BERRYVILLE — A proposed change to Clarke County's code would clarify when planning officials believe it's necessary to change the address of a home or building.

At 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19, the Clarke County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings on the proposal and a couple of other land-use matters.

Appropriate numbers must be assigned to structures to make it easy for police, firefighters and ambulance crews to find them if an emergency occurs, according to county Planning Director Brandon Stidham.

Structures along private access easements are the most common example of ones that sometimes may need to be assigned new addresses, Stidham said.

Generally, an easement isn't assigned a street name until three or more homes and/or structures used for business or gathering purposes are built along it. The easement must be the structures' main entrance from, and exit to, a public road. 

A structure on a private access easement — one having no more than one other significant structure — typically receives an address specifying the road.

If a third significant structure is built, the easement then is assigned a street name. That structure's address references the new name, and the other structures are given new addresses also referencing that name, according to Stidham.

Already, the code reads that an address change may occur if a property owner moves the driveway access point after an official address is issued.

The proposal would add a reference to the situation that Stidham described. It also would add a provision that an address change can be made if officials determine it's "necessary to ensure (the) efficient provision of emergency services."

"Optimizing emergency response times is a critical factor in deciding whether to readdress a property," Stidham said.

County Administrator Chris Boies said incidents in which property owners are unhappy with address changes occur "every once in a while."

With the code change proposal, "we just want to make sure we have the legal authority" to change addresses when necessary, Boies said. "We're just codifying practices" already in place.

Another proposal would repeal a code chapter concerning outdoor lighting in agricultural, forestal and rural residential areas.

Provisions of the chapter were incorporated into the county's recently revised zoning and subdivision ordinances.

The lighting rules are designed to enhance safety and security, reduce light pollution in the atmosphere and prevent glare from occurring on public rights of ways. They're also intended to keep unwanted light from trespassing onto adjoining properties, thereby protecting the privacy of property owners.

In June 2007, the rules were placed into the code following a recommendation by Clarke County Planning Commission members at that time. Stidham, who wasn't employed by the county then, doesn't know why.

It makes more sense, current planners reasoned, to make the rules part of the revised ordinances. The rules pertain to matters that planners usually handle more than they do than legal concerns.

Yet another change being considered would remove provisions for public dance halls from the code. None exist in the county now, and the zoning ordinance doesn't allow them.

The provisions are "potentially out of date," Stidham said. They've been in the code for many years, and they apparently stem from a state law enabling localities to regulate dance halls through permitting processes instead of zoning ordinances, he said.

"This (proposal) doesn't ban dancing in Clarke County," he emphasized.

Under the ordinance, dancing may be allowed at commercial properties such as restaurants, private clubs and musical performance venues.

The hearings will be held in the main meeting room on the second floor of the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center on Chalmers Court.

— Contact Mickey Powell at

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