05/20/09 — Commission takes up questions regarding Keen rezoning request

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Commission takes up questions regarding Keen rezoning request

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

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Wayne County Commissioner Steve Keen listens as Connie Price, the county\'s planning director, addresses county commissioners on the rezoning of approximately 70 acres on U.S. 70 West near N.C. Highway 581.

Public hearings on two zoning requests, including one from county Commissioner Steve Keen, will be held June 16 in hopes of providing the county the time to address parking lot and sign standards.

In the interval, a public hearing on sign standards will be held at the commission's June 2 session.

A similar hearing on parking lot standards was held several months ago. Commissioners were unable to agree on the proposal at that time and sent it back to the Planning Board for revisions.

County attorney Borden Parker told commissioners he needed to determine if another public hearing on that topic would be required because of the time that has lapsed since the first one.

It also was Parker who recommended that the board schedule the zoning public hearings at its mid-June session to provide time to address the sign and parking lot issues.

Keen has asked the county to rezone about 70 acres on U.S. 70 West near N.C. 581. Keen wants the front 50 acres rezoned from residential-20 to commercial shopping and the back 20 acres from residential-20 to residential-15 to allow smaller lots of 15,000 square feet for cluster housing.

The second rezoning request was made by Jim Daniels of Daniels Development for a parcel of land on N.C. 111 near Ditch Bank Road. Daniels plans to build an office and equipment yard.

The Planning Board, of which Keen is a member, recommended both requests.

The vote on Daniels' request was unanimous and had been recommended by the county planning staff.

The staff had recommended that the residential portion of Keen's request be granted, but that the commercial portion be denied because of concerns about the appearance of future development.

Keen's property is located on the south side of U.S. 70 West about 1,000 feet east of N.C. 581 near the state Department of Transportation maintenance yard.

The original request was approved 3-1 by the Planning Board after Keen and board Chairman Chris Cox recused themselves. Cox is marketing the property for Keen.

Keen recused himself at the start of Tuesday's commissioners' discussion just as he did at the Planning Board's meeting last week by saying it was because of a possible conflict of interest. Unlike the Planning Board session where he sat in the audience, Keen remained seated with commissioners.

In recusing himself, Keen did not specifically say what the conflict was.

In addition, during the following discussion no one called Keen by name as the property owner, simply referring to the property's "developer."

Cox sat in the back row of the audience Tuesday. Neither Keen nor Cox spoke during the discussion.

Commissioner Andy Anderson sparked the conversation when he suggested that the county work with the developer to "take care" of the concerns about parking and signs.

The county, Parker said, cannot make that a condition of the zoning.

Anderson also suggested what amounted to a zoning moratorium until the issues could be resolved.

"You cannot pace a moratorium on changing zones without a public hearing on a moratorium," Parker said.

Anderson said the area around Rosewood and Wal-Mart is growing into an "actual community, a shopping community."

Anderson said he had looked at the pros and cons of both properties and there seemed to be a commonality between them.

"I know we have our master plan, but we still can't stop what is growing out in the county," he said.

"I think what Andy is saying is that we give ourselves some time to work things out before we make a commitment and put ourselves in a bind," Commissioner J.D. Evans said.

County Planning Director Connie Price said his concerns about the Keen request are that U.S. 70 is a gateway area and because of the scope of the project including 70 acres and "not having as what I see as adequate parking standards and sign standards in place to protect the gateway into Goldsboro on the west side. The only person we can deal with is the current developer. We don't know what is going to happen."

Anderson asked Price how he would feel about the project if the county had the ordinances in place.

Price responded that he would not have any problems with it then.

Commissioner Jack Best wanted to know about the state Department of Trans-portation's decision involving access to the property.

"Before we change the zoning I want to know and about what it will look like," Best said. "DOT approval is very important."

He added that Rosewood residents already complain about traffic.

"So we need to see what the DOT comes up with before we make a decision," he said.

Commissioner Sandra McCullen said she wanted to hear more about the Daniels request before making a decision.

The planning staff, Price said, recommended that project.

The biggest differences between the two projects are that the Daniels' request involves "just one use" and the property size, about 17 acres, Price said.

Keen said he wanted to comment, but was concerned there might be a conflict if the two projects were being coupled.

Best said they were not and Mrs. McCullen said she had just wanted to hear about both before making a decision.

Parker said if the two were not linked then there would be no conflict.

Mrs. McCullen and Keen asked Price if N.C. 111 was a gateway into the city.

Price said N.C. 111 was designed more for local traffic, while U.S. 70 was more for through traffic.

Keen also questioned Price's contention that the Daniels property would be one use only

Best also asked Price if the county had schematics on either property. Price said no.

"I don't ever remember asking for schematics in my seven and a half years on the Planning Board," Keen said.

Parker said it probably was not fair to ask for schematics because a developer probably would not want to have the added expense and not know whether the rezoning would be approved.