11/06/06 — Residents can offer input on rezoning

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Residents can offer input on rezoning

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 6, 2006 1:46 PM

A land dispute among Wayne County, Case Farms and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is close to being resolved, which would allow Case Farms to expand its operations in the future.

But before the Wayne County Board of Commissioners approves the company's rezoning request, local residents can voice their concerns and opinions during one of two public hearings Tuesday morning.

Case Farms is requesting that about 20 acres of its property on the northern side of Pecan Road at its intersection with Mitchell Road be rezoned from light industry and airport zones to heavy industry so the company can build another plant.

The only zone in the county's zoning ordinance that allows food product manufacturing is heavy industry. Case Farms' existing plant is zoned heavy industry, but its newly purchased property for another plant isn't, Wayne County Planning Director Connie Price said.

Due to its proximity to Seymour Johnson, base officials were asked to review the rezoning request before the planning board made its recommendation to the county commissioners.

Seymour Johnson officials were concerned with the land's proximity to the base's accident potential zone. The accident potential zone is 3,000 feet wide and 15,000 feet long, and it is divided into three sections.

When the Base Realignment and Closure commission considers the movement of military bases, such as Seymour Johnson, officials consider the percentage of nonconforming zones and how land is used around military bases.

In the accident potential zone section that coincides with the Case Farms zoning request, Wayne County's nonconforming zone percentage is 4.89 percent, which is acceptable to Seymour Johnson and BRAC officials. Rezoning Case Farms' property to heavy industry would increase the nonconforming zone to 5.5 percent, which would be unsatisfactory for the base and the county, Price said.

If the Case Farms land is rezoned to a new airport industry zone, Price said the plant could expand and keep development and aircraft safe in the base's accident potential zone.

Amending the county's zoning ordinance to include the new airport industry zone is also on the agenda for Tuesday's commissioner meeting. That public hearing will be held before residents are given the opportunitry to speak on the Case Farms issue.

The proposed airport industry zone only allows some industrial and agricultural uses or any other development that complies with the Wayne County Noise Overlay Design Manual and the county's Airport Overlay District.

Some of these uses include printing, communications, utilities, low-intensity parks and construction companies, livestock, forestry and automotive sales.

Public hearings begin at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse. Any resident interested in speaking for or against the issue can speak directly to the commissioners during the hearings.

County commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. but are preceded by a briefing session that begins at 8 a.m.