09/13/09 — County will hear comment on policy for plats

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County will hear comment on policy for plats

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 13, 2009 2:00 AM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the county's subdivision ordinance that would give them final approval of all subdivision plats.

Along with their own ideas, commissioners will have before them several recommended changes made by the Planning Board at its meeting last week that differ fundamentally from the proposal.

Tuesday's hearing gets under way at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' boardroom on the fourth floor of the country courthouse annex. A briefing session on the agenda will start at 8 a.m., followed by the regular meeting at 9 a.m.

It will be the second hearing for the proposal. The first was conducted Sept. 1 by the Planning Board.

The Planning Board decided to hold its own hearing following commissioners' refusal to change Tuesday's hearing time from morning to evening. Planning Board members argued that more people would be able to attend an evening session.

Approximately 25 people attended the first hearing, and those who spoke agreed the 40-year-old process works and does not need to be changed.

Commissioners in June instructed county Planning Director Connie Price and county attorney Borden Parker to review the existing ordinance and to rewrite it in so that commissioners would approve the plats.

Changes to the county planning process does not end there. Waiting in the wings are a similar review of the mobile home subdivision ordinance as well as the ordinance that created the Planning Board.

Under the current process, plats are approved by the Planning Board and Price has the authority to approve plats for "minor" projects -- five lots on a secondary road or three on a private drive.

The proposal under consideration would remove that authority. All plats would go to the Planning Board for review and recommendations with final approval resting with commissioners.

Commissioners have said the proposed subdivision plat approval process would more closely mirror the one used by the city of Goldsboro -- with the exception of final plats that would be approved by commissioners. The city planning staff approves final plats.

Planning Board members last week approved recommendations that Price not only continue to approve those smaller plats, but that he approve final plats as well. Price would have 30 days to act on a plat and failure to do so would trigger an appeal to the Planning Board.

It was not discussed at that time who would approve the plats in cases like that. However, Price said later he thought the intention was that they would be approved by commissioners.

Price could keep both boards updated through the regular reports that he provides, Cox said.

Planning Board Chairman Chris Cox said commissioners, once they approve a preliminary plat, will know what it is going to look like. If there are any changes after that point, the plat has to be resubmitted, he said.

Approval of the preliminary plats would give commissioners an idea of where and how the county is developing, Cox said. That knowledge was cited by commissioners when they initiated the review process.

The Planning Board also wants a committee of three of its members and three commissioners to review plats that are approved by one board, but disapproved by the other.

The committee was suggested by Planning Board member Brad Wells.

"We really need a committee or setup between commissioners and the Planning Board members that we can review in event we have one approve and the other disapprove or vise-versa," Wells said at the board's meeting last week. "Either way, we need to have a committee where these individuals came come back to the table and we review these plans and plats."

Parker said the final wording of the recommendation would not be exactly what was said. It should read "if they (commissioners) are inclined to approve or disapprove, because once they approve, it is approved," Parker said.

Planning Board members also agreed they need to provide an explanation when they turn down a subdivision. Commissioners, too, they added.

Plats also would have notes added to them to indicate any proposed roads that might cross the property.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners will hold a second public hearing at 9:15 a.m. The hearing, rescheduled from the first of the month, concerns a grant application for approximately $850,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding.

The grant would be through the Community Revitalization Category and used for housing acquisition, clearance, relocation and rehabilitation assistance, street and drainage improvements and water improvements.

The proposed work would be done in the Love Drive/Quiet Drive area along Arrington Bridge Road in the Dudley area.

Also on the agenda:

* County Health Director James Roosen will update the board on the H1N1 (swine) flu.

* Services on Aging Director Eryn McAuliffe will talk to commissioners about the Senior Center open house on Sept. 22. She will ask the board to sign a proclamation designating September as Senior Center Month.

* The board will consider declaring property at 518 and 520 Olivia Lane as surplus and to advertise it for sale.

* Commissioners also are expected to approve current fuel prices charged at the county airport.