IW planners OK rezoning over opposition

Published 2:56 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

A family wants to build a house on a rural road in Carrollton. More than 30 neighbors have signed a petition opposing the requested rezoning. At the root of the issue — in the words of the landowner’s attorney, William H. Riddick III — is “a problem only lawyers could understand.”

Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission, for its part, is recommending approval for the requested rezoning, despite the opposition.

Earl Griffin, who owns 13.5 acres on Vellines Lane, hopes to sell the land to Portsmouth couple Ryan and Kathy Bugg, who plan to construct a single-family home on the site. Building a house on the site, according to county officials, will require the property’s rezoning from rural agricultural conservation (RAC) to conditional rural residential.

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The petition, however, contends all of the other 28 homes on the road, and one currently under construction, are also located on lots zoned RAC. According to the county’s zoning ordinance, single-family homes are already permitted under RAC zoning.

Jerry Shepherd, one of the petition’s signers who spoke during the Planning Commission’s April 26 public hearing on the matter, said he feared the change in zoning could allow a “larger development” in the future.

“If they want to come and be neighbors, we’ll welcome them; we just don’t want a big subdivision,” said Ed Via, another Vellines Road resident.

According to county officials, the property was subdivided from a larger 74-acre tract in 2021. According to Beverly Walkup, who retired as the county’s planning and zoning director in 2016 and appeared on behalf of Griffin at the hearing, the land was subdivided using an “agricultural exemption,” which included a prohibition on single-family homes despite their allowance under RAC zoning.

“These people, they misunderstood … This is a problem only lawyers could understand or manufacture,” said Riddick, representing Griffin.

“We are not developers; we can’t afford to develop … . I feel bad for all these people because I would be in here with them, beside them, if I thought an apartment complex was going up there,” said Ryan Bugg.

According to county staff, while a straight rezoning to rural residential would allow for more than just a single-family home based on the size of the lot, the conditions in the conditional rezoning would limit the lot to one house with the possibility of no more than two additional homes via family-member transfers.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation for approval of the rezoning request was unanimous with Chairman Brian Caroll absent.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation will head to Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors for a final vote.