First-floor city dwelling gets panel’s OK

Posted: March 21, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A request to allow first-floor residential use at the proposed apartment at 110 E. Fairfax Lane received the support of the city’s Planning Commission Tuesday.

By a 4-0 vote with one abstention, the commissioners recommended approval of Glaize Properties’ request for the former commercial property.

The company plans to turn the two-story former shipping office for Valley Lumber into a single apartment as part of its phased, mixed-use redevelopment of the entire lumberyard.

The recommendation will be forwarded to City Council, which is expected to approve or deny the permit at its April 9 meeting.

Glaize is proposing a two-bedroom apartment, with one downstairs in the front of the building and a master suite taking up the top floor. The sidewalk is narrow, and the first-floor bedroom would be only a few feet off Fairfax Lane.

Planning Director Tim Youmans told the commissioners that City Council generally doesn’t like first-floor bedrooms in the front of an apartment. However, he said he can’t recall anyone requesting a first-floor front bedroom situated like this.

Lawton Saunders of Saunders Building & Construction said he didn’t think it would be a problem to turn the bedroom into a study.

“I think that will probably be the way it’s used,” the Winchester builder said.

Commission Vice-Chairman Stephen Slaughter Jr. said he thought the plans were acceptable for the property. His lone concern was setting a precedent that could lead to less appropriate permit requests.

Commissioner Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr. abstained from the discussion and vote. He said he had no direct ties to the project but abstained because of a potential appearance of impropriety.

The commissioners also unanimously voted to initiate a proposed text amendment to the city’s sign regulations but opted against advancing potential changes pertaining to restaurants and entertainment establishments.

Both proposed ordinances are slated to be discussed at the Planning Commission retreat, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 6 in the Exhibit Hall at Rouss City Hall. A public hearing on the sign ordinance likely will be held at the commission’s April 16 meeting.

Attending the meeting at Rouss City Hall were Chairman William Wiley, Vice-Chairman Stephen Slaughter Jr. and commissioners Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr., Dave Shore and David Smith. Commissioner Jennifer Beatley was absent.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com