07/20/04 — Mobile-home dealers object to city's base zoning plan

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Mobile-home dealers object to city's base zoning plan

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on July 20, 2004 1:58 PM

Goldsboro's attempt to restrict development around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base by implementing a noise ordinance raised support and opposition at Monday's council meeting.

The noise overlay district, as defined by the city, extends east from the base's main runway and follows the flight path. It would affect a large portion of the southeastern section of the city.

The new district would prohibit manufactured homes, day-care centers, schools and churches. This led to opposition from a pastor and mobile home dealers.

Existing mobile home parks can stay in the zone, but cannot expand and cannot be replaced.

There are several noise zones defined in the ordinance, including 65-70 decibels, 70-75 decibels, 75-80 decibels and 80-plus decibel. Single-family homes, motels and recreational areas would not be allowed in the 75-80 decibels or 80-plus decibel area.

New construction in the zone would have to meet noise-reduction standards, reducing noise by up to 25 percent.

Property owners selling property in the district would have to provide notification on deeds, plats and site plans that the property is exposed to aircraft noise potentially in excess of 65 decibels.

The city used information from the Air Installation Compatibility Use Zone study, completed several years ago, to come up with requirements for the new district. The study from the base gives local leaders planning recommendations.

Jimmy Edmundson, chairman of the county Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Commission, thanked the council for creating the noise district.

Joining Edmundson in the audience were several rows of people from the Military Affairs Commission and the Seymour Support Council, supporting the ordinance.

"This is important for the safety and welfare for potential buyers," Edmundson said. "It's very easy for someone to visit on weekend when there's no training and find out later it's a high-noise zone."

Edmundson said that protecting the base was extremely important.

"If the base left, there would be 30 to 40 percent vacancy in apartments, all at one time," he said.

Joe Daughtery, a mobile home dealer, said he supported the base, but thought that there was a distortion of the facts.

Daughtery referred to a copy of an engineering report addressed to County Manager Lee Smith, which he said didn't recommend the high level of change that the city was requiring in its ordinance.

"I object strenuously to over-regulation," he said. "I have no problem with the district, just with burdensome regulations."

Daughtery said the Air Force was following the North Carolina building code while renovating and building new homes on the base.

"That reduces it approximately 20 decibels," he said. "Is it fair to ask our citizens to have more than what the federal government requires?"

Christopher Hollis, representing the North Carolina Manufacturing Institution, objected to the ban of mobile homes.

"Our homes are being built to HUD standards," he said, referring to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency. "They meet or exceed the standards."

David Quick, retired from the Air Force, said he had seen too many instances around the country where this issue had arisen. Quick said that people in mobile home parks complained about the noise, and the base's mission was inhibited.

When it came time for base closure, he said, the base left.

"I strongly encourage this be enacted," Quick said.

Pete Williams, the pastor at Harvest Fellowship Church, reminded the council of a federal law that doesn't allow churches to be discriminated against regarding land use.

Chuck Easton said he didn't know why the city councilmembers were concerned about the noise now, since the study had been completed several years before, and said that they didn't even know if the base would be here next year.

Easton, who lives in the extra-territorial jurisdiction area of the city, didn't know why he had received information about the hearing, and thought that he might have been unknowingly annexed into the city. (In the ETJ, people are governed by city zoning ordinances but do not pay city taxes.)

"I'm not in the city," he said. "Why am I here?"

Mayor Al King replied by saying, "Sir, if you don't know why you're here, I don't know why you're here."

Kay Casey, co-owner of Casey's Country Court on Sheridan Forest Road, said she thought the base was "absolutely wonderful."

"But we own a mobile home park and under this zoning, it would be worthless," she said.

Mrs. Casey said she also thought that if a mobile home was moved, that the park owners should be able to replace it with one of similar values.

She thanked the councilmembers for their time and said that they were "much better than the county commissioners."

King said that the issues she had raised were ones that the council was discussing.

Ed Wharton urged the city to readjust its ordinance regarding the mobile home parks and the churches.

Don Edwards, an owner of a mobile home park, said he supported the base but didn't think it was right not to compensate property owners who wouldn't be able to develop their land.

"We're taking the hit," he said.

The Planning Commission will have a recommendation for the council on the noise overlay district ordinance at the Aug. 2 council meeting.