10/04/09 — Committee to eye planning board

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Committee to eye planning board

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 4, 2009 2:00 AM

The county committee charged with reviewing the more-than-40-year-old ordinance that created the Wayne County Planning Board will hold its first meeting Monday at 2 p.m. in Room 458 in the county courthouse annex, 224 E. Walnut St.

The committee was appointed by commission Chairman Bud Gray in August. Serving with Gray on the committee are commissioners J.D. Evans and Andy Anderson, Planning Board members David Quick and Hattie Frederick, county attorney Borden Parker and county Planning Director Connie Price.

Commissioners have made no specific comments as to what they are looking at in the ordinance or what kind of changes, if any, could be made.

"The meeting will be to discuss and review the procedures, rules and regulations of the Planning Board," Gray said. "They were adopted in the mid-1960s and according to commissioners, they need to be reviewed."

Gray said the process could take several meetings.

Nothing has been suggested as of yet in the way of changes, he said.

"We will come back with recommendations for commissioners," he said.

Commissioner Jack Best made the motion to establish the committee at the board's August session. At that time, he said it was made "so we can understand who is in charge and who is not in charge and whose duties are what."

Best said that would allow commissioners to have something prior to Nov. 17 when a work session is to be held on any proposed changes to the ordinance.

He added that he wanted the committee's findings back to the full board prior to Nov. 1 so that commissioners would have time to study them.

The motion was approved by a 6-1 margin, with Commissioner Steve Keen casting the dissenting vote. Keen is an eight-year member of the Planning Board.

It is just one of several planning areas that commissioners have delved into, straining an already tense relationship between the two boards.

At one recent meeting, Commissioner John Bell reminded Planning Board chairman Chris Cox that Planning Board members are appointed by commissioners and serve in an advisory capacity.

Bell made those comments after Cox told commissioners they needed to explain their actions in reference to planning decisions in the county.

Price and Parker were instructed by commissioners in June to review the existing ordinance and to rewrite it so that commissioners would approve subdivision plats. The board will look at the mobile home subdivision rules as well.

A public hearing on the mobile home ordinance is set for Oct. 20 at 9:15 a.m. during the commission's mid-month session. The Planning Board and Health Board must review the proposal.

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

The Planning Board has recommended that Price approve final plats. It also wants an appeals process in place should a plat be approved by one board, but denied by the other. A committee consisting of three commissioners and three Planning Board members would make the review.

In addition, Planning Board members say both boards should offer the reasoning behind any decision to deny a plat.

Two public hearings failed to provide any public support for the proposed subdivision change. The first hearing was held by the Planning Board on Sept. 1 and attracted about 25 people. Commis-sioners held their hearing Sept. 16, which was attended by less than a dozen people, some of whom had spoken at the first hearing.

At one point in the first hearing, Planning Board member Mike Aycock had to bring the topic back on task after the audience veered off on a discussion about the Goldsboro Metropolitan Plan-ning Organizations (MPO) and its duties and powers. The MPO is the city's long-range transportation organization.

However, before the hearing ended, half of it had been devoted to the MPO.

Along with its at-times tense relationship with commissioners, some Planning Board members, notably Keen and Cox, have taken offense to what they see as the MPO's infringement on the board's duties.

They also were upset that MPO members have said that the Planning Board overstepped its authority in 2008 when it approved a subdivision in the Mar Mac area since a proposed route for Interstate 795 crosses the property.