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Kalahari provisions OK'd
Waterpark moves forward with Fredericksburg City Council and Planning Commission.

Date published: 5/26/2010


BY EMILY BATTLE


Fredericksburg’s City Council and Planning Commission approved a number of planning provisions for the proposed Kalahari resorts project in Celebrate Virginia last night after a rare joint public hearing before the two boards.

Measures that will allow Kalahari to exceed the city’s 90-foot building height, construct an LED readout sign on Interstate 95, share parking with the Expo Center and reroute one of the proposed roads through Celebrate Virginia all got unanimous approval from the City Council last night.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of all of the planning measures minutes before the council vote. All passed on unanimous votes except for the special exception for the Interstate sign.

That sign is proposed to be up to 170 feet tall, facing only the southbound lanes of the interstate. It will have a large LED screen that has the capacity to show video; however, federal highway rules won’t allow it to be used to play video, and the sign’s message will not be able to change any more frequently than every five seconds.

Commissioner Vic Ramoneda cast the only vote against the measure to allow the sign. Commissioner Berkley Mitchell was absent from the meeting.

The sign was the only measure that drew criticism during the public hearing.

Kitty Farley—one of three speakers at the hearing—urged the council not to grant the special exception to its ordinance’s ban on LED signs. Farley asked how the council could say no to future developers if it said yes to this sign.

Planning Commission Chairman Roy McAfee said he didn’t want to see signs like this one popping up all over the city. “I’ve driven through Gatlinburg and I certainly am not amorous of their forest of signs there,” McAfee said. “I would hate to see that happen here.”

City Attorney Kathleen Dooley said the signs can be allowed only with a special exception to the zoning ordinance from the council. Those exceptions are supposed to be reserved for “extraordinary” uses that the city doesn’t anticipate seeing a lot of.

Council members passed the sign measure, along with all the others, with no comment.


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