Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Planner: County in sticky spot after sewage vote

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 8/4/2014

A division between county commissioners is seeping out of a Williamsburg business’ non-compliant sewage system.

Members of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners were asked last week by county planners to revoke a special use permit for Jim Poe, Williamsburg, who employs about five workers, because a holding tank used for sewage on property he leases does not meet Franklin County zoning regulations for commercial use.

A division between county commissioners is seeping out of a Williamsburg business’ non-compliant sewage system.

Members of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners were asked last week by county planners to revoke a special use permit for Jim Poe, Williamsburg, who employs about five workers, because a holding tank used for sewage on property he leases does not meet Franklin County zoning regulations for commercial use.

Poe had been notified the tank was non-compliant, Larry Walrod, Franklin County zoning and regulations director, said, and even was given a six-month extension to find a way to comply with the zoning rules regarding a septic tank and a fence, among other issues on the property. A year later, however, Poe has yet to make needed changes to the system, Walrod said.

The county considered revoking Poe’s special use permit, which allows him to build sheds and similar structures at the property, because of his failure to upgrade to a compliant system, but the effort ultimately failed on 2-3 vote, with Don Stottlemire, Roy Dunn and Rick Howard voting against it. Colton Waymire, commissioner, and Steve Harris, board chair, supported revoking the permit.

Howard, commissioner for the Williamsburg area, said pulling the permit could result in his community losing another business — an all-too-common occurrence in Williamsburg.

“Over the years, we’ve just watched businesses leave, and we have very few left,” Howard said. “I’d hate to see us lose anything else out there. ... I would like to see them continue to come into compliance and possibly work on reapplying if we don’t reissue a permit.”

But allowing Poe and his business to skirt the zoning rule didn’t sit well with all the commissioners.

“At some point, it’s unfair to other businesses that do it right, that are in compliance, that have made the investment,” Waymire said.

In July 2013, commissioners approved Poe’s request for a special use permit, against recommendations of the county planning commission, according to county documents. The approval was given under several conditions, including improving the sanitation system to regulation standards and protecting the work site with a 6-foot solid fence within six months of the extension.

Poe failed to complete his end of the deal, Waymire said.

Nancy Lillie, Poe’s daughter and his representative at the meeting, said the family had run into financial issues that had to be addressed before they could finish improving their work site to meet county regulations.

She also argued that county documents state that a holding tank is in compliance, rather than installing a costly septic tank system, to meet the sanitation regulations. She noted Poe is leasing the property for the business and making improvements on the property would not be under his ownership.

By not revoking the special use permit, Walrod said, commissioners were putting the county in a tricky situation.

“You would be setting a precedent to allow these holding tanks for commercial uses, which means you have now basically ignored the provisions of our sanitation code,” Walrod told the board.

The board sent the issue back to the planning commission.

comments powered by Disqus