Planners set public hearing on boarding school amendments

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm

MILFORD – The Caroline County Planning Commission has put the finishing touches on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance to allow for boarding schools.

The commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes at its regular meeting Jan. 16.

The staff of the department of planning and community development brought the issue to the commission on December and reviewed the draft proposal with the commission at a work session last night. The commission discussed the draft measures and made a few changes.

The draft amendments define boarding schools and allow them by special exception permit in areas zoned rural preservation.

The proposed standards would require a minimum of 85 acres for a boarding school, and the property would need direct access to a state-maintained road. School facilities would have to be at least 250 feet from the property line, and buffering would be required. A school also would have to provide information about licensing and accreditation.

Commissioners discussed the draft proposal and tweaked it. For example, the planning staff had recommended a minimum of 250 acres for a boarding school, but the panel reduced the figure.

“We can’t start off with 250 acres,” said commissioner Robert Fiumara. Most boarding schools are run by churches or similar organizations, he said. Commissioners Pete Davis and Milton Bush also expressed support for a smaller minimum acreage.

The commission will convene a public hearing on the proposed zoning amendments at its next meting 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Community Services Center building.

The proposed zoning amendment, if ultimately approved by the Board of Supervisors, may pave the way to allow Abundant Life Academy a second chance to obtain permission to relocate to Caroline.

The academy, a Christian boarding school in Utah that serves troubled teenagers, sought permission last year to relocate to the Remuda Ranch facility about seven miles east of Sparta.

The Planning Commission recommended approving a special exception permit for the academy, but the Board of Supervisors voted twice by 4-2 to deny the permit.

The property is owned by a corporation, Beverly Run, that is controlled by Hanover County businessman A.D. Whitaker and associates.

Charles Payne, a Fredericksburg attorney representing the property owners, attended last night’s meeting as well as the commission’s December work session, when it began considering the matter.


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