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Illustrative Sketches  Comments? More readable copy if needed. Revised 3/3/05 from earlier version.

Comparison to Comprehensive Plan



Plan B is a meaningful re-write of the Jefferson County Zoning Ordinance, to give us:


Lower Taxes

Less Houses

Less Traffic

More Business


Lower taxes can come if the County Commissioners change zoning to allow quiet, clean business more easily.


New businesses pay steady taxes and don=t need many services, so they keep everyone=s taxes down.


New houses cost government over $30,000 per house to build government services, and developers pay less than $7,500 toward this impact, so the rest of us pay the cost. That=s why our taxes skyrocket when a lot of new homes are built.


Current zoning is backwards. It lets thousands of new homes erupt in every field and bankrupt us. Current zoning tightly restricts business. We get higher taxes and crowded roads, while only home builders benefit, and they can easily build in other counties around us instead.


This Plan B would allow more quiet, clean business than housing. It also protects farming, scenery, historic sites, and the environment.


Illustrative Sketches are at http://listeners.homestead.com/files/jefnewb.jpg They show how Plan B keeps farms and open space, with clusters of housing and business.


For example, 300 acres could have up to 900,000 square feet of businesses for up to 1,200 employees, or up to 60 townhomes or 60 small houses, or 30 large houses of unlimited size. It could also have a farm with on-farm sales twice as large as current zoning and on-farm processing. Farm worker housing would definitely be allowed.


Call County Commissioners and ask them to act quickly. Every week=s delay means hundreds more homes under the current rules. Delay brings more traffic, higher taxes, and less business. County Commissioners are President A. M. S. (Rusty) Morgan, Greg Corliss, Jim Surkamp, Dale Manuel, and Jane Tabb.


You can call them any time. And write a short letter to the editor (include your address & phone).



                                      DETAILED  INFORMATION  ON  PLAN B


ZONING ORDINANCE: Replace the entire zoning ordinance with the following:


1. The goals of this ordinance include the following as required by 8A-7-2(a):

(1) Promoting general public welfare, health, safety, comfort and morals;

(2) A plan so that adequate light, air, convenience of access, and safety from fire, flood and other danger is secured;

(3) Ensuring attractiveness and convenience is promoted;

(4) Lessening congestion;

(5) Preserving historic landmarks, sites, districts and buildings;

(6) Preserving agricultural land; and

(7) Promoting the orderly development of land.


2. Basic Zoning Rules (Table 1)



b. Permitted Uses

c. Height, area of build­ings, bulk

d. Vegetated setbackA from roads / sensi­tive areas / historic site / other property lines

e. Evergreen bufferB from roads, prop­erty lines, streams

f. Other


Authority in State Law, Chap­ter 8A-7-2(b)

2(b)(1) Regulating the use of land and designating or prohibiting specific land uses;

2(b)(8) Regulating the height, area, bulk, use and ar­chitectural fea­tures of buildings

2(b)(10) Preserving green spaces and requir­ing new green spaces, landscaping, screening and the preservation of adequate natural light;

2(b)(5) Establishing design standards and site plan approval procedures;


Rural Development District (R) - All areas previously zoned Rural

Higher Density Development District (H) - All areas previously zoned Residential Growth.

Higher Traffic District (T) -All areas previously zoned Residential/Commercial/ Light Industrial, and Village

Industrial District (I) - All areas previously zoned Industrial





Land which scores under 60 in LESA system may double its density to the level allowed in the H district (below).

If cluster indexG < 1.5, allowable housing is number shown at right times (1.5/cluster index), up to double the housing shown

10 houses of any size per 100ac, or a larger number of housing units totaling up to 30,000sf per 100ac.E

<40' high

50'F/ 100' /300' / 10'


Wells 50' from any farm & founda­tion, 100' from termite treatment




20 houses of any size per 100ac, or a larger number of housing units totaling up to 60,000sf per 100ac.E

<40' high

50'F/ 100' /300' / 10'


Only half as much allowed if traf­fic would worsen below level of service CD


    R, H,T

Businesses inside houses, which cannot be seen, heard or smelled outside the house, and do not generate more than 16 extra arrivals in any one day

no limits, except on the housing itself, as shown above


    R, H,T

Group Residential Facility, 8A-11-2

same limits as housing in respective zones


  R, H, T, I

Farms & Horse facilities & closely related tourism

(no limit)


setback for each struc­ture = height of that structure


Farmers have a right to farm, using traditional and innovative methods. People living nearby must accept that side effects of farming will disturb residential development.


