Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Planning Commission


February 8, 2007


Staff Lead:


W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator


Community Development




A Proposed Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 3-313 by Adding a New Category for Sex Offender Treatment Allowed in Commercial Districts by Special Permit adding a new section 5-1307 with performance standards.


Topic Description:

This proposed text amendment would allow sex offender treatment in Commercial Districts by special permit.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors:

Conduct a public hearing and consider adoption of the attached Ordinance.

Financial Impact Analysis:

No financial impact analysis has been conducted.


Summary Staff Report:

At present, business offices are allowed in Commercial Districts and Industrial parks.  Depending upon the size of the facility, the use is permitted by right or by special permit.

A controversy erupted recently when a business for counseling sex offenders began in a Commercial District (C-1) next to a residential neighborhood; the business is a by right use permitted in a business office.  This controversy caused the County to re-evaluate its zoning classifications in this regard; not all business uses are the same.  This proposed amendment arises out of that evaluation.  The proposed amendment is to allow psychological and behavioral therapy offices in Commercial Districts by special permit.  In this way, a case-by-case determination may be made for the appropriateness of such uses.

Since the Planning Commission action, a question was raised by a citizen as to whether the proposed change would prevent a recurrence of the recent controversy.  The answer is likely, yes.  A special permit requires notice and a public hearing.  At such time, concerned residents can provide input to the Board of Zoning Appeals.  One of the General Standards applicable to all special permits is the following: “The proposed use shall be such that it will not adversely affect the use or development of neighboring properties.”   It is inherent that under this section, the Board of Zoning Appeals could deny a special permit application for various kinds of counseling  located adjacent to or in a residential community. If, however, the Board of Supervisors wants to emphasize this point to the Board of Zoning Appeals, it could amend the proposed Ordinance  to include a new section as follows:

5-1307             Additional Standards for Psychological and Behavioral Therapy  Offices

      1.  Special permits shall not be issued for such offices treating sexual offenders at locations in proximity to residential neighborhoods, schools, playgrounds, and other locations that potentially pose undue accessibility to children.

This language has the additional benefit of making clear that sex offenders fall within the category “Psychological and Behavioral Therapy Offices.”

This proposed amendment was initiated by the Planning Commission on November 30, 2006. On December 19, 2006, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval.

The Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission established “psychological and behavioral therapy offices” as a new Subsection 30 in Section 3-313. Since the Planning Commission action, the Board of Supervisors passed a Zoning Ordinance text amendment to Sections 3-312, 3-313, 3-400, 5-1200, 5-1300, and 15-300, to amend approval requirements for commercial retail and business uses.  Because of changes to Section 3-313, the subsections now end at 26. Another potential addition to Section 3-313 is in the legislative pipeline and anticipated to become Subsection 27.  Accordingly, this report shows “psychological and behavioral therapy offices” as Subsection 28.


Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Department of Economic Development


1.   Proposed Revisions to the Zoning Ordinance

2.   Letter to the County dated January 4, 2007 from Bill and Sharon Kline


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