of homes allowed in rural areas and attempts to direct growth to areas that have the resources such as water, sewer, road and school capacities to handle it.


According to the plan, one home is allowed for every five acres in an agricultural zone.

One home per acre had been allowed in the agriculture zone.

The plan allows one home per 20 acres on land zoned environmental conservation and one home per 30 acres in preservation zones. Both designations are new.

But the plan also leaves some flexibility in the amount of growth allowed in rural areas.

The plan gives landowners who owned property as of Oct. 29, 2002, an exemption to subdivide three to five lots, depending on the acreage, in addition to the number of lots allowed under the new rezoning densities.

Additional exemptions are available to developers of historic properties under certain conditions.

Munson has said he thought the zoning changes were unconstitutional and Wivell has said the rezoning plan would direct the most growth to agricultural areas that contain the best soils for farming.

Landowners have said the rezoning proposal would devalue their land by limiting its development potential.

Zoning changes adopted

The rezoning of approximately 250,000 rural acres in Washington County became official on Tuesday, after the County Commissioners formally adopted the zoning changes. Here's how they voted:

Yes: Gregory I. Snook, James F. Kercheval, Doris J. Nipps

No: John C. Munson, William J. Wivell

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