  R, H, T, I

On-farm slaughtering

<30,000 lbs per year

50' / 100' / 300' / 40'

10' where within 200' of another property

Waste disposal methods (e.g. com­post, septic, hauling) need ap­proval by county health depart­ment


  R, H, T, I

On-farm processing of that farm=s products & related products



50' / 100' / 300' / 40'

10' where within 200' of another property

Waste disposal methods (e.g. com­post, septic, hauling) need ap­proval by county health depart­ment


  R, H, T, I

On-farm sales, with over 10% of  the value raised on the farm. Other 90% can be any­thing.



50' / 100' / 300' / 40'

10' where within 200' of another property




All businesses, except those listed separately, with <30 ar­rivals/week/acreC On property lines: sound <60dB; light <10 footcandles; no distinctive vibration, heat or smoke; no distinctive objectionable odors, traffic not drop below level of service CD


<40' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'

quarter of a foot per ar­rival per week

min 15'

max require­ment 100'

Retain 10-yr storm (4.95inches of rain), to drain into ground within 10 days


<40' high

Also retain 100-yr storm (7inches), no time limit on draining into ground



All businesses, except those listed separately, with <60 ar­rivals/week/acreC On property lines: sound <60dB; light <10 footcandles; no distinctive vibration, heat or smoke; no distinctive objectionable odors


<40' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'

tenth of a foot per ar­rival per week

min 15'

max require­ment 100'

Retain 10-yr storm, to drain into ground within 10 days


<40' high

Also retain 100-yr storm, no time limit on draining into ground



All businesses, except those listed separately. On property lines: sound <60dB; light <10 footcandles; no distinctive vibration, heat or smoke; no distinctive objectionable odors


<40' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'


Retain 10-yr storm, to drain into ground within 10 days


<40' high

Also retain 100-yr storm, no time limit on draining into ground



All businesses, except hous­ing, adult, & essential utility equipment. On district bound­ary: sound <60dB; light <10 footcandles; no distinctive vibration, heat or smoke; no distinctive objectionable odors

<50% imper­meable sur­face.

<75' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'


Retain 10-yr storm, to drain into ground within 10 days

<75' high

Also retain 100-yr storm



Adult businesses

<40' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'


1500' from District boundary, 1500' from lot with house, church, school, human care, 2500' from other adult business or its sign. Not visible from any historic site or from Potomac R., Shenandoah R., or Opequon Cr.


  R, H,T, I

Schools & their outdoor facili­ties


50' / 100' / 300' / half foot times high occupancy




  R, H,T, I

Fire, Ambulance, Police sta­tions


50' / 100' / 300' / 100'




  R, H,T, I

Fences, mailboxes, newspaper tubes, sheds, historic markers

<6' high





  R, H,T, I

Fences 6' to 10' high, school bus & mailbox shelters

<10' high

2' (need not be vege­tated)




  R, H,T, I

Freestanding signs

<40' high

10' / 100' / 300' /sign ht


Lighting aimed down & not in drivers= eyes. Not visible from any historic site or from Potomac R., Shenandoah R., or Opequon Cr.


  R, H,T, I

Flag poles

<40' high



No upward lighting


  R, H,T, I


No restrictions on easements which prohibit uses. Easements which permit uses are al­lowed, but the uses must also meet zoning restrictions (e.g. utility easements)



Clearing any amount of timber on a parcel




Note article 5


    H, T, I

Clearing less than 50% of tim­ber on a parcel




Note article 5


    R, H,T

Businesses which do not meet the limits above may be al­lowed by Conditional Use Per­mit if they meet the criteria given in the section on Condi­tional Uses.






The following essential utilities & equipment are permitted in all zones, as required by 8A-1-2(f) 8A-7-3(e)


    R, H,T

Water & sewer plants


<40' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'


Not visible from any historic site or from Potomac R., Shenandoah R., or Opequon Cr.



Water & sewer plants

<75' high

50'F/ 100' / 300' / 40'

300' from District boundary only

Not visible from any historic site or from Potomac R., Shenandoah R., or Opequon Cr.


  R, H,T, I

New overhead utilities

<200' high.

