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Orange officials approve rezoning

BY DAN McFARLAND

Orange County supervisors have approved a special-use permit for a retail nursery in Somerset and a commercial rezoning for a tract along State Route 20.

Grelen Nursery, at 15111 Yager Road, has been operating in the county for 21 years. With 35 full-time employees and a  $1.3 million payroll, it  is one of the county’s top five agricultural employers, Grelen President Dan Gregg told supervisors Wednesday night.

The company sought a permit to operate The Market at Grelen Nursery on 5 acres of its 600-acre site, selling plants, gardening accessories, gifts and books. Four people spoke at the public hearing at Grelen’s request, all supporting it.

Two of them were Kent and Evie Woods, owners of Liberty Mills Farm in the Somerset area.  Their 2011 application for a special-use permit for a farm market was approved, but with conditions limiting its size to 2,000 square feet and its products to only those  grown on site.

“[Mr. Gregg] is requesting many of the same things we requested a year and a half ago, that you denied to us,” Evie Woods said.  “We hope that you will grant them to him, and then also that you will grant them to us.”

Kent Woods said he didn’t know if they would be able to stay in business another year without the restrictions being eased.

“You need to have a value-added product to make it a viable business,” he said. “We’d like to try to make it.  I don’t know if we can, but we’d like a shot at it.”

Supervisor Lee Frame asked that one provision offered by Gregg—that special events held on site would have no amplified music—be included in the written conditions attached to the permit.

After Supervisor Shannon Abbs tried unsuccessfully to persuade fellow supervisors to include limits on foods sold to those having ingredients raised on site,  the permit was approved 4–0, with Abbs abstaining.

The board also voted 4–0 to grant Bernard and Carolyn Langhorne’s request to rezone their property at 21143 Constitution Highway from limited residential  to general commercial so a concrete-block building can be used for a two-bay auto repair facility. The Langhornes’ attorney, Helen Marmoll, noted that the building was previously an auto repair shop.

“The building,” Marmoll said, “is not suitable for residential, and the land is not suitable for agricultural.  Technically, there is no way to use this property without getting it rezoned.”

The lone speaker at the public hearing, next-door neighbor Michael Bober, supported the rezoning.

To address county staff’s concerns, Marmoll proffered that the property would not be used as an office building, place of worship, restaurant or convenience store.

Frame moved to table the request until the proffers were received in writing, but  his motion failed to receive a second. Frame abstained from the vote to approve the rezoning.

In other action, the supervisors unanimously voted to support a joint Planning District 9 resolution to continue a ban on uranium mining in the commonwealth.  The Rappahannock–Rapidan Regional Commission is expected to consider such a resolution at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Dan McFarland:

dmcfarland@freelancestar.com

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