Mercury Payton

Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton (2019 photo by Adam Kincaid)

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Owing to the ongoing pandemic, Vienna Town Council members on Jan. 4 unanimously extended until July 4 a pair of emergency zoning ordinances that had been set to expire at month’s end.

One of the emergency ordinances, originally adopted Sept. 4 last year and readopted Oct. 5, allows Town Manager Mercury Payton to issue temporary outdoor operations permits to businesses. The town manager also may waive regulations regarding signage and conditional-use permits.

The measure is designed to provide an “expedited and streamlined process to institutions with limited administrative burden,” town officials said.

Businesses still must comply with Gov. Northam’s executive orders pertaining to the pandemic, as well as health and fire precautions dictated by the state and local governments. The companies also have to supply the town government with a diagram of their proposed outdoor operations.

The emergency ordinance applies to businesses that currently are operating, have certificates of occupancy for their current uses and are located in places where they may conduct business either by-right or using existing conditional-use permits.

The second emergency ordinance the Council extended Jan. 4 waives zoning restrictions to allow child day-care facilities to operate in commercial and industrial zones.

Town code usually allows child day-care centers and “family day homes” only in residentially zoned areas. Such facilities serving seven or fewer children need a home-occupation permit; those catering to more children must obtain a conditional-use permit.

The emergency ordinance applies only to businesses already approved to operate in commercial and industrial zones. The town manager is allowed to issue temporary emergency day-care permits in those zones, provided applicants have current, valid business licenses; child day-care licenses from the Virginia Department of Social Services; diagrams depicting the on-site locations for parking and drop-off/pick-up areas.

Payton also may waive code provisions pertaining to child-care activities inside or outside of wholly enclosed buildings, as well as signage, parking, requirements for amended certificates of occupancy and required reviews by the Board of Architectural Review.

Town officials so far have not received any applications for day-care facilities in industrial and commercial zones, possibly because the applicable regulations are “cumbersome,” said Deputy Planning and Zoning Director Michael D’Orazio.

Council member Howard Springsteen recommended extending the emergency ordinance anyway.

“I don’t think it hurts to continue to have it,” he said.

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