01/05/05 — County extends development moratorium

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County extends development moratorium

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on January 5, 2005 2:06 PM

Property owners around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will have one last chance next month to speak on proposed changes in how they can develop their land. They will also have to wait longer before they can proceed with any development plans.

The Wayne County commissioners voted Tuesday to call a third and final public hearing on a package of new or more restrictive zoning for high-noise areas around the base.

The board also decided to extend the moratorium on new subdivisions and mobile home parks around the base. It was set to expire Jan. 18, but it now is in place until April 5. The commissioners intend to vote on the zoning in March.

The hearing will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Courtroom 1 in the Wayne County Courthouse.

The county board expects a large crowd. More than 2,000 properties would be affected, and more than 100 people attended each of the previous hearings, also held in the large historic courtroom.

Over the last year, county officials have discussed ways to restrict what is built in areas with high noise or accident potential from jet traffic in and out of the base. Any changes would only affect land outside the city of Goldsboro's jurisdiction.

The current proposal would affect about 26 square miles. New residences would no longer be allowed in areas with noise levels averaging more than 75 decibels, although other construction would be.

Land that is not now zoned would typically be zoned R-20, which allows one home per half-acre. Some areas now zoned R-20 would be changed to R-30, which requires almost three-quarters of an acre per home.

Developers in areas with average noise above 65 decibels would be required to design construction to limit outside noise from filtering inside. Typically, they would need to use materials such as solid-core doors and eliminate openings such as fireplaces.

Joe Nassef, the county's building inspections chief, told the commissioners Tuesday that windows will be the biggest issue. Builders may need to limit the number of windows, use special glass that doesn't transmit noise, or both, he said.

Commissioner Jack Best asked how this would increase the cost of development.

"I just inspect them; I don't pay for them," Nassef replied.

Planning Director Connie Price does not expect to see much of a cost rise, he said. Most of the changes would be minor.

For example, Price checked the proposed standards against a house that was already under construction in the Indian Springs area. All that developer would have needed to do to comply would have been to redesign the foundation vents, he said.

The county's planning office would provide builders with a list of materials that are proven to reduce noise. The planning and inspections offices would ensure that developers were using the proven methods, but county inspectors would not use noise meters to check the finished buildings.

The commissioners also asked Price whether the moratorium on new neighborhoods was holding up developers. He said that he knows of one subdivision that's in the planning stages and unable to proceed, he said.

The commissioners first approved the moratorium in December 2003 for a six-month period. It has now been extended three times.