10/06/09 — Keen takes project to city

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Keen takes project to city

By Kenneth Fine and Steve Herring
Published in News on October 6, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioner Steve Keen is moving forward with plans to develop a 51.17-acre piece of property located on the south side of U.S. 70 just east of N.C. 581, despite opposition from his own board.

Just two months after commissioners voted down -- by a 4-1 margin -- his request to have the site rezoned from Residential-Agriculture-20 to Community Shopping to allow for commercial development, the property appeared on the Goldsboro City Council agenda in the form of a noncontiguous annexation request.

A public hearing was held -- no one spoke in favor of or against the request -- and city Planning Director Randy Guthrie said Goldsboro's planning board likely will recommend its approval at the council's Nov. 2 meeting.

"If I remember correctly ... I think the county thought it was consistent with their land use plan," Guthrie said. "I think their concern was that their development standards were just not in place yet and ours are."

After the public hearing, Guthrie asked the council to defer action on the annexation until its Nov. 2 meeting, to allow for a public hearing on potential zoning of the site to take place Oct. 19.

"We will probably recommend (zoning the property) shopping center," Guthrie said.

Then, after both hearings are held, the two items -- zoning and annexation -- likely will be packaged together and the planning board likely will recommend approval, Guthrie said.

The annexation is consistent with a policy on noncontiguous annexation adopted by the City Council in September 1988.

It states that the area must be located within one mile of the established city limit line, the city must be able to provide police and fire protection in the area and the annexation must not have an adverse effect on the city's overall annexation plans.

Keen's site is 1.89 miles from the city limits, however, annexation is still allowed under such conditions if city water is available or can be "reasonably made available" if the tract is more than 20 acres.

Guthrie said water service would be provided by Fork Township Sanitary District but would be treated by the city.

Keen had originally petitioned the county to rezone the site to allow for commercial development. He had asked that the remaining 19.61 acres be rezoned from Residential-Agriculture 20 to Residential 15 to develop a subdivision of single-family housing.

County Planner Connie Price Monday afternoon said it was the first time that he is aware of that someone had sought approval from the city after being denied by the county.

Price said he had seen the newspaper ad for the rezoning.

"They (Goldsboro) actually have an amendment to their zoning map also and there will be a public hearing at a later date," he said. "Annex-ation by Goldsboro, they would have to meet Golds-boro's development requirements and any zoning of the property would be according to the city of Goldsboro."

Price said it was his understanding that the request was just for the front part of the property.

"The residential part is not part of the request as I understand it," he said.

Water and sewer are in place and there is easy access to the property off U.S. 70, he said.

Approval would eventually generate sales and property tax revenues for the city, Price said. In addition, it would mean that a business could apply for and receive an ABC permit -- something that would not have been possible in the county.

Price said the request is for spot annexation, the same procedure that brought the Wal-Mart -- located diagonally across from Keen's property -- into the city limits.

If the annexation is approved then the city would have to amend its zoning map, he said. Annexing the property would leave it in no zone until the zoning map is changed, he said.

Keen initially made his request to the county Planning Board in May.

At that time, the county planning staff recommended against rezoning the front acreage, citing at that time the county's lack of parking lot and sign standards to guarantee the development's appearance on what is considered a major entrance in to the city.

Price also noted the property's proximity to the N.C. Department of Transport-ation maintenance yard and other industrial property that could expose residents to harmful effects of incompatible development or environmental hazards.

Since that time, commissioners have enacted both sign and parking lot regulations.

Keen provided little information about his plans during the discussions. How-ever, in an interview, he said the six commercial front out parcels are valued at $500,000 each for a total of $3 million. The center part of the commercial portion could add another $9 million to $12 million to the property value.

He said commercial development would be located near the front of the property with the possible addition of shopping and medical offices, such as doctors and dentists, in the middle.

There has been some interest shown in the property, but he did not elaborate.

The Planning Board rejected the staff's recommendation and voted 3-1 to approve both requests. Keen recused himself and did not vote.

Brad Wells, Mike Aycock and Vice Chairman Joanne Summerlin, who acted as chairman during the discussion, voted to recommend the rezoning and board member Hattie Frederick voted no.

Commissioners held a hearing on the request in June.

Commissioners had their first reading of the request in July and approved it by a 6-0 vote after Keen recused himself. Since there was not a full board, a second vote was required. The second vote in mid-August failed 4-1. Following the vote, county attorney Borden Parker said that Keen could ask for the issue to be revisited after a year had passed.