04/20/07 — County rejects request for tower

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County rejects request for tower

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 20, 2007 2:10 PM

Crown Castle International will not be building a new cellular telephone tower at its proposed location a mile-and-a-half south of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base after the Wayne County Board of Commissioners allowed the company's rezoning request to die when it declined to schedule a public hearing on the matter.

The request had been forwarded to the commissioners from the county planning board with an unfavorable recommendation.

"The planning board was concerned that if the (base's) mission was changed, this could be an encroachment," county planning director Connie Price said.

The tower was scheduled to stand 225 feet above the ground -- 10 feet below the maximum height recommendations from Seymour Johnson. Price also said that Air Force officials told the county they had no objections to the tower.

Still, he explained, the planning board was concerned that allowing the tower could eventually cause problems since it would have stood directly in the base's flight path.

If the proposed rezoning of the 100-square-foot area was allowed, it would have eliminated all of its height restrictions, which currently are at 35 feet.

For the commissioners it was an easy decision.

"It beats the current glide slope, but that's for normal operations. What happens tomorrow? What happens when there's a problem?" commissioner Andy Anderson said.

On the other hand, the American Legion Post 11's rezoning request is headed to a public hearing next month.

Hoping to take advantage of its 26 acres around Legion Lake on the east side of U.S. 117 South, the American Legion is asking to be allowed to create six spaces for use as a recreational vehicle campground -- without any sewer hookups.

The problem with the land, though, is that while it is outside the base's potential accident zone, there is the issue of noise from the jets flying overhead.

The commissioners also were concerned about allowing too much land use around the base.

"The only problem I have is when we were through two years ago trying to clear that area around Seymour Johnson, I'd hate to see us encroach in any way," commission chairman John Bell said.

Again, though, Price noted, base officials have told the county that they have no objections to a small campground -- as long as it doesn't turn into a mobile home park.

But all the Legion wants, Anderson explained, is a way for the numerous veterans who travel via RV, to stop and rest in Goldsboro for a few days.

"It gives a chance for them to come in, sit down for a couple of days and visit," he said. "They're not trying to set up a commercial type site."

In the end, the board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing at 9:15 a.m. on May 15 to discuss the Legion's request as a special use.

It also will consider allowing similar campgrounds in other areas, both with and without sewage hookups, but only as special uses, which are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

"I would like to see it as a special use so nothing slips by us," Anderson explained.

Additionally, the commissioners will hold a second public hearing on May 15 to discuss an amendment to the county's zoning laws to create a county Board of Adjustment to be the final arbiter on zoning issues.

It would be made up of the county commissioners and require a majority vote on any special use or zoning variance and a three-fourths majority vote to reverse any order, requirement, decision or determination of a zoning enforcement officer.

And finally, the commissioners held a public hearing to determine whether or not to close Amoco Drive -- a 545-foot long street between Bryan Boulevard and Buckhorn Road.

By closing the road, Price explained, the state Department of Transportation will no longer maintain it and will simply install a chain across both ends.

The goal is to prevent illegal parking and dumping.

The county owns all the adjoining land, which is in the 100-year flood plain, after purchasing it several years ago as part of a hazard mitigation buyout.