04/09/10 — County considers building around airport

View Archive

County considers building around airport

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 9, 2010 1:46 PM

A possible 90-day moratorium on development around the Wayne County Airport will be the topic when county commissioners hold a 9:15 a.m. public hearing on April 20.

The hearing will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The board will examine the area two miles north and south of the airport and 800 feet east and west that falls within county control, County Manager Lee Smith said during the board's Tuesday meeting.

"Basically, the board of commissioners wants to take an opportunity to examine all aspects of the airport in light of the county's plan to take over full ownership and operations of the airport this summer," Smith said. "They want to review the zoning around the airport to ensure that the county has and is protecting citizens and the investment made at the airport by the county.

"The airport is a great economic tool for expanding and new industry and the board of commissioners want to make sure we protect that investment."

County Planner Connie Price said in an interview that nothing in particular had sparked the issue.

What has happened is that the relationship between the county and airport has changed, he said.

"The county now owns the property and it is a (county) department," he said.

The airport is overseen by the Airport Authority and is a joint venture of the county and city of Goldsboro.

However, in March, Goldsboro officials announced that the city will turn over its portion of the operation and the Airport Authority will be dissolved, leaving the county as sole owner and operator.

The action will require local legislation in the General Assembly since the city charter has to be amended to allow the change.

The city does not provide any funding for the airport, but does make some appointments to the authority.

The airport, hangars, equipment and infrastructure are valued at somewhere between $20 and $30 million. Smith has said that the change will not cost the county any more than it does now for the airport since it already is the local funding agent and budgets about $250,000 annually for the facility. Most of the funding comes from federal and state sources.

Price said the 90-day moratorium, if approved, would give the county time to examine the rules already in place.

He said he expects that commissioners will assign that task to the Planning Board.

The findings could be that the rules in place are fine and nothing else is needed, or it could be that there are too restrictive and should be relaxed, Price said. Another possibility is that commissioners could decide the rules need tightening.

Any proposed changes would require a public hearing before they could be acted upon.

"Most of the property around the airport is zoned light industry," Price said. "It allows various industries, warehouses, storage and restaurants, but not residential development. It could stay that way, that we to not need to change them."

The most recent development cropped up in February when property owner Dwight Perry asked the Planning Board to approve his a subdivision plat that would allow him to subdivide property for his daughter and son-in-law. The lot is located on Combs Road near the southern end of the airport.

The Planning Board voted 5-1 to defer action until the Airport Authority could study and comment on the proposal.

The Airport Authority recommended against approval.

It came up again on the board's March agenda. The board lacked enough members for a quorum and no meeting was held. However, Planning Board members told Perry that if the lot was at least 10 acres that it did not need county approval. State law exempts lots of 10 acres or more from subdivision ordinances.