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Board Approves Special Exception Request for Amherst Wedding, Venue and Retirement | Latest titles

A venue for weddings and special events, a fishing and hunting retreat and short-term rental of eight existing apartments and a main dwelling at the historic Kenmore Farm property in Amherst County recently received the zoning approval from county authorities.

On May 17, the Amherst County Board of Supervisors approved multiple special exception requests for these uses on a 47-acre residential agricultural zone (A-1) parcel on Kenmore Road. The parcel owned by Clara Blanchard Trust, according to county documents, includes a single-family home, four units near that dwelling, a main house with two units and an adjoining structure and a lake with two other units.

“The apartment buildings are non-conforming legal structures and were built before Amherst County had zoning regulations in 1982,” said Jeremy Bryant, director of community development.

Events at Kenmore Farm, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 and has a brick-built pre-war Greek Revival farmhouse from around 1856 that serves as the centerpiece of the entire property over of 130 acres, would have tents and catered meals delivered there, according to Wilson Blanchard, the project’s petitioner, in correspondence with Bryant through county filings.

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Blanchard said the property west of the town of Amherst is historically a special place for the county and for him personally. The property, which once served as a preparatory school for college students, has been in his family for five generations.

Per terms and conditions of council approval, guests to events will be required to park on the property and not park on neighboring land or any right of way outside the property unless they have written permission. and a parking attendant will direct traffic during events with more than 75 attendees.

Another special exception request, for a short-term rental of a single-family home at 779 River Road in Madison Heights on a 2.8-acre parcel owned by Alice Primm, also received council approval during the meeting. The parcel zoned General Residential (R-2) borders the James River, Harris Creek and River Road.

In another matter, the council approved a priority ranking list for roads requiring paving in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s six-year plan. VDOT Appomattox District resident engineer Robert Brown said sections along Lavender Lane and Campbells Mill Road are nearing completion and other projects on East Perch Road, Fox Hall Drive, Shady Mountain Road, Chestnut Lane and Beverly Town Road are scheduled to start this year.

“We have a very aggressive construction schedule this year,” Brown told supervisors of the planned paving. “We are using a lot of outside resources other than state forces to build these roads and we will do our best to complete them all this year and stay on track.”

Supervisor Claudia Tucker highlighted the need for a road in her district, Indian Creek Road, to move up the list.

“A school bus can’t go down that road anymore,” Tucker told Brown. “If you hit it right, you’re going to go through the mountain. There are orange cones up there – that’s how dangerous it is.”

Brown told Tucker he would look for temporary repairs that could address his concerns about that road until the project was processed in the coming years.

  • A redistricting measure that moves just over 450 residents of the county’s District 4 electoral district to District 5 has received unanimous council approval. As a general rule, each of the county’s five electoral districts is supposed to have less than 10% population deviation from each other. The 2020 census results counted 6,318 residents in District 1; 6,076 in District 2; 6,485 in District 3; 6,626 in District 4 and 5,802 in District 5. The difference between District 4 and District 5 was greater than 10%, necessitating the boundary change that brought the final tally for District 4 to 6,173 and the District 5 mark at 6,255. Those redistributed from District 4 to District 5 will move from voting at Amelon Elementary School to the grounds of Monelison College.
  • The board unanimously approved two ordinances that allow the county to pursue civil penalties for violations in the areas of overgrown weeds, trash and abandoned vehicles. The code changes give county staff another tool to deal with growing complaints in these areas, county attorney Mark Popovich said. Those who violate the vehicle ordinance will face a class 1 misdemeanor or civil fine of $200 for the initial summons and $500 for each additional summons. If three civil penalties are issued against the same defendant for similar violations within 24 months, a subsequent violation may be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor, depending on the county. For the litter and weed ordinance, homeowners who violate it can now face a minimum civil fine of $50. Depending on the seriousness of the breach, more aggressive remedies may be pursued. Additional violations within 12 consecutive months will result in increasing fines. If three separate civil penalties are issued within 24 months, future violations may be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor.
  • Supervisors authorized funding from the Board of Emergency Services to pay for a modern fire dynamics class, which improves firefighter safety. The 10-hour course costs $1,500. Sam Bryant, director of public safety, said the class will teach firefighters how to be offensive or defensive when responding to fires.
  • Sara Lu Christian, a former longtime director of the Amherst County Parks and Recreation Department, has been nominated to fill a vacant seat on the county’s Parks and Recreation Board. “It would be a blessing for her to use her expertise,” said David Pugh, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
  • Stacey McBride, the county’s chief financial officer, told council that a $1.1 million surplus was found in the current year’s budget. The influx comes from a rise in personal property taxes and rising vehicle values. The council has implemented a 20% reduction in property tax in the next budget which is due to start on July 1. The single-use surplus can go to the county’s fund for capital improvement projects, according to McBride.