10/18/09 — County will take vote on planning issues

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County will take vote on planning issues

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 18, 2009 2:00 AM

Wayne County commissioners are just one vote away from making major changes in how the county has handled approval of subdivision plats for the past several decades.

That vote is expected during the board's Tuesday meeting and, if approved, commissioners would have the final say on plats -- a power now exercised by the county Planning Board.

It is the first of three changes that commissioners are working toward where planning issues are concerned.

The second would make changes to the mobile home park ordinance. The third would address the ordinance that created the Planning Board some 40 years ago.

A public hearing on the mobile home park ordinance will be Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' boardroom on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The meeting will begin with an agenda briefing at 8 a.m. The meeting will start at 9 a.m.

The journey toward more commissioners' control started in June when the board charged county attorney Borden Parker and county planner Connie Price with rewriting the subdivision ordinance to shift final approval to commissioners.

The Planning Board would continue to review and make recommendations on the plats.

During their review of the proposal, Planning Board members suggested several changes -- most notably having Price approve the finals plats and requiring commissioners to state their reasons for denying a plat.

The Planning Board also wanted a joint committee of three of its members and three commissioners to review plats when they were approved by one board but rejected by the other.

Commissioners mentioned none of those recommendations during their Oct. 6 deliberations.

One change was added, however. Commissioner Jack Best was successful in convincing the board to drop from 10 to 4 the number of lots needed for a subdivision to be considered minor.

The board rejected a motion by Commissioner Steve Keen, who also serves on the Planning Board, which would have required economic impact studies on every plat.

The ordinance was approved 4-2, with Keen and Commissioner Andy Anderson dissenting.

The second vote was made necessary by the absence of Commissioner Sandy McCullen. When the full board is not available to vote, an issue requires a second reading and vote.

As such, the possibility remains that changes still could be made prior to the second vote.

The mobile home park ordinance was discussed by the Planning Board at its meeting last Tuesday.

The board, as it did for the subdivision ordinance, asked that commissioners state, in writing, their reasons when they reject a plat, specifying what provisions of the ordinance the plat fails to comply with.

Keen, who made the motion seeking the amendment, said such information would allow a developer to know what has to be accomplished to win approval.

During the Planning Board meeting, Price explained that a mobile home park is different from a mobile home subdivision.

In a park, three or more mobile homes are located on rented lots, while in a subdivision the homeowner owns the lot.

Commissioners have not indicated whether they will vote Tuesday on the mobile home park changes.

The final ordinance under consideration is the one that created the Planning Board. A major change in that ordinance would be give commissioners authority to remove a Planning Board member with or without cause.

Commissioners are scheduled to address the ordinance during a work session next month. It is also on next week's agenda.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners will be asked to sign off on the county schools' application for Public Schools Capital Building Funds and lottery funds.

The school board approved both at its Oct. 5 session.

The $1,321,750 in Public Schools Capital Building Funds will be used to make the final computer lease program. The $600,000 in lottery funds will be utilized to complete the Brogden Primary School, Greenwood Middle School and Mount Olive Middle School renovation and construction projects.