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Triple S Planning Commission: Lighting changes approved

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Commission adds definitions, cleans language in several zoning articles

By Todd Martin

New commercial developments will have to start dimming their parking lights at closing, thanks to amendments to the county’s zoning regulations.

The Triple S Planning Commission Tuesday unanimously approved staff recommendations for several text amendments on lighting and the addition of several definitions. The recommendations included several suggestions gathered from the public hearing on Aug. 20.

“There were a lot of good suggestions made at the public hearing,” Triple S Executive Director Ryan Libke said.

Added commission chair George Best: “I want to thank Jim Ellis and Judy Arnold for going through this and making their suggestions.”

Libke noted that the changes were to clean up language in both Articles 2 and 14 – terms and definitions and zoning map and text amendments, respectively – and to make the lighting standards more stringent to reflect the improvements in fixtures.

Some changes made included:

  • Decreasing brightness of LED signs, so as not to affect drivers.
  • Removing single-family and agriculture zones from the exemptions of light bleed off.
  • Having commercial developments dim lights by 50 percent at closing to reduce light pollution.

However, one change that the public requested could not be met.

“We don’t recommend trying to set a time frame for existing structures to meet compliance with the new standards,” Libke said. “We feel like that might be a legal nightmare.”

Commission attorney Stuart Ulferts agreed, noting that he didn’t believe a mandate like that was within the scope of the commission.

“Setting a deadline to come into new compliance I’m not sure is in your authority,” he said.

The commission also added two more definitions during the discussion, including definitions for highway capacity and levels of service, as defined by the federal guidelines.

McDonald’s construction

After requesting a variance for a sign change, Joe Watts, the American Engineers’ representative for the request, asked to strike that request and added that it is probably dead.

“Based on our discussions with the utility companies, I don’t think we’re going to come back for that at this point,” he said.

However, the waiver request to remove one parking spot and add a shed that is built into the retaining wall and area surrounding the trash receptacles was approved.

Watts told the commission that although the store already had received a waiver to have 61 instead of the required 69 parking spots, the reduction of one more would not be a problem for the store.

“McDonald’s, which I can assure you does not want to turn away any business, has calculated a need for forty-four spaces for a store of this size,” he said. “And this store does about seventy to eighty percent of its business through drive-thru sales.”

Also at the meeting, the commission:

  • Approved the transcript and findings of fact for Tamara Bounds’ zone change request. The commission will recommend that fiscal court approve the change from Agriculture (Ag) to Residential Estate (RE) for 4.08 acres of the 5.08-acre site is to allow the owner to maintain a 4.08-acre property after selling 1 acre with a barn to an adjoining property owner. The property is located at 850 Rockbridge Road.
  • Approved partial bond releases of $226,817.26 for Cloverbrook Farms, section 3, and $48,580 for Hidden Creek Woods, section 2.
  • Heard in a report from Libke that 45 permits and 11 dwelling units were issued this month.