03/18/04 — Base zoning considered by commissioners

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Base zoning considered by commissioners

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 18, 2004 2:05 PM

The Wayne County commissioners began discussions Tuesday that could lead to thousands of acres being zoned for the first time.

The county board held a work session to review the county Planning Board's recommendations for high-noise areas around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's flight lines.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the commissioners discussed plans for a new animal shelter.

Because of the meeting's length, the commissioners did not talk in depth about the Planning Board's recommendations. But the county board is nearly certain to extend zoning. It also plans to require tougher building standards under the flight lines to cut down on noise.

Chairman Ken Gerrard hopes the board will quickly determine what it wants to do, present a plan before a public hearing and then act, he said.

The board is working against a June 4 deadline. That's the expiration date for the county's moratorium on new subdivisions in the high-noise areas.

Currently, the county has zoning for nearly 22 square miles around the base where the noise level typically is 65 decibels or more above normal. The Planning Board has asked that zoning go another half-mile out, which would make the total zoned area around 31 square miles, Planning Director Connie Price said.

Most of the newly zoned area has been recommended for RA-20 zoning, which allows agricultural uses and home construction with a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet or about a half-acre. Most subdivisions in rural areas are being built on that size lot or bigger now, Price said.

The Planning Board also called for all the county land around the flight lines to be placed in an "airport overlay district," which would further restrict development.

The district would prohibit new hotels, motels and homes of any type being built in the 80-decibel or higher areas. Residences would be allowed in other areas as long as they were built with noise-dampening materials that would filter out 25 to 35 decibels of outside noise.

Manufactured-home parks, day-care centers, schools and public assembly places would be prohibited throughout the district. Businesses would be allowed in some areas as long as they limited the number of people on the premises at any one time.

Animal shelter

Also Tuesday, the commissioners received the Wayne County Animal Control Task Force's recommendations for a new animal shelter.

Dr. Stan Griffith, a local veterinarian, recounted the task force's study of a report by the national Humane Society and its own research of other shelters. He is confident a modern shelter could be built within the recommended $1 million budget, he said.

The recommended site is part of 38 acres the county owns on Clingman Street near the old Wayne Community College campus and the city of Goldsboro's garage.

The shelter would ideally be enclosed like others the task force visited, Griffith said. That should eliminate any problems with noise bothering neighbors.

Much of the commissioners' discussion dealt with the role of local animal groups, such as WOOFF or the local Humane Society chapter, in the shelter.

Anyone may contribute money to the shelter's construction, County Manager Lee Smith said, but the county must be careful to maintain autonomy over shelter operations.

Many counties and cities have tried to involve an animal group in shelter operations and ended up in court, Smith added.

Task force chairman George Wolfe, a former commissioner, noted that New Hanover County, one of the counties visited, had tried to run a shelter jointly with its Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but the SPCA ultimately was forced to open its own shelter elsewhere.

County officials are tentatively planning to open the new shelter by summer 2005.

Other business

Also Tuesday, the commissioners did the following:

*Proclaimed April 18-24 the "Week of the Young Child" and encouraged all citizens to get involved in activities that improve the lives of children.

*Agreed to donate a tractor and bush hog to Waynesborough Park once the county buys replacement equipment.

*Petitioned the state to take over maintenance of Hyacinth Road, Orchid Row, Kristen Court, Bayview Point and Lakeshore Court, all of which are in the Raintree subdivision.

*Declared six Sheriff's Office vehicles, including a 1971 bus, surplus property, allowing them to be sold.

*Wrote off $15,500 of unpaid 1993 property taxes as bad debt.

The board met briefly behind closed doors to discuss an industrial prospect for the county. No action was taken.