11/23/07 — Commission approves request for rezoning

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Commission approves request for rezoning

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 23, 2007 2:03 PM

Finally deciding an issue that has hung around for several weeks, the Wayne County Board of Commis-sioners voted this week to rezone 19.4 acres along the corner of U.S. 70 and N.C. 581.

The request was made by Jack Smith, owner of 11 of those acres.

At the public hearing on Nov. 9, he explained that his goal was to enhance the value of his property by getting the zoning changed from residential/agriculture to community shopping.

"It looked to me like the land would be worth more to me, to my heirs and even to the county if you had more options," he said. "To me, it looked like a plan with no minuses."

However, because of his property's proximity to several residential areas, the county Planning Board recommended that it be changed to village district, which allows for both residential and commercial uses, but on a more limited basis.

It was a recommendation that Smith did not protest.

Then, for the other 8.4 acres -- across from the new Rosewood Wal-Mart and separated from Smith's property by a proposed DOT service road -- the planning board recommended that it be zoned community shopping.

In approving the proposal, the commissioners' only concern was their ability to control driveway access onto U.S. 70 and N.C. 581.

"We know traffic is bad out there already," Commissioner Andy Anderson said. "I think we need to plan for the highway safety out there."

County Planning Director Connie Price reassured the board that any driveway access points would have to be approved by the state Department of Transportation before development could begin.

The other piece of information discussed by the commissioners Tuesday was the new employee wellness program.

In place since fiscal year 2003-04, county human resources director Sue Guy explained that the program has helped Wayne save a significant amount of money -- about $1 million through the health care plan alone in 2006-07.

It's also contributed to about 70 percent of the $400,000 savings in the county's worker's compensation payments.

She explained that the program, which focuses on exercise and nutrition, also requires employees to participate in two wellness events a year and to have an annual physical in order for the county to pick up their monthly premiums.

"We are trying to encourage people to get out and move more, and we are trying to get folks to make better nutritional choices," county health education specialist Carolyn King said. "It's all about trying to get the employees to take more ownership over their health care."