09/07/08 — Wayne County Commission considering a new highway zoning ordinance

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Wayne County Commission considering a new highway zoning ordinance

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 7, 2008 11:50 AM

The first section of the new U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass could one day be included in a new type of county zoning.

For now the "highway zone" is only a concept. There is no timetable for its implementation and there are no plans to zone any highway, County Manager Lee Smith said.

The bypass, scheduled to be built in four phases, will start at N.C. 581 northwest of Goldsboro and tie back into the existing U.S. 70 near LaGrange. It also includes a "retrofit" of the existing U.S. 70 to make safety improvements.

Work could get under way by the end of the month on the first stretch of the bypass -- a 3.91-mile, four-lane divided highway north of Goldsboro between I-795 and Wayne Memorial Drive. It includes interchanges at I-795, U.S. 117 and Wayne Memorial Drive. Completion is expected by Dec. 31, 2011 on the $65.5 million project.

The focus of the proposed zone are safety issues and protecting the appearance of a highway corridor.

One such issue, Smith said, is working to ensure that multiple developments have a single entrance/exit to prevent so many driveways.

That, he said, would reduce "conflict points."

"We are not doing some sort of an (zoning) overlay," he said. "It is a zone that could be used so that if we find areas that need to be zoned that way it could be established and done, but right now we don't have one."

Smith said it is a zone type similar to one utilized by Goldsboro.

"Really what drove this discussion was the comprehensive land use plan," Smith said. "Some highway segments we talked about need some sort of planning efforts on corridors like U.S. 70, I-795, U.S. 117, U.S. 13 and N.C. 55 to protect those areas. It's also for appearance's sake because they are our main corridors and that is what people see when they come through."

He said, "What will happen very quickly with some of these roads is they become, as the U.S. 70 Corridor Commissions call them, boulevards with lots and lots of driveways, lots of entrance and exit points off of the road and they become very dangerous."

"Right now we do not have one (zone) established or no plan to say this stretch of highway will be in this zone," Smith said.

Should the county add such a zone, the planning board has to make recommendations to commissioners to zone any property. A public hearing would be required and people in the affected area notified.

"There are no plans to zone U.S. 70," Smith said. "I don't think that was the intention. The intention was to look at segments of the corridors that might be able to utilize this particular zone. There are areas on the corridor that may be extremely rural so there is really no need for it."

Since the new bypass will be a limited-access highway, the zoning could be used at interchanges outside municipal jurisdiction.

Smith said the county wants input from developers.

"What are the impacts to development if this was to be in place," he said. "What will it cost a developer? Are they going to have to put in some other type of driveway? We want to know what kind of economic impact it could have."

He added, "We want to mesh with municipalities, too. As they grow and move out and their jurisdiction moves out I think we are trying to move to our zones being similar. So for example an R20 is an R20. There may be a few finer differences, but they are very similar so when you have the growth that moves out there is not a big shock."

Smith also said he had been asked if this a step to zone entire county.

"Absolutely not," he said. "This is basically just a zone to have available. Sometimes we get these requests from developers themselves."