02/21/07 — Airport zoning changes approved

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Airport zoning changes approved

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 21, 2007 1:48 PM

Despite protests and concerns expressed by nearly two dozen speakers, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved rezoning land around the Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport to support the airport's expected growth.

One of the county commissioners' concerns Tuesday morning was to make a decision before the airport's development moratorium ends the first week of March.

The six-month moratorium began in September to halt development and allow the county's planning department to create a zoning plan that would prevent future development from impeding the airport's growth.

Since the moratorium ends March 5 and the commissioners have canceled their March 6 meeting, County Attorney Borden Parker told commissioners they would either have to approve the plan Tuesday or call a special meeting before the moratorium expires.

The plan, which affects about 2,800 property owners, would change the zones in and around the airport. Those zoning changes would prevent residential development from encroaching near the airport's runway.

That runway is currently 5,500 feet, but airport officials want to expand that to 9,000 feet over the next 20 years.

To conform to those plans, most of the airport's property and the airport's flight path are now zoned light industry. That zone stretches from Big Daddy's Road on the north to Stoney Hill Road on the south.

The zoning plan also creates pockets of airport zones near the airport. Those pockets are located near the southern part of Airport Road, Stoney Hill Road, a strip of land between Mount Carmel Church Road and Combs Road and at the intersection of Airport and Mount Carmel Church roads.

Another change includes height restrictions surrounding the airport and extending along the airport's flight path almost to the county line.

The height restrictions expand to the east into Pikeville, to the west to the intersection of Saulston and Coley Road and to the south to the proposed U.S. 70 bypass.

Around the airport, developers are not allowed to build a structure 150 feet above the airport's ground level. That height limitation increases the farther a development is from the airport.

Many of the residents who spoke Tuesday morning did not understand how the zoning change would affect their neighborhoods. Others were frustrated that they would be limited in how much they could develop on their property.

In the light industry zoned areas, "any property owner of record as of Sept. 5, 2006, of a tract of land that has an existing residential unit may have one additional residential unit per existing tract provided that the existing tract is a minimum of two acres in size," according to the plan.

Also, the plan says "any property owner of record as of Sept. 5, 2006, of a vacant tract of property may have one residential unit per existing tract provided that the tract is a minimum of one acre in size."

Airport Road resident Kenneth Wilder said he owns five acres and he will only be able to develop one more home on his entire tract. Danny Blizzard also said he might want to build more on his property for his children, but the new plan could limit what he can do.

Donald Peele said he believes the county's plan will devalue the land of all of the residents involved.

Planning Director Connie Price had suggested the commissioners hear all of the public's concerns and then decide what action to take. Although the board approved the plan, it did make concessions for some of the residents' concerns.

David Hollowell, the pastor of Mount Carmel United Methodist Church, said his church is currently zoned light industry and would change to airport zone under the new plan. Neither zone allows for churches, which would prevent the church from expanding in the future. The commissioners approved changing the zoning in the vicinity of the church to residential so that the church could be expanded in coming years.

The commissioners also said the planning department can consider limited residential development in the new light industry zone, but those plats must be approved by the board.