07/14/04 — Planner criticized for zoning recommendation

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Planner criticized for zoning recommendation

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on July 14, 2004 1:59 PM

Wayne County's planning director was accused Tuesday night of pushing his own ideas, instead of the Planning Board's, for development in high-noise areas around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Joe Daughtery, a mobile home dealer, and Ed Wharton both came to the board's meeting to question Connie Price's handling of the proposed zoning and development rules.

Daughtery said the Planning Board had reached a fair compromise last month that would protect the public but not make it too difficult or expensive to develop in the high-noise areas.

But when the commissioners received those recommendations, Price also included his suggestions, one of which the board adopted, Daughtery added.

The Planning Board had said that in areas with average noise levels above 65 decibels, new construction should be designed and built to reduce the interior noise level to below 60 decibels.

The commissioners later informally agreed with Price's suggestion that in the high-noise areas, new construction should lower noise to an average of 40 decibels.

Wharton, a Republican candidate for Wayne County commissioner, said that Price had acted improperly by pushing his own recommendations rather than the board's.

"If I were a member of the Planning Board, I'd be upset about that," he said.

But Price replied that the commissioners had wanted to see all options.

Planning Board member Chris Cox said that he was aware of the change and that he was prepared to speak for the board's version. "That's what the public hearing is for," he said.

Since December, the county has been considering new rules that would make it tougher to develop in high-noise areas around the base and under areas of high jet traffic.

The commissioners have reached an informal consensus on a proposal to rezone nearly 20 square miles and establish zoning for the first time on another seven square miles. The county would also adopt new construction guidelines to reduce noise.

The commissioners won't officially act until after the public hearing. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, in the historic Courtroom 1, Wayne County Courthouse.