Board of Supervisors Meeting Date:

Raymond E. Graham, Vice Chairman, Cedar Run District Supervisor


April 12, 2007


Staff Lead:


W. Todd Benson, Assistant Zoning Administrator

Community Development




A Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to Section 3-314 to Permit Motor Vehicle Impoundment Facilities and Towing Companies in Commercial Highway (C-2) Districts by Special Permit and to Change Such Uses Permitted By-Right in  Commercial Neighborhood (C-1) to Uses Allowed by Special Permit and to Add a New Section 5-1407 Establishing Conditions for Such Uses


Topic Description:

At present, towing businesses are permitted by interpretation as accessory uses to service garages and are allowed independently, by right (subject to site plan approval) in Commercial Neighborhood (C-1), Industrial Park (I-1), and Industrial General (I-2) Districts. This amendment would extend towing and impoundment yards to Commercial Highway (C-2) Districts by special permit.  It further would change the use from a by-right use to a use allowed by special permit in Commercial Neighborhood (C-1) Districts.


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:

A recent enforcement action prompted staff to review the Zoning Ordinance regulations pertaining to towing operations.  Staff is aware of ten towing businesses in the County, through review of a list provided by the Sheriff’s Office.  The businesses are located in C-1, C-2, I-1 and I-2 Districts.  A review is underway to determine if they are legally operating under the zoning laws.

The Zoning Ordinance does not specifically list towing companies as a use; however, motor vehicle impoundment facilities are a specific use under Section 3.314.6 in the C-1, I-1 and I-2 districts, with a limit of 10 vehicles.  In addition, towing businesses have been allowed by interpretation as an accessory use to auto repair garages under Section 3-314.3; such garages are allowed in all commercial and industrial districts.  There is no provision in the Zoning Ordinance for the businessman who simply has a truck and transports vehicles to impoundment yards or garages.

Staff believes it is appropriate to allow, by-right, impoundment yards in Industrial Districts subject only to site plan approval; the existing ordinance does so.  Oddly, impoundment yards are currently allowed by-right in C-1 Districts but not at all in C-2 Districts.  Both of these districts are intended to be primarily for retail and service uses, rather than storage of motor vehicles.  But, given the small size of allowed impoundment yards (10 vehicles), staff believes there may be some instances where it is appropriate to allow a towing company and/or impoundment area on the property, particularly since auto repair stations, a similarly impactive use, are already allowed in both zoning districts. In the particular enforcement case raising the issue, the towing company/impoundment lot would locate a small portion of a C-2 lot already occupied by other uses.  Therefore, staff recommends allowing impoundment yards in both the C-1 and C-2 districts, subject to special permit and site plan approval.  Appropriate changes to Section 3-314 are proposed as well as additional standards in a new Section 5-1407.   The standards are intended to assure appropriate location and screening of the use.

At present, the County has three towing companies using one impoundment yard, located in an I-1 District.  Such multiple use is allowed, however, the facility is restricted to ten vehicles; the operator can not have multiple ten vehicle impoundments.

Staff further recommends that towing businesses be allowed to operate from Industrial Districts, regardless of whether they impound on the site or at another site, or nowhere at all.  A change to Section 3-314 is proposed to allow such towing businesses.

This proposed amendment was initiated by the Planning Commission on January 25, 2007. The Planning Commission, after public hearing, unanimously recommended approval on February 15, 2007.


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

Department of Economic Development

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