Below tree line of Blue Ridge

2X pole ht / 40' / 300' / 0'

These setbacks are for poles, not cables.


Transmission towers over 40' and cleared pathways between them shall not be visible from any his­toric site or from Potomac R., Shenandoah R., or Opequon Cr.


  R, H,T, I

Other towers (cell & water)

(Note windmills with moving blades are not just a tower and are regulated with All busi­nesses, except those listed sep­arately)

<200' high.

Below tree line of Blue Ridge

2X tower ht / 100' / 300' / 2X tower ht


Not visible from any historic site or from Potomac R., Shenandoah R., or Opequon Cr. Cell tower & antenna must be >1000' from lot with house, church, school, human care. Private cell tower >40' must provide bond for removal.


  R, H,T, I

Underground utilities, phones, call boxes, hydrants, traffic signals


2' (need not be vege­tated)

Water, sewer, & gas lines must be 100' from sinkholes


Trenches need waterstop every 100'. Sewer lines need leak detec­tion system.


  R, H,T, I

Regulating & measuring de­vices & structures in which they are housed

<20' high

twice structure height




A Sensitive areas are: streams; ponds; sinkholes; rock fissures over 5' deep, wetlands; habitat supporting rare, threatened or endangered species. Note the Floodplain Ordinance also regulates uses along floodplains. Historic sites are property listed on the West Virginia or National Register of Historic Places, or battlefields identified by Millard Bushong=s History of Jefferson County or Jefferson County Confederate Veterans= Historic Markers.


B At least half the trees included in the evergreen buffer initially must be fast growing, sized to become nearly opaque from grade of road/stream/property line to 6' above said grade within 2 years, and to grow at least 30' above said grade at maturity. Heights may be partly or entirely achieved by berms. Mix must include at least 4 species, no one species starting at over 30% of plants. Thinning for growth may alter mix, but once the buffer has become nearly opaque at a particular height, that height must be maintained or the business closed until it is restored. Width during the first 10 years is measured to the size the tree crowns are expected to reach in the 10th year, and at actual width after 10 years. This is not in addition to vegetated setback; the same land can count for both. Parking must be behind the evergreen buffer, not outside it. No buffer is needed for buildings which exist 1/1/05 unless their volume is expanded more than 30%.


C Arrivals count motorized vehicles, but not pedestrians or bicycles (8A-7-2(b)(11)). Limits are applied each week, not averaged over a longer period.


D Level of service will be determined along most direct main road to closest of: Martinsburg, Winchester, Hagerstown, Frederick, Leesburg. Traffic will be evaluated at time of final plat approval, based on state definitions of levels of service and on the traffic expected if 80% of unbuilt lots with final plat approval up to that time are built.


E When limits are shown per 100 acres or per acre, they are proportional for other sizes. For example a 50-acre site is entitled to half as much as a 100-acre site. Every parcel existing at time of adoption of this amended ordinance is allowed at least one house of any size.


F Road setbacks marked with note F must be the greater of the height shown or twice the height of the structure. For example a house up to 25' high needs a 50' setback, but a house 40' high needs an 80' setback.


G Cluster index is area of a circle enclosing all homes & driveways except one, measured in acres per house. Thus a cluster of worker apartments or sales or rental homes may be built at a distance from the main house, which would be the one excluded from the circle. Note that if cluster circle has ¾ acre per house, construction limits double. Lots & septic systems if used may extend outside the circle; this is to encourage clustering of homes & driveways, to preserve open space.


3. Parent-Child Transfers

An individual or a married couple who have in their own name(s) or through a corporation, at least 30% ownership of a parcel of land, may set aside a housing unit for each of their children or parents, even if this limit exceeds the limits in Table 1. The recipient may not sell the property for five years. The original landowner may take advantage of this exception only once for each child or once for each parent, only on land they have owned over ten years, and only if they lack enough land to make similar provision without the exception.


