06/03/04 — Proposed county agriculture districts ready for public reveiw

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Proposed county agriculture districts ready for public reveiw

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 3, 2004 2:00 PM

Wayne County is ready to unveil its proposed "voluntary agriculture districts" program for the public's review.

The county commissioners have called a hearing Tuesday, July 6, beginning at 9:15 a.m., to discuss the districts and to take comments. The hearing will be held in the commissioners' meeting room in the Wayne County Courthouse Annex.

Cooperative Extension Director Howard Scott predicts the program will be popular with the county's farm community. "We have some farmers who are ready to go," he said Tuesday.

The program has been slightly modified since it was first discussed last fall, but the basics remain the same.

Farmers and other agricultural land users could petition the county to place their land in agricultural districts. They would pay a small fee to have their land marked with roadside signs and included on maps in the county's deeds, planning and tax offices.

Any developer building a neighborhood within a quarter-mile of the districts would be required to note their presence on plans.

The program's goal is to ensure that people cannot buy property or homes in Wayne County and then be surprised to find out about the nearby turkey houses, hog nursery or timberland.

Scott told the commissioners that the program is not "a save-all for farmers." They still could have conflicts with neighbors, but the districts would help farmers feel comfortable doing normal agricultural practices, even if that means tending cotton fields at 11 p.m., he said.

The initial districts would be at least 100 acres, either contiguous or in three or fewer tracts within a half-mile of each other. Smaller farms in close proximity to these first districts could then be added.

To qualify, farmland must be identified as agricultural by the tax department, must be actively farmed over the past five years, and must abide by erosion-control practices where applicable.

The designation would not affect property taxes in any way. Landowners could pull out of the district by simply writing a letter to the advisory board overseeing the program.

Commissioners will need to set the fee for joining a district. Sampson County, which has a similar program, charges $25 for a 10-year period. Wayne County would need to charge enough to cover the cost of signs, Scott said.

Rezoning approved

Also Tuesday, the county board voted to rezone 2 acres at the intersection of Aviation Drive and Airport Road. The new "light industry" zoning will allow commercial development. The owner reportedly plans to build an office building and mini-storage units.

Commissioner Andy Anderson cast the only vote against the change.

A new master plan for the Goldsboro-Wayne Airport will be finished within the next few months, he said, adding that the commissioners should not be making zoning changes around the airport until they know the airport's long-range plans.

The airport's authority had reviewed the proposed land-use change and sent the commissioners a letter endorsing it.

Other business

The county commissioners received a draft copy of the 2004 Community Assessment from the Health Department. The report will be completed later this month.

The board awarded a $175,000 contract to T.A. Loving Co. for construction of a bar screen addition to the Genoa pump station. The company was the low bidder of three companies seeking the work.