Lost business blamed on zoning rules

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - As the Route 1, Route 54 and Hill Carter Parkway corridors become more attractive to businesses, town leaders are thinking about change. Right now business owners must leave a 20 foot setback from the current or future right of way.

That's toughest on corner lots--who have to do it on two sides.

"We've found with these corner lots that when it comes to perspective economic development it's become an issue. In many instances we've found that we haven't been able to redevelop property or property that hasn't been developed on; we've had a hard time finding businesses that would fit these sites," Dir. of Planning and Community Development Nora Amos said.

With this proposal, corner lots could get away with 15 or even just 10 feet by meeting certain criteria that still satisfies the towns landscape requirements.

"We are kind of offering a menu of options that people could get either increasing their parking lot landscaping, increasing their street trees or increasing the amount of landscaping that they have within the buffer itself," said Amos. "It gives developers and engineers more options to work with the small pieces of property they have."

Last summer, we told you about similar relief in another area of Hanover County--also designed to boost development and expansion.

Businesses along Old Mechanicsville Turnpike in Mechanicsville Village are now allowed to expand their shops with no landscaping requirement in this case.

"There's a whole lot of potential here as far as properties that aren't really developed as much as they could be," said Williams Bakery Owner Ron Williams.

The town will be hosting a public hearing about this issue next month. It will be held at the planning commission meeting on July 13th at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The ordinance will then go to the Ashland town council for a final decision.

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