4. Rules Applicable Everywhere:

a. Uses may be combined proportionately on the same or different lots. Subdividing is optional.

b. When square feet are limited per acre, the acres needed to support a certain number of square feet shall be identified by easement, shall be in the same zoning district, and may not be double-counted to support additional square feet at the same time. If a residue lot has used some of its development rights under previous versions of this ordinance, rights under this amendment may also be used, in proportion to the rights which remain under the previous ordinance at the time this amendment is adopted.

c. Business customers may not park on public roads or subdivision roads, except up to 2 special occasions per year; business must provide enough parking off street.

d. No flashing lights (except holiday lights for up to 2 consecutive weeks/yr)

e. Signs on a parcel may not in total exceed 1sf per 1000sf of floor area

f. No light across property lines brighter than 10 footcandles (10 candles 1 foot away, typical of a hallway)

g. Roof may overhang up to 3' into setback

h. Decks, porches and windows may project into setback up to 3' and no more than 30sf per structure

i. Antennas, chimneys and other projecting equipment, totaling up to 0.1% of structure volume, may extend above 40', but not above 75', except when eligible as essential utilities and equipment which has its own limits.


5. Development around Existing Vegetation


a. The H, T, and I districts are considered urban as the term is used in 8A-7-10(c), and an owner  may not reduce tree cover below 50% of tree cover on the effective date of this ordinance, nor below 25% of the site, whichever rule preserves more tree cover. If an owner in the R district does so, he or she may not change the use of the site for 10 years thereafter.


b. The following limits apply to all lands east of the Shenandoah River and all lands within 1,000 feet of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and Opequon Creek.


Weighted Average

Slope of Land              Percentage of Land To Be

Percent                        Maintained in Natural, Undisturbed Condition

10 ‑ 14.9                                  25

15 ‑ 19.9                                  40

20 ‑ 24.9                                  55

25 ‑ 29.9                                  70

30 ‑ 34.9                                  85

35+                                          100


6. Elements Required by State Law

This ordinance does, as required by 8A-7-2(c)

(1) Create a board of zoning appeals;

(2) Specify certification requirements for zoning district maps that are consistent with the governing body's comprehensive plan;

(3) Adopt procedures and requirements for nonconforming land uses;

(4) Adopt procedures and requirements for variances; and

(5) Adopt procedures and requirements for conditional use permits.


a. Board of Zoning Appeals;

There is hereby created a Board of Zoning Appeals with authority and duties as provided in 8A-8.


b. Zoning District Maps

Zoning district maps shall be certified by the County Commission or its designee, after verifying that they conform to the comprehensive plan.


c. Nonconforming Land Uses

c1. As required by 8A-7-10(c) and (d), land, buildings or structures in use when this zoning ordinance is enacted can continue the same use so long as the use of the land, buildings or structures is maintained. An interruption of a year means the use is no longer maintained, except a duly designated historic landmark, historic site or historic district is considered to maintain its historic use as long as it remains registered.


c2. This ordinance permits:

- alterations or additions to or replacement of buildings or structures owned by any farm, industry or manufacturer,

- the use of land presently owned by any farm, industry or manufacturer but not used for agricultural, industrial or manufacturing purposes,

- and the use or acquisition of additional land which may be required for the protection, continuing development or expansion of any agricultural, industrial or manufacturing operation of any present or future satellite agricultural, industrial or manufacturing use.


c3. Where existing uses do not exceed the limits allowed in Table 1, uses may be increased to those limits. Where existing uses exceed any limit in Table 1, no more use may be added which would cause that limit to be further exceeded.


c4. Vested property right shall be provided in accordance with 8A-5-12


d. Variances


d1. Variance Procedures. Variances shall be requested from the Board of Zoning Appeals on forms specified by that Board.


The Board shall conduct an evening hearing to hear oral comments, and shall accept written comments up to the beginning of the hearing. The Board may conduct another hearing if needed to clarify issues.


Staff shall post the application on the internet.


d2. Variance Requirements. In accordance with 8A‑7‑11:

(a) A variance is a deviation from the minimum standards of the zoning ordinance and shall not involve permitting land uses that are otherwise prohibited in the zoning district nor shall it involve changing the zoning classifications of a parcel of land.


