04/07/04 — County sets zoning hearing on changes to protect base

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County sets zoning hearing on changes to protect base

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 7, 2004 2:07 PM

Wayne County residents will have a chance next month to speak about a proposal to make it tougher and more expensive to build near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The county commissioners agreed Tuesday to call a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20. It will be held in the large courtroom on the second floor of the Wayne County Courthouse.

The hearing could draw a large crowd because the proposed changes in zoning would affect more than 3,000 property owners, who will be receiving notices by mail in the next month.

The county is also planning to publish a map in the News-Argus.

The commissioners agreed on a new zoning map to present at the hearing. It would extend zoning around the base and its flight lines to more than 30 square miles.

The map would set "airport zoning" for most of the land, where aircraft traffic causes an average noise level of 65 decibels or more above normal. That zone would only allow one house per acre.

Commissioner Arnold Flowers said that was too restrictive. He feels the zoning should be set at "R-30," which allows one house per 30,000 square feet, around three-quarters of an acre.

Regardless of zoning, the proposed rules include an "airport overlay district," which will prohibit homes, churches, schools and businesses with high customer traffic in many areas with high noise or potential for accidents. In other areas, noise-dampening materials would be required in construction.

Flowers was the only commissioner to vote against the map. The commissioners' decision, though, was not final. They will be able to make changes after the hearing.

The commissioners are likely to vote that night. The board voted in December to suspend all new subdivision development around the base; that moratorium is scheduled to end in early June and the commissioners want to have the new rules in place.

The map covers properties owned by 2,858 county residents, County Attorney Borden Parker said. An additional 175 property owners live outside the county.