A 2017 Halifax Comprehensive Plan recognizes the Cluster Springs area along U.S. 501 South as an area for business growth, and one Cluster Springs couple, Donnie and Ruth Green, are attempting to expand upon that growth with a rezoning application.
The Halifax Planning Commission has recommended Halifax County Board of Supervisors rezone 37.69 acres from A-1 to B-2 for commercial use located at 6002 Huell Matthews Highway, despite opposition voiced by several Cluster Springs residents.
Supervisors plan to address this matter when they meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Mary Bethune Complex in Halifax. Usually supervisors meet on Mondays, but their meeting was pushed back a day due to the Labor Day holiday.
This is the second rezoning application the Greens have submitted in recent months. The first application was to rezone a 100x250 area to construct a 10x30 billboard but after opposition from neighbors, they withdrew their application.
Now they have no current plans for the commercial use, according to Jerry Lovelace of Lovelace Consulting, LLC who recently addressed the Halifax Planning Commission. Lovelace spoke on the Green’s behalf.
The prior applicant is out of it, he said.
Nonetheless, he advocated on the Green’s behalf and for business growth in the Cluster Springs area.
He also noted that the 2017 Comprehensive Plan designates the area as a “growth area,” and said that plan was made with input from county leaders, planning commissions and others. He also noted that the public had an opportunity to give their input.
Lovelace said there were community meetings and public hearings.
In speaking to the planning commission, Lovelace said the Cluster Springs area has evolved over the years and said it is “no longer a residential only or ag only community.”
He noted that six of the adjoining properties are commercial in nature. Within one mile of this site, there are 14 current or former businesses, he added.
In addition to those, he also said there is a VDOT area headquarters, fire department, post office, elementary school and multiple league ball fields.
Lovelace also noted that the Greens did not participate in the formation of the 2007 or 2017 comprehensive plans.
Regardless, several Cluster Springs residents still have concerns about rezoning the area.
Kenneth Owen spoke in opposition to the application when the Halifax Planning Commission recently held a public hearing.
He is an adjacent property owner, and he said after the last commercial project was put at this property, he was faced to deal with his pond turning red every time it rained.
A total of 11 concerned citizens also submitted letters voicing their opposition.
Bunny Propst, who is the daughter of Cluster Springs resident Barbara Talbott, said her concern was safety.
“Far be it for me, a business owner, to discourage new business. But I truly feel this is not an appropriate use for land in regard to that intersection,” said Propst, who noted that numerous vehicle accidents and at least one fatality have occurred there.
In another letter, written by Gary Rogers, he questioned county planning maps saying, “I don’t understand how the current residential use property, of which we own 20 acres of, just becomes planned commercial land in your 2017 Comprehensive Plan.”
He said no one contacted him about it.
However, Rogers also said he is not against the Greens developing the property as long as it is done with restrictions, similar to when the Cluster Springs Dollar General was built.
Donna Hudson asked the planning commission to protect the rural nature of the neighborhood, and Allan and Wanda Murray said they “strongly opposed this effort” to rezone the Green’s land.
The couple said that would result in neighbors not having any say so as to what will be placed on the property.
Dorothy Watts, Nancy Morris, Lesley Oakes, June Walker and Mary Tuck also signed a letter voicing their opposition to the rezoning.
Despite no one publically speaking in support of the request at a recent planning commission public hearing, commissioner John Beard said there are just as many people for it as there are opposed to it.
If approved, this re-zoned location from A-1 to B-2 would be behind the current Cluster Springs Dollar General. The storage facility and Apple Market near Dollar General are zoned B-2.
While Beard said he understands the oppositions concerns, he said the county is looking toward making progress.
Supervisors also plan to do the following Tuesday night:
• Hear a presentation from Karie Walker regarding the Virginia Association of Counties’ certified county supervisor program;
w Consider adopting a resolution recognizing Mitzi Thompson of the Halifax Militia for her efforts to organize a Back the Blue Rally in support of law enforcement. The Back the Blue Rally was held at the Halifax Market Place on Aug. 23, and “speakers supported law enforcement and pledged to fight legislation, which would curtail the actions of police; and the rally reinforced the pro-Second Amendment,” as stated in the resolution.
• Consider the 2020-29 Proclamation for Constitution Week 2020. Sept 17 is the 233 anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America.
• Consider adopting a resolution recognizing the Halifax Militia “pursuant to the Second Amendment” and “Article 1 and Section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
• Hold a public hearing for a conditional use permit by applicant Cellco Partnership dba Verizon Wireless Agent to install a 195’ monopole wireless communication tower at River Road and Ashton Hall Road.
The property is currently owned by Virginia and Mack Gentry and consists of 26.47 acres and is zoned A-1.
• Consider authorizing staff to execute a Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes an arrangement between the county, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marine Corps to allow the U.S. Marine Corps to utilize the Halifax County Fairgrounds for training simulations and exercises. Supervisors also are to consider authorizing staff to consent to future individual specific exercises presented by a Formal Notification of Realistic Military Training.
• Consider recommendations from the finance committee on CARES Act funding usage, preliminary general revenue and expenses for the end of fiscal year 2020, FY21 revenue projections and a potential refinancing opportunity.
• Hear a courthouse project update.