02/22/05 — Large crowd protests possible restrictions around base

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Large crowd protests possible restrictions around base

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 22, 2005 2:32 PM

More than 100 people packed the Goldsboro City Council's chambers for hearings Monday night, many coming to protest parts of the proposed unified development ordinance.

Eleven people spoke against the ordinance, primarily how it would restrict development in high noise areas around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. As written, the ordinance would bar some mobile home park owners from replacing tenants as they moved homes out.

"I don't see why with the stroking of a pen you could put me out of business," said Don Edwards, who owns a mobile home park on Sheridan Forest Road.

"This could result in the loss of a business that we've worked to build for 40 years," said Kay Casey, co-owner of another Sheridan Forest park.

Others believe that churches should be exempt from the high-noise rules.

Lillian Jarman, who pastors Adamsville Baptist Church with her husband, said the ordinance would prohibit her church from expanding or rebuilding on property it already owns.

The council won't vote on the ordinance before March, and Mayor Al King assured the protesters that changes would be made.

"We're not here to hurt you," King said. "We're here to move the city forward, and you're part of the city."

Wayne County commissioners had similar protests last year as they considered rezoning property around the base and toughening building codes. Even though the county has not yet passed those regulations, the commissioners have agreed to "grandfather" in existing mobile home parks. That means they will be allowed to replace homes as tenants move out.

The county also will exempt existing churches from the noise rules as they rebuild or expand.

Several speakers asked the City Council to give the same consideration when it approves the unified development ordinance, which will consolidate and streamline all the city's rules and regulations regarding development.

"We need to recognize the differences between new projects and existing buildings," said Charles Norwood, of Ridgewood Drive.

The ordinance would change the rules for subdivisions that are currently being built and have approved master plans, Norwood said. "Is it really important to have sidewalks in Phase 2 of a neighborhood when there weren't sidewalks in Phase 1?"

He commended the city for wanting to encourage developers to plant trees and leave open space in their neighborhoods, but those items drive up the builders' costs. That could cause even more developers to move out outside the city, where most of the growth is now.

"That's just a hard economic fact," he said.

George Foss, who owns property on U.S. 70 East, says that the city's existing zoning is unfair, even before the ordinance would tighten it around the base.

Zoning has prevented Foss from locating a fast-food restaurant, an auto parts store and a home improvement warehouse on his land, he said.

"I don't believe the Constitution was written so that six to ten men can tell a person what he can or cannot do with his property," Foss said.

He noted the possibility that the Base Realignment and Closure Commission could recommend this year that Seymour Johnson be downsized or closed. "Maybe we need to wait until BRAC even decides if we'll even have a base," he said.

The Goldsboro Planning Commission will review the ordinance at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The council could consider it at its March 7 meeting.