Culpeper town planning commission takes a look at sandwich boards

No representatives from the Sunset Hills Estates project were present Tuesday evening when the Town of Culpeper Planning Commission unanimously voted down their application to construct 356 multi-family housing units off Sperryille Pike/Old Rixeyville Road.

Located in the West Fairfax Magisterial District, the decision on the proposed development on roughly 26 acres had been deferred from earlier meetings.

“There are more things wrong with this application than right,” said councilman Jim Risner. “This plan is not ready to come before the commission.”

Based on comments from the staff, the technical review committee and VDOT, Risner recommended that a letter be sent to the applicants advising them of the commission’s decision.

The scene for sandwich boards

Amending and updating the Town Code is an annual process. Each year, the Technical Review Committee and the Planning Commission conduct a review of current ordinances to determine whether updates and/or amendments are necessary.

Businessman Jim Wells spoke before the commission that the current verbiage was discriminatory against his business. Limiting the number of signs a business could display would hurt him as he has he several tenants occupying buildings.

“So, which of them would be allowed to have a sign?” he asked.

But, more than the verbiage, Wells believes that a comprehensive sidewalk code should be considered that would take in more than sign boards and address other issues that can pose challenges for businesses and pedestrians taking on the sidewalks of downtown Culpeper.

Sandwich boards are allowed without the requirement of a sign permit. There needs to be a 3-foot clearance on the sidewalks.

Wells was concerned about the height of some signs and actually what defines them. Also, he believed that they should be weighted in the event of high winds which could knock them over and pose a hazard.

Risner felt that there was enough good in the proposed changes not to dismiss them altogether. The commission voted unanimously for them to move forward for council’s approval, however, wording focused on number and placement of signs was removed and will be deferred for later discussion.

Director of Planning Patrick Mulhern said that he had walked the streets studying the signs and their locations.

“I’d certainly be happy to research further…we want a business friendly ordinance amendment…Wells does have some good points.”

Both the Department of Tourism and the Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. feel that too many signs on Davis Street lose their meaning. They would like to see some controls.

Other suggested changed to town code would allow a law enforcement officer to remove a motor vehicle, trailer, or semi-trailer parked on public highways or public grounds if there are three or more unpaid or otherwise unsettled parking violation notices.

In addition, parked vehicles need to have current, valid tags and a current inspection sticker if required by state law if they are parked within town property