07/20/09 — Planning Board sets new zoning meetings

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Planning Board sets new zoning meetings

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

The Wayne County Planning Board has placed community workshops on potential zoning back on track months after they were derailed by a maelstrom of controversy.

The meetings, the first of which was to have been held earlier this year, were canceled after controversy arose over a proposed housing project in the Rosewood community and an uproar over the powers of the Goldsboro Municipal Planning Organization took the focus off the workshops' original intent -- to determine the public's interest in possible zoning in the county.

For the moment, the housing project has faded into the background and even the rhetoric about the MPO has abated.

No dates, times or locations for the workshops have been determined yet, county Planning Director Connie Price said they would be scheduled within the next 46-60 days.

Of particular interest is what will be the type of development allowed along the U.S. 70 Bypass interchange at Wayne Memorial Drive and the area along U.S. 70 west from the western limit of Goldsboro's extra-territorial jurisdiction to the Johnston County line and from the railroad tracks south of the highway north to the Little River.

The area, which includes Rosewood, was to have been the topic of the original workshop. The board had planned to hold a series of the workshops in different areas of the county, but they never were scheduled.

The Planning Board was discussing the county's re-vised comprehensive plan when member Steve Keen questioned a point concerning economic development that reads, "compile, when needed for large projects as deemed by the county commissioners, economic impact analysis to determine return on investment."

Keen, who also is a county commissioner, has long supported mandatory economic impact analysis for highway projects. He questioned whether the Planning Board would compile that information for the county's Development Alliance, which promotes industrial development.

He renewed his contention about the need to protect interchanges, particularly ones that will be created by the new U.S. 70 Bypass and specifically the one at Wayne Memorial Drive.

Keen told his fellow board members he had been impressed by a presentation by consultant Mike Rutkowksi of Kimley-Horn at last week's MPO long-range transportation planning workshop.

Rutkowksi's presentation demonstrated different ways the area around that interchange could be developed from random to a more planned and organized manner that could include a mixture of residential and commercial development.

He suggested that Rutkowksi be invited to make the presentation to the Planning Board.

Board Chairman Chris Cox responded that Rutkowksi has been invited to the Planning Board's Aug. 11 session.

New board member David Quick asked if the interchange is inside Goldsboro's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

"The south side of that interchange is Goldsboro's, the north side is the county's the way the line falls," Price said.

The conceptual plan presented by Rutkowksi comprises about 800 acres, the majority of which is on the north side, Keen said.

"I saw the conceptual plan and it was impressive. That's going to require us, the county, to look at zoning, and highest and best use of that interchange," he said.

"One of the areas we were going to look at was that interchange. If we don't do anything there and let free enterprise and capitalism to take its own course there it will change uses there," Price said.

"While we are on the subject, why don't we go ahead, we have got the plan in place, we have got the zoning that we have already talked about it and we have already got it on the map so why don't we set up a public hearing for it?" Cox said.

"We can give it a shot," Price said. "The thing in doing this, the idea before was because of the large number of people involved was to have several community meetings."

That, he said, would help officials to better explain the process and allow the public a chance to look at the maps and ask questions and for the officials to explain the process at the property level and what the zoning would mean.

"The idea would be people come up to the map and say, 'That is my property right there. What does that yellow mean?'" Price said. "I would explain what that yellow means.

"We can try it again at the community level, but bring it all up for adoption as far as a vote for all of the areas at one time or we can vote on a piece at time."

Cox said he had rather just do the Wayne Memorial Drive interchange.

"It is crucial that we get it because it (development) is going to happen," Cox said.

Board members added they wanted to reschedule the Rosewood meeting as well.

"I think you owe it to all the people in the area to have a public hearing and a discussion," Quick said. "For those of you who have been at the last two MPO meetings at the library the people out there along the (proposed U.S.) 117 South (corridor) down in the Mar Mac area, they felt like they were royally had by not being privy to it at the time.

"When the meetings were held they didn't come to the meetings, so I don't have too much sympathy for them, but the more publicity right now, particularly while it is such a hot issue with them, the more publicity we can have, the better the public meeting."

"Get a couple hundred people to show up wherever you have the meeting, then whatever time it takes to give the people the opportunity to have their say," he added

"To me that is the only way you can do it. Then, 10 years from now and grandpa dies and the grandkids have got the property and they want to throw a fit about it, they don't have a leg to stand on -- the property owners and everybody has had their say."

The motion to schedule the workshops was unanimous.

Price said property owners in the areas would be contacted.

Keen said he would like to see both meetings held within a week or two of each other.