STAUNTON — When Staunton City Council elected to defer decision-making on the McDonough Toyota Entrance Gate matter, its directive to staff was simple: Draft a set of amendments to provide for different sets of regulations for dealerships. automobiles in the entrance corridors.

The amendments, as currently presented, would not account for the area of ​​a dealership’s land used to display cars for sale as part of the parking lot, while allowing entrance gates to be constructed and lit, provided that the light from the structure is not to exceed five foot candles.

This number, according to lead planner Rodney Rhodes, was taken directly from the application for the McDonough Toyota entrance gate, and it is believed not to be an excessive amount of lighting by staff.

While the amendments were created by the lighting of an entrance gate, the planning commission took issue with the other parts of the amendment regarding the regulation of car parks and the distinction of car dealerships from the rest of the hallway.

“I don’t understand why we are developing a special set of regulations for a particular type of business,” Commissioner Adam Campbell said, adding, “especially a type of business that, if not designed properly , could possibly have the biggest impact on the negative visual aspect of an entrance hallway.

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This sentiment was echoed by other committee members, with most hesitant to support an amendment that would allow large sections of roadway to be laid for car parks around dealerships. Commission President Judith Wiegand pointed out that there would be multiple needs for parking areas on the concessionaire’s property outside of the exhibition areas alone, and she was hesitant to support an amendment that would allow the exhibition of large areas of cars.

“It’s not appealing that way, and I don’t know, it’s hard to tell from there what’s the best way to ask a company to structure its niche,” she said.

Wiegand also pointed out that several other businesses in the Richmond Avenue entrance hall use outdoor displays for their products, which was echoed by Vice President Jessica Robinson, citing the perception of special treatment for a type of company and saying it sounded “dishonest”.

The planning commission overwhelmingly did not favor the proposed changes, with several commission members citing the ongoing process of updating the entrance hallway design guidelines, with Commissioner Brad Arrowood calling the idea of ​​”strange and rushed” edits.

“I fear that by removing this particular section from the Corridor Order process where it is currently being reviewed, we are putting some of the cart before the horse and that is embarrassing,” Wiegand acknowledged.

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“I would not support any zoning ordinance changes related to this issue until we are done with this. [the entrance corridor design guideline overhaul]”Campbell said.

Rhodes said the amendment was a directive from city council and the amendments were still being worked on by staff. He hoped to present a fuller set of amendments next month to the committee, hoping not for an “up or down” vote, but rather depending on which parts of the amendments the committee supported.

“We look forward to seeing what you bring to us next month, and we’ll look at what we can support,” Wiegand said, pausing before adding, “If anything.”

—Akhil Ganesh is the government reporter at The News Leader. You can contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @akhildoesthings.

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