03/20/09 — County discusses property rights, zoning

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County discusses property rights, zoning

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 20, 2009 1:46 PM

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A dump truck crosses over Salem Church Road in Goldsboro on Wednesday afternoon as crews continue their work on the new U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass.

Anyone who buys property in Wayne County should be notified of any existing plans to build or widen roads across the property, county Commissioner Jack Best said at the board's meeting this week.

Best compared the situation to informing potential buyers about the noise emanating from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

He made his comments after county planning Director Connie Price briefed commissioners about the Planning Board's discussion last week concerning zoning and the need to protect highway corridor rights of way.

During their meeting, Planning Board members agreed that such protection is important, but they expressed concern about the rights of property owners and requiring them to set aside any land that a road might cross. No decision was made, and board members discussed the possibility of creating a steering committee of county officials and the public to study the issue.

Best took the Planning Board to task somewhat for a recent decision relating to the discussion.

"We have got a planned corridor for Highway 117 and last year you allowed a subdivision to go on it. I've got a problem with that. What I don't have a problem with is notifying the owners who are buying that property that a road will come there or that there is a possibility a road will come through." he said.

"We are working at trying to get the language in our ordinance that we would require that," Price said. "We didn't have anything to prevent the developer from using that property as he wanted to. We are trying to get language in there so the next time it happens ..."

Best interrupted, "It is not fair to those people who they sell to not to know that a road might go across there."

Commissioner Steve Keen, who also serves on the Planning Board, said that in that particular instance there had been nothing "on paper" about a planned highway.

The corridor had been voted on by the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, Best said.

"But it has not been adopted by the N.C. DOT," Keen responded.

"They (DOT) were in a meeting and agreed to it," Best said.

Still, there was no planned corridor down on paper, Keen said.

"The people need to know if there is a planned corridor," Best said. "I don't have a problem with the guy developing the land so much since it may be 20 years before they build the road. But the people shouldn't be surprised that a road is going there in 15 to 20 years."

"Something has got to be worked out on this in terms of communications," Commissioner Andy Anderson said.

"I think the Planning Board is right on target," Keen said. "I think property owners being forced (to set aside property) is a real big consideration of the Planning Board as we look at plans and a basic study.

"But we do need some assistance from the commission as far as the transportation planning part of the county being more open with the Planning Board so we can understand the transportation projects some 10, 15 and 20 years down the road. We have been kept in the dark by the transportation committees until they approve and want to do something and it is brought before the Planning Board after the fact and we are sort of in the dark on that."

Price also updated commissioners on first steps in possibly expanding zoning in the county particularly along major highway corridors in areas that are changing from rural to urban.

"Let's talk about zoning," Best said. "Zoning is a very tedious question for people, especially when land is handed down through generation after generation. Before we make any decisions and the planning board goes out and makes recommendations I think your idea of having a committee made up of Planning Board members and commissioners would be a good idea. I think you have a good plan."

"Thank you, Jack. We are just following the guidelines given to us by the county," Keen said. "The planning board is doing all that it can and all that it has been instructed to do."

Commissioner Sandra McCullen asked if guidelines were already in place in the county's comprehensive land use plan.

Price said that zoning would be an enforcement tool for policies. The plan, he said, speaks to protecting farmland and trying to have urban uses near urban areas.

Mrs. McCullen pointed out that the plan was the result of two years of study by a committee and "a lot of input from citizens."

"I think we have got a good start and a good policy," Price said. "It is when you get down to the property level that you have to be very careful."

Anderson renewed a suggestion he made during commissioners' recent planning retreat that the board "get back on that once we get the budget done -- we need to start work on this (zoning)."