06/02/04 — County extends development moratorium around base

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County extends development moratorium around base

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 2, 2004 2:04 PM

Developers will need to wait before they can break ground for new homes around Seymour Johnson's flight lines.

The Wayne County commissioners voted Tuesday to extend the moratorium on new subdivisions and mobile home parks another 90 days. The ban, which covers 27 square miles, had been scheduled to expire today.

The county board did agree to allow exemptions for a few neighborhoods that have already had preliminary plans approved by the Wayne County Planning Board. Those developers will now be allowed to seek final approval and, receiving that, to build.

Planning Director Connie Price said that the exemption would bring three projects out of limbo. But only one -- Marion Point, which would be built off N.C. 111 by Wilson Grading -- is expected to go immediately to the Planning Board for final approval.

The commissioners also voted to revise zoning changes and new development rules that had been proposed for the high-noise areas. That package met with much opposition at a public hearing last month.

The Planning Board will review the proposal, probably at its meeting next Tuesday. The commissioners plan to hold another public hearing, most likely in July or August, before they vote.

The commissioners admitted Tuesday that the May 20 hearing had raised issues they hadn't considered. They are now generally willing to make these compromises:

*Allow current mobile home parks to replace homes as tenants leave, as long as the incoming homes are at least as solidly built as the ones they replace.

*Give mobile-home owners the same right to upgrade without having to install noise-dampening materials.

*Allow churches to expand without having to use soundproofing materials, as long as the value of the new construction is less than half the value of the existing building.

*Require noise-dampening materials only within areas that average 65 decibels or greater. The county had planned to make all construction up to a half mile outside the 65-decibel contour comply.

The Planning Board will still be asked for its input on some potential problems, officials said.

For example, some subdivisions may have had five phases built and two more phases were somewhere in the planning stages. The developer then found out that the county is proposing to rezone the undeveloped land, Commissioner Andy Anderson said. "That's going to be a hot issue; we need to decide where we're going to draw the line."

What if a person owns less than an acre in an area zoned for lots that are required to be larger than one acre? asked Commissioner Arnold Flowers.

Those people would have the option of going to the county Board of Adjustment and seeking a waiver, Connie Price answered.

Commissioner John Bell asked if the county might owe compensation to landowners who lose some use of their property.

County Attorney Borden Parker replied, "You can buy any land that you can afford," a remark that drew widespread laughter.

But County Manager Lee Smith added that there may be some state money available for farmland preservation. Much of the land under the flightlines is still being farmed and could qualify.

The Planning Board's meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Administration Building, 209 S. William St.