City says 'no' to more annexations ... for now
By Anessa Myers
Published in News on February 3, 2009 1:46 PM
James Rowe, right, planning services manager for the city of Goldsboro, and Sally Johnson, administrative assistant in the Planning Department, look over a map of the proposed Phase 12 annexation area, which includes areas north of Buck Swamp Road. City councilmen have said they do not plan to proceed with any annexation at present. The Legislature is reviewing current state annexation laws.
The Goldsboro City Council will hold off on annexations, for now.
Members decided Monday night they would put Phase 12, the current annexation area under review, on hold until further notice.
"I'm not going against annexation, but I think there is a right time for everything, and this isn't the right time to do this," Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Allen said. "I think we need to put annexation on hold."
Phase 12 includes an area north of Buck Swamp Road and the Marsh Landing, North Pointe, Morgan Trace, Tarklin Acres, North Creek, Buck Run, Canterbury Village, Pineview Acres and Lanetree Village subdivisions.
More than 1,200 residents along Buck Swamp and Salem Church roads were annexed into city limits in September after the city won a four-year court battle.
Allen said he could see the city trying to "close up some doughnut holes," of much smaller areas that are surrounded by city limits but not included, instead.
Phase 12 would cost the city $17.67 million in capital costs and $1.16 million in operating costs, as of now.
"To spend that kind of money at this point wouldn't be wise," he said.
Mayor Al King agreed.
"In these economic times, the way it is, I think it'd be best to hold off (on Phase 12 annexation)," he said.
The council said it also wanted to see what the state legislature was going to pass in association with annexation.
"I think it's prudent for us to say, 'Let's wait until the legislature decides what it wants to do,'" Allen said.
He added that he didn't want city officials to move forward with annexation procedures only to find out that the legislature put a moratorium on it.
Councilman Jackie Warrick said he wanted to wait, too.
"You don't know what the people in Raleigh are going to do," he said.
King said the city would hold off on annexation for right now, and talk about it in more detail at the City Council retreat in two weeks.
The council approved removing the annexation item from the agenda.
At its meeting Monday, the council also held six public hearings -- half of which residents spoke at -- and discussed condemnation of several dwellings.
The first was a hearing regarding a rezoning request by Kathy Woodard to change property located on the east side of Piedmont Airline Road between Ash Street and Stonehenge Drive from a residential zone to a light industry zone. A use for the property wasn't specified. No one spoke at the hearing.
Deborah Higgins also made a rezoning request to change property located on the south side of Simmons Street between North Slocumb Street and Leslie Street from general business to a residential conditional district to allow for a boarding or rooming house.
Ms. Higgins spoke on her behalf.
"We recently put $12,000 into that house," she said. "These places are for people who are down on their luck and need a place to stay. ... I think that we should have these places, and I think they need to be regulated."
She added that she would do whatever the city needed her to do to provide a regulated rooming or boarding house.
The third hearing was held on a request by the North Carolina Railroad Co. that portions of Atlantic Avenue be closed, at North William and North John streets and at North Jefferson Avenue.
Two people spoke at the hearing.
Charles Burnell Jr., vice president of real estate for the railroad company, said future growth of rail service made it necessary to look at the long-term and to maintain the railroad's corridor, which includes Atlantic Avenue.
The railroad company technically owns the land where the avenue is, but has let the city use it for some time.
Burnell said it is his job to "manage these encroachments" on the rail corridor -- or the amount of land the company owns on either side of the current railroad track, in this instance on Royall Avenue -- in case the company would want to add another track in the future.
"Borden Lofts (a project that would renovate the old Borden Mills into luxury lofts by a private company) encroaches into the North Carolina Railroad corridor," Burnell said.
Since the lofts project is a vital one to Goldsboro, Burnell said the company was looking into granting a permanent easement so the building could never be torn down at a later date by the railroad company.
"Protecting the corridor is crucial, and the N.C. Railroad Co. rarely gives an easement," he said.
But because the company understands the project and how it would help the city, he said the company would compromise by working out an agreement with a property owner down the line for an easement there.
"If the city abandons access to Atlantic Avenue now, the actual removal of the pavement will only occur when needed," he said. "And the North Carolina Railroad Co. will pay for the pavement and have an agreement with the city for utility access."
There are currently city water and sewer lines under Atlantic Avenue.
Gene Thomas of the Goldsboro Housing Authority also spoke.
He didn't want to see portions of Atlantic Avenue closed.
"Fairview development is a large housing development that abuts the street," he said.
He said that the housing authority had five concerns: getting fire and police to the development as easily without the street, a lack of parking if the street is closed since most residents park on that street, putting more traffic on Edgerton Street when baseball fields at Fairview Park are in use, limiting access to the parking lot by the westernmost baseball field and creating a dead end at Madison Avenue with no turnaround.
"We ask that the planning commission and City Council work to keep this frequently used road open to the public for use," Thomas said.
The fourth public hearing was held regarding the closing of Emmitt and Hood streets, since the city owns all of the lots abutting both streets.
One resident of the area spoke, telling the council he was in support of closing the streets.
The last two public hearings were held regarding amendments to city ordinances that would allow for an increase in sign area for properties on Ash Street and east of Jefferson Avenue from 10-square-feet to 32-square-feet, and would change the number of members of the Historic District Commission from nine members to seven members with two alternates. No one spoke at either hearing.
Council members also condemned six dilapidated dwellings at 1202 N. Center St., 309 Wayne Ave., 324 Whitfield Drive, 604 Simmons St., 2106 E. Elm St. and 502 S. Slocumb St. Funds for demolition of the dwellings have been appropriated.
The Goldsboro Planning Commission attended the council meeting and met briefly to discuss two items -- a preliminary subdivision plat for a 40-unit apartment complex called Randall Place Townhomes at the terminus of Randall Lane and adjacent to Ashebrook Apartments as well as preliminary plat and site and landscape plan for a Dollar General within the subdivision on the corner of U.S. 13 North and Tommy's Road.
The planning commission approved both, as did the City Council.
The council also approved moving $5,363.50 from municipal service district funds to the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. facade grant program to cover a special project submitted by a downtown business for work that would total more than $38,900. Council members also agreed to move funds from the municipal service district to an advertising campaign sponsored partly by the DGDC that would give downtown businesses a cheaper chance to advertise with PACC-10 for only $200 a month, but only if the DGDC would find enough businesses to do the campaign before starting it.
In other business, the council set a public hearing for closing a portion of North Center Street from West Holly Street to Royall Avenue for March 16, set a public hearing to change the name of Courtyard Circle to Day Circle for March 16, approved a contiguous annexation petition from Gateway Real Estate LLC on the northwest corner of Gateway Drive and Challen Court, approved the sale of city surplus property, approved board and commission appointments and approved several budget items.
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