(b) The Board of Zoning Appeals shall grant a variance to the zoning ordinance if it finds that the variance:

(1) Will not adversely affect the public health, safety or welfare, or the rights of adjacent property owners or residents;

(2) Arises from special conditions or attributes which pertain to the property for which a variance is sought and which were not created by the person seeking the variance;

(3) Would eliminate an unnecessary hardship and permit a reasonable use of the land; and

(4) Will allow the intent of the zoning ordinance to be observed and substantial justice done.


e. Conditional Use Permits


e1. Conditional Use Permit Procedures. As described above for variances.


e2. Conditional Use Permit Requirements. A business use may exceed the limits shown in Table 1 if it meets the following conditions: Noise may exceed the decibel limits if it does not exceed the average daytime and nighttime noise from neighboring uses during the day and night, respectively. Light may exceed the limit at each boundary if it does not exceed the average nighttime light at that boundary from neighboring uses. Arrivals may exceed the limits shown if they are directly from a public street and do not exceed the arrivals of any adjacent site or other site within 100' of where the vehicles will be (driveway, parking, etc.). Odors, vibration, heat or smoke may be permitted if they are no more distinctive or objectionable than odors already in the area (e.g. a restaurant next to an existing restaurant).


The Board of Zoning Appeals may disallow a permit, even if it technically meets the conditions above, in case of potential harm to nearby landowners or the public at large. After a business opens, it may be compelled to suspend activity (e.g. turn off lights or stop all noise for a few minutes), no more than once every six months, to allow testing of these conditions, if necessary, and if there is reasonable doubt that they are being met.


7. Enforcement


Anyone may bring alleged violations of this ordinance to the attention of the Planning and Zoning Commission, or staff it designates. They may take action in accordance with 8A‑2‑11(12) and 8A-10, including recommendations to the County Commission for action under 8A-10-1. The County Commission may also act without waiting for the Planning and Zoning Commission, under 8A-10-1.


8. Status


a. These regulations apply to all the unincorporated area of Jefferson County, West Virginia; and do not apply to incorporated areas.


b. Should any article, section, subsection or provision of this Ordinance be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the Zoning Ordinance as a whole or any part thereof other than the part so declared to be invalid or unconstitutional.


c. Any ambiguities may be referred to the Board of Zoning Appeals by any person. The Board of Zoning Appeals shall recommend any clarifications it deems appropriate to the County Commission whenever necessary, and at least by July 1 each year.


d. If multiple rules appear to apply, they shall all be applied.


e. This text replaces the entire previous Jefferson County Zoning and Development Review Ordinance, and becomes effective on passage.


f. This may be referred to as the Jefferson County Zoning Ordinance.


9. Definitions Terms not defined here may be defined in the footnotes of Table 1 and in Chapter 8A (such as farm).


Adult businesses - Businesses with more than incidental emphasis depicting, describing or relating to sexual conduct or excitement.


Business - an activity which is not housing. The term business includes non-profits and government.


Child & parent - including biological and legally adopted children of either spouse, but not foster children.


dB - peak decibels, except during emergencies, when limit may be exceeded.


High occupancy - highest number of children & adults present, except 10 consecutive hours per month may be ignored (e.g. major game or event)


Housing - a building or group of buildings which are used by households and their guests for cooking, sleeping, and other activities of daily life, either year-round or on occasion. Rentals where the average stay is at least three months are housing. Housing can include necessary storage for staff and residents, and work areas for staff, in the same building as the residence(s). Housing can include outside storage buildings of no more than the volume of the average housing unit on the same site. Group residential facilities are not housing, but have the same rights as housing. Time-shares, hotels, college dormitories, and nursing homes are examples of uses which are not housing. Household members may include non-relatives who stay for at least three months on average, such as students sharing a unit. Housing can include septic systems, swimming pools, ball courts, gazebos, decks, patios, paths, children=s play structures. All these are included in any square foot limit only if they have a roof more than 6' high.


Human care - Business where non-employees sleep at night, including hotels, hospitals.


Natural, Undisturbed Condition. - This exists where the terrain has not been altered in form by human activities such as cutting, filling, blasting or leveling and where natural vegetation exists.


Natural Vegetation. - This occurs when a property is allowed to revert to a wild condition with native plants.  No cutting, trimming or cultivation takes place in areas of natural vegetation.


Roads - state roads, city roads, subdivision roads and rights of way. The term excludes railroads, walking paths, and any route which accesses only a lot or lots owned by a single entity.


Sf - square feet. In measuring area of buildings square feet are measured outside the building, including finished and unfinished space, walls and halls. Excludes areas less than 6' high or filled with trusses (e.g. play houses, crawl spaces and attics). Includes active outdoor business areas, such as stored materials and outdoor displays, but not farm fields.


Visible - by unaided normal human eye. Antennas on a pre-existing tower shall be deemed not visible, even if a human eye can actually see them.


10. LESA formula  [as in 1/6/05 staff draft]