08/17/09 — Planning on agenda again for county

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Planning on agenda again for county

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 17, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning will consider amending zoning ordinances to regulate off-street parking and loading.

Tomorrow's meeting will begin with an 8 a.m. briefing session followed by the formal gathering at 9 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The change is the second of two to come before commissioners that they have said would help ensure more orderly growth. The first, regulating signs, was approved by commissioners earlier this summer. The changes would apply only to areas where the county has zoning.

During a public hearing earlier this month on the parking proposal, businessman and former commissioner Arnold Flowers argued against the ordinance saying it would place an undue hardship on small business owners.

It could, he said, mean the difference between a person being able to start a business or not.

It was the second time commissioners have held a public hearing on the change. The first was months ago. Commissioners did not take any action, and it was decided that a second hearing would be in order because so much time had lapsed.

The current standards have been in place since 1967 and do not include any minimum appearance or access standards. Nor is there a maximum number of parking spaces.

A limit on parking spaces is needed to discourage excessive paving of unnecessary areas, county officials said.

The amendment is designed to help improve the appearance of parking lots. It does not apply to residences.

In a related zoning matter, the board will hold a work session on the subdivision plat approval process.

Commissioners have asked county Planning Director Connie Price and county attorney Borden Parker to draft language that would give them final approval of plats.

Currently, preliminary and final plats are submitted to the county's planning staff and are approved by the Planning Board.

Under the proposed change, the Planning Board would make recommendations on plats and final approval would rest with commissioners.

Preliminary plats are required for any subdivision that involves a new street or more than 10 lots on a secondary road.

The county planning director currently can approve minor plats consisting of five or less lots on a secondary road or three or less lots on a private easement. The change would remove the option requiring all plats to go to the Planning Board for recommendations.

The proposal appears to have strained the already tense relationship between the Planning Board and commissioners.

At their August meeting, Commissioner John Bell reminded Planning Board Chairman Chris Cox that Planning Board members are appointed by commissioners after Cox had questioned commissioners about their reasons for seeking the change.

Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on the proposed change for 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The Planning Board has asked the board to change the hearing time to the evening so more people would be able to attend.

The request has been placed in commissioners' meeting packet for Tuesday.

Two other zoning issues will come before the board.

Commissioners will consider approval of a rezoning request by Prentice Grady for a lot in Dudley. A public hearing on the request was held Aug. 4. No one spoke against the change. The Planning Board has recommended approval.

A second rezoning request concerns two lots on Holloman Lane at Dudley. Elizabeth Morales is seeking the change to allow her to set up a used car business.

The Planning Board last week recommended against that request because the lots are on a dead-end street in a residential area.

In other business, a public hearing will be held at 9:15 a.m. on an application for $252,349 in Rural Operating Assistance Program funding. The hearing was to have been held Aug. 4, but was rescheduled because of problems with the original notification.

The Department of Transportation grant would be used on the rural side of the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority that operates the GATEWAY transit system.

It would assist in funding the Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program; Employment Transportation Assistance program; and Rural General Public Program.

Gail Herring, director of elementary and special projects with the Wayne County Public Schools, will update commissioners on the Summer Focus Intervention Program.

Also, commissioners are scheduled to tour the renovated Jeffrey's Building (the old Federal Building) that the planning, inspections and human resources departments recently moved into.