‘Low Impact’ Text Amendment Passed

SNOW HILL – A text amendment approved this week will allow home occupations in accessory buildings on properties with estate zoning.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a text amendment that will allow home occupations in accessory buildings of up to 3,000 square feet in the E-1 estate district on parcels that are larger than 80,000 square feet.

“This is a very low impact text amendment,” attorney Mark Cropper said.

Cropper said his client had property in St. Martin’s Neck that was zoned E-1 even though it was surrounded by agricultural land. Cropper said that if the commissioners had eliminated the E-1 zone as originally proposed in 2009, his client’s property would have been rezoned at that time and he wouldn’t have had to propose a text amendment. Home occupations in accessory buildings on parcels greater than 80,000 square feet are already allowed in the A-1 and A-2 agricultural districts.

When asked what his client would do with the accessory building, Cropper said it would be used to store plumbing supplies.

“And your client feels that’s appropriate for something like South Point?” Commissioner Bud Church said.

Cropper said that while his client’s property was not in South Point, in theory the same use would still be appropriate in that neighborhood, which is also zoned E-1.

“The aesthetics of the property and the building don’t change,” Cropper said. “There’s no obvious appearance of the use on the property.”

He said there were home occupations already in the county.

“There are many home occupations throughout the county that are not noticeable to any neighbors because of the limitations and restrictions you have in your zoning code about home occupations,” he said.

Michael LeCompte, president of the South Point Association, said property owners in the community didn’t want to see pole buildings in the area and didn’t want the noise and traffic that could be associated with home occupations.

“They take great pride in the area that we live in,” he said.

He said he worried about potential car repair businesses and the like popping up in what is currently a quiet community.

“We can see it taking off,” he said. “It could be possibly a nightmare for complaints.”

Ed Tudor, director of development review and permitting, said that the code currently allowed accessory buildings in the E-1 district. The text amendment would just address the use of such a building.

Rick Martello, a South Point Association board member, said he was worried about a home business becoming a retail operation.

“Unless it’s policed I don’t know what you can do to stop it,” he said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino pointed out that the commissioners hadn’t eliminated the E-1 district because South Point residents had objected. If the district had been eliminated, the text amendment Cropper proposed would not have been needed.

The commissioners voted 6-1, with Church opposed, to approve the text amendment.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.