12/02/08 — County weighs parking lot rules

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County weighs parking lot rules

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 2, 2008 1:46 PM

A proposal to require businesses in Wayne County with six or more parking spaces to have their parking lots paved drew criticism from some members of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners on Monday.

Jack Best and Andy Anderson questioned the wisdom of adding such a burden to already struggling small businesses.

"We don't want to start putting people out of business," Anderson said. "We are growing and want to plan for the future, but an economic downturn is the not a good time to start this. It would put them out of business. Right now, the way it stands, I could not vote for it."

Existing businesses would be "grandfathered" in and not have to meet the requirement as long as they do not change existing structures or property.

The proposal is part of an amendment to the county's parking lot ordinance that is intended to include rules regarding off-street parking and loading and unloading by trucks. It is based on a similar ordinance already in place in the city of Goldsboro.

The proposal would apply only to areas in the county where the county already has zoning in place. It would not apply to residential areas.

A public hearing last month on the proposal elicited comments from two small business owners whose comments mirrored those made by Anderson and Best on Monday.

Commissioners have not indicated when a vote will be taken on the proposal.

The parking lot plan was proposed by the county Planning Commission, whose members said their intention was to start preparing areas near the city for restrictions that likely would come as Goldsboro expands.

"We need to figure out a way to help small businesses that want to open," Best said. "There needs to be some way to give the small business owner a way that he does not have to meet these."

Best suggested increasing the threshold that would trigger the required paving.

"Six sounds too small to me," he said.

The proposal would establish the minimum and maximum number of parking spaces a business would be required to have. County Planner Connie Price said one goal is to avoid "seas of parking lots."

The proposal lists the number of spaces required based on use and type of business.

The amendment also looks at how vehicles are "stacked" at drive-through windows to prevent traffic from backing up into the street.

Another facet is interconnectivity among parking areas so that spaces could be shared by businesses.

Anderson wanted to know what would happen if the businesses were not compatible, such as a doctor's office and a business with a drive-through window.

Price said the Planning Board would still be able to grant a waiver so that the lots would not have to be shared.

Both Best and Anderson want the county to revisit the proposal and look for ways to simplify it and to ease the burden on small businesses.

Price pointed out that the city's requirements are more restrictive than the county's proposal.

Commissioner Sandra McCullen asked Price why the changes were needed.

Without the change, the county will not be in a position to deal with expected business growth, Price said. Commissioner Steve Keen and County Manager Lee Smith said the amendment also would help prepare for what happens when an area becomes commercialized -- areas referred to as "urban transition areas."

"As the city limits move out, and it will, it can prepare them for what is coming," Smith said.

For example, Price reminded commissioners of a proposed business zone along the new U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass that would help manage growth along that corridor.

Keen said that if a gravel road goes into an area, "it is gravel forever" even when business is brought in.

"We are trying to plan for that (growth)," he said.

Best said he was not questioning the need for some changes, but that small businesses already are strained.

"We need to make sure small businesses are protected," he said.