01/28/05 — City zoning proposal would ban search light at William Street club

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City zoning proposal would ban search light at William Street club

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on January 28, 2005 2:04 PM

The search light that sweeps across the skies over Wayne County each night, beckoning people to a William Street nightclub, may soon be outlawed by the Goldsboro City Council.

Once the sun goes down, the William Street light begins cutting a swath through the darkness. It is visible for miles as people approach or leave the city.

The light is so well known that the nightclub owner uses it to give directions to future employees. An advertisement for dancers at the club instructs them to "follow the search light."

The new zoning ordinance calls for the discontinuation of "civil defense style search lights and other fixtures that project an intense beam of light skyward."

The light would be outlawed immediately if the ordinance were approved by the council next month.

City Planning Director Randy Guthrie presented the changes for the new ordinance Thursday during a public informational meeting at City Hall.

Guthrie says that the city put lighting standards in the new ordinance because there was a problem in Goldsboro with "light pollution."

"This is a major change, but light pollution is impacting residential properties," Guthrie said. "The city has received a lot of calls and complaints about lights."

The proposed regulation would also require commercial projects built next to residential areas to have detailed lighting plans.

Guthrie said that all commercial development would have to comply with lighting standards, but only the larger developments would actually have to submit plans.

Existing commercial developments would not have to comply unless the city received complaints.

If the city determined that an existing development's lighting is a "nuisance," then the property owner will have to make lighting adjustments.

Besides the lighting requirements, other major changes in the ordinance include the review process for developments, landscaping, parking, noise overlay and regulations for signs.

To streamline the review process for subdivision site plans, several residential zoning districts were combined. The city has also added a holding zone for newly annexed areas, or land within its extra-territorial jurisdiction.

"The holding zone gives the city more time to do an in-depth zoning analysis before deciding on a permanent zone," Guthrie explained.

Other requirements if the ordinance passes:

*Developers will be held to a higher standard regarding landscape requirements, and will have to preserve existing vegetation where possible.

*Dumpsters will have to be screened on four sides, with one side having an opaque gate. Loading areas and outdoor storage areas will also have to meet more stringent screening regulations.

*The city will also require sidewalks for all streets in new developments.

"Sidewalks are an important commodity," Guthrie said. "We have received so many phone calls in appreciation of the sidewalks being installed on Ash Street."

Guthrie said that the city would try to connect future commercial developments by shared parking lots and connecting driveways.

"The interconnectivity of parking lots is an important thing," Guthrie said, "because now you often have to go out on a main road just to get to the building beside where you are."

The regulations governing permanent signs in the city won't change much, but there will be stricter standards on temporary signs and banners.

Property owners will have a year to comply with the changes to dumpsters and screening requirements.

The new ordinance also defines a noise overlay district for the city, extending east from the base's main runway and following the flight path.

It would affect a large portion of the southeastern section of the city.

The noise overlay district would prohibit manufactured homes, day-care centers, schools and churches.

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

There are several noise zones defined in the ordinance, including 65 to 70 decibels, 70 to 75 decibels, 75 to 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.

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.

A public hearing, giving citizens a chance to voice their opinions on the proposed ordinance, will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in city hall.