04/05/05 — New ordinance changes include shutting down nightclub spotlight

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New ordinance changes include shutting down nightclub spotlight

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 5, 2005 1:48 PM

The Goldsboro City Council agreed Monday night to a sweeping overhaul of the city's rules on new construction.

The Unified Development Ordinance is intended to change how neighborhoods, shopping centers and offices are built, landscaped and maintained.

It also will limit development around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

But the most striking, immediate change will be what residents will no longer see in the night sky. The ordinance turns Goldsboro's spotlight into a not-light. City officials planned to send a cease-and-desist letter today to the owner of Sid's Showgirls and the Playground, telling him to dim the spotlight advertising the topless dance club on North William Street.

The ordinance empowers the city to fine the club owner up to $250 a day if he refuses to comply.

City Council members expressed relief at finally reaching a solution to the spotlight problem, a frequent source of citizens' complaints.

Chuck Allen jokingly offered to deliver the letter himself if he could figure out a way to keep his vehicle from be seen in the parking lot.

"Joe, can I borrow your car? You're new in town," Allen said, talking to new City Manager Joe Huffman.

"No, sir, no sir!," Huffman replied, laughing.

On a more serious note, Allen said that the ordinance had gone through a lot of changes, particularly following public hearings and input over the last year.

"I hear people say all the time that we come into meetings with our minds made up. This shows that is not true, and that we do listen," Allen said.

The most controversial aspect of the ordinance had to do with the new restrictions on development around Seymour Johnson.

The city will no longer allow new residences in areas with average noise levels over 75 decibels, new churches in areas averaging over 70 decibels, and new hospitals, nursing homes, schools and day care centers in areas with noise levels over 65 decibels.

Homes, businesses and other buildings that are already in the high-noise areas can stay. In many cases, they could be rebuilt, replaced or even expand.

The city will bar many of the businesses inside the accident-potential zones at the end of the base's runway from rebuilding or expanding. That will mainly affect businesses along a section of U.S. 70 East.

Other changes in the ordinance include:

*All commercial projects over four acres or that border residential property will now have to submit lighting plans. The city will review how lights are to be mounted on poles or inside canopies so that neighboring properties are not affected by glare or light pollution.

*Large retail projects will be required to provide outdoor spaces, such as public areas with benches and tables, or amenities such as fountains.

*More extensive landscaping will be required around developments. For the first time, the city will enforce buffer maintenance, meaning the builders cannot simply plant trees and shrubs and then allow them to die.

*City zoning has been streamlined. Some zoning categories have been combined. New maps will be color-coded and easier to read.

*Most businesses will be required within a year to screen dumpsters on all four sides, including a gate. The only exceptions permitted will be if the screening would make it impossible for a garbage truck to service the dumpster.

*The city tightened its sign regulations, including a ban on most off-premise signs, such as the ones often seen in the public right-of-way at intersections. Real-estate agents will be allowed to put out "open-house" signs for a maximum of three days.

*The city, which had been able to fine people $50 for violating ordinances, can now fine first-time offender $50 per day per violation and repeat offenders up to $250 per day per violation.

The Unified Development Ordinance was discussed for five years, most intensely over the past 12 months, before it was adopted unanimously by the City Council. It will go into effect immediately.