Council sets three public hearings for March 13, greenway expansion update and other Luray news

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Located just north of Luray, the Redwell-Isabella Furnace Historic District bounds approximately nine acres in Page County, on the west bank of Hawksbill Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. (Photo credit: David Edwards/DHR, 2021)

~ PVN staff report

LURAY, Feb. 28 — During its works session on Tuesday evening, the Luray Council set three public hearings for its March 13 meeting; two dealing with special use permits for apartments and a bed and breakfast, and one for rezoning several residential parcels at Fairview Estates.

Ramsey Inc. has submitted a request to rezone parcels 42A16-1-1 through 11, 13 and 14 of the Fairview Estates subdivision that were recently brought into the Town limits under a boundary line adjustment. The parcels are currently zoned Low Density (R-1) Residential, and the developer has requested to rezone the properties to High Density (R-3) Residential. The parcels total about 5.28 acres and were part of the recent boundary line adjustment agreed upon by both the Page County Board of Supervisors and the Luray Council, which specified and required this rezoning request.

Following a public hearing on Feb. 15, the Luray Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the application based upon citizen concerns about the increased density and traffic from duplex construction. The developer, however, has stated that he intends to only build single-family homes to match existing development as a voluntary proffer subject to the rezoning. The rezoning request will allow the developer to construct single-family dwellings on lots with reduced setback and minimum acreage requirement.

The Luray Council will hear additional comments on the rezoning request at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, March 13.

A second public hearing will be held that evening on a special use permit application submitted by Lanny Bailey to operate a bed and breakfast home at 16 Eden Road. The home is located in a medium density residential (R-2) district. A “Bed and Breakfast Home” is defined as a single-family dwelling, where for compensation, lodging and breakfast are provided to registered transient guests only. Guests are limited to two per bedroom, with on-site parking to be provided, along with on-site management. Other restrictions include stays limited to 14 days, guests limited to six at any one time, only one 4×4 sign allowed, a business license must be obtained, applicable taxes must be collected, and the permit shall not transfer upon sale of the property or membership interest in the holding company. On Feb. 15, the Luray Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval.

A third public hearing will be held March 13 on a special use permit application submitted by Dwight and Angela Griffith to establish a three-unit apartment at 800 Massanutten Avenue. The 8,500-square-foot structure sits within a Business District (B-1) on a 0.41-acre lot. A special use permit is required to establish apartments in a Business District per Town Code. Town staff recommend that off-street parking be provided for six vehicles, and signage be considered a separate permit application. On Feb. 15, the Luray Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval.

In other business at its Feb. 28 work session, the Luray Council also discussed the following issues:

• Following an update from the Hawksbill Greenway Foundation at its last meeting on the Yagers Spring extension, the council heard that a request will be placed on the March 13 agenda to allocate $18,500 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support the second phase of the greenway expansion to the Redwell/Isabella Furnace area. Racey Engineering has quoted $27,000 for its services, including an additional $5,000 for title searches to ensure Town ownership of all of the property involved in the project. The Greenway Foundation is planning to split the costs with the Town.

• Discussed the potential of forming a Tourism Zone within the Town, which is allowed by the state in order to offer additional incentives to promote the establishment or expansion of tourism-related businesses. Examples from Front Royal and Wythville were discussed in terms of different approaches, from tax incentives to regulatory flexibility. The council suggested that Luray Downtown Initiative Program Director Jackie Wood and Page County Economic Development and Tourism Director Nina Fox get together to “review what we have and how a Tourism Zone would help.”

• Discussed the potential updating of Town Code related to regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on residential properties. The current Code requires that only structures built prior to Dec. 31, 2008 can be used as ADUs. Councilman Ligon Webb, who first helped draft the Code as Town Planner 15 years ago, offered to draft an updated version for review at the next work session. Concerns were voiced about ADUs later becoming short-term rentals without being identified as such for taxation purposes. Webb also said he saw no need for requiring an ADU to be separately metered.

• Reviewed the Town budget calendar, which calls for a budget presentation by the Town Manager on Tuesday, March 28; four budget meetings through April and May (Draft Ad Review – April 10, General Fund discussion April 25, Enterprise Funds – May 8, and a general special meeting on May 23); with an early public hearing on May 8 and a late public hearing on June 12; and early adoption May 23 and late budget adoption on June 27.

• Heard that the Town has been notified that there will be no rate increases to its Health Insurance Program for FY23-24. Historically, the Town experiences minor rate increases each year.

• Councilman Jason Pettit requested that an item be added to the March 13 council meeting agenda for the appointment of Leslie Currle (of Alcova Mortage) to the Page County Economic Development Authority as a representative of Luray. If appointed, Currle will replace EDA member Meredith Dees. The former LDI director plans to move out of the area later this year. The council’s recommendation, if approved, will be forwarded to the Page County Board of Supervisors for final approval.

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