“Rural Resort” Ordinance Amendment Proposed in Madison County


Good news: On Wednesday, April 3, 2019 the Madison Planning Commission tabled the proposed Rural Resort ordinance amendment. They plan to make changes prior to the next public hearing on May 1, 2019. After which they are likely to re-forward the proposal to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

Next Steps

The Planning Commission will hold a work session on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 to further address the “Rural Resort” language. A public comment period will be given during this work session. They will also review any comments submitted in advance of the meeting.

Submit a public comment letter to the Planning Commission via Betty Grayson at bgrayson@madisonco.virginia.gov >>

Attend the Madison County Public Work Session Wednesday, April 17th at 7pm 414 N Main Street, Madison, VA

Following the April 17th Work Session, the updated “Rural Resort” ordinance amendment will be addressed, and likely voted upon, during the Wednesday, May 1st joint Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors Public Hearing.

Joint Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors Public Hearing Wednesday, May 1st at 7pm 414 N Main Street, Madison, VA

The public is welcome to speak at this hearing. However, if you would like to affect the outcome of the ordinance, we would recommend you provide written comments or utilize the public comment period associated with April 17th work session. If the draft that proceeds to the May 1st hearing is substantially improved, we would urge you to thank the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for their responsiveness and dedication to protecting the rural character and residents of the county.

The following text was sent out as part of an email alert from PEC director of state policy Dan Holmes on March 28, 2019. To sign up for email alerts from PEC visit pecva.org/signup.

Madison County country road

Dear Supporter,

As the director of state policy, I normally reach out to you on statewide issues that impact our region. However, today I wanted to focus on something a bit closer to home — an ordinance amendment that would open up rural areas of Madison County to far more intensive uses.

This coming Wednesday, April 3rd at 7pm, the Madison County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will hold a joint public hearing to consider a change to its zoning ordinance. If adopted, the change would allow “rural resorts” as a special use in agriculturally zoned areas.

Madison County Joint Public Hearing Wednesday, April 3rd at 7pm 414 N Main Street, Madison, VA

Unfortunately, a joint meeting allows for consideration and approval that very same night, which is not a good sign. We hope that you will join us in our call for the Board of Supervisors to reject or, at the very least, postpone action on the amendment to allow for the language to be tightened (more on that below).

PEC’s new field representative for the central region, Chris Hawk, will be providing comments on the proposal at the public hearing. I hope you will attend, voice your thoughts and concerns, and introduce yourself to Chris. If you can’t attend, please be sure to weigh in with your representative on the Board of Supervisors prior to the hearing.

What’s a Rural Resort?

As proposed, “rural resort” is defined as “a destination designed to provide recreation, entertainment, and accommodations to transient guests.” It lacks specificity on the ultimate size and nature of the enterprises that may be entertained under the ordinance. In other words, everything from a modest country inn to a timeshare resort with hundreds of units could meet the current definition of “rural resort”.

Although I understand that the County probably wouldn’t want such a high-intensity use to locate in the rural area of Madison, there’s nothing in the definition or ordinance that would preclude it.

In the end, the public could be adversely affected by a number of potential impacts related to noise, transportation, water use, septic systems, lighting, etc, as well as to Madison County’s natural and historic resources.

Our Take

If the County wants to pursue this type of development, they should want to ensure future rural resort proposals are of the appropriate scale and that the community is afforded the necessary protections related to public health, safety and welfare. For example, a large emergency event associated with a “rural resort” could severely stress the County’s emergency and first response resources, which are currently adequate, but limited. There’s no reason to rush an ordinance change. Let’s make sure the County takes its time to get it right.

Which begs the question…what’s the rush? We are concerned that the County is fast-tracking this amendment to accommodate future applications. PEC is currently aware of one potential applicant that will seek approval for this use if the Board approves the amendment to the ordinance.

Please join us in asking the Board to reject the current proposal, or at the very least, postpone a decision to allow for the development of more definitive language related to the size, frequency of events and nature of the proposed use.

For more information on PEC’s thoughts and concerns, please view our recently submitted letter to the Planning Commission.

And as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.


Dan Holmes
Director of State Policy
The Piedmont Environmental Council