12/15/10 — Planning Board discusses rules for gated communities in county

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Planning Board discusses rules for gated communities in county

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 15, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County Planning Board members Tuesday night once again tabled action on allowing gated communities in the county until they can find out how the gates could affect school bus traffic.

Board members also wanted to know how Greenville and Johnston County provide for such communities.

The initial request by Mallard Pointe developers for gated community status was made at the board's September meeting, but was tabled to allow county attorney Borden Parker time to review it. Security was cited by the subdivision's Homeowners Association for requesting the gates.

The Planning Board rejected the request at its October meeting.

When the subdivision, located on Hinnant Road in Buck Swamp Township, was approved, the streets were dedicated as public. Gating the community would mean the streets would no longer be public. The plats and maps approved when a subdivision is created require that the streets be public.

The streets are designed to ultimately be accepted for maintenance by the state Department of Transportation. The state will not accept streets blocked by a gate.

Any changes to the subdivision ordinance would require a public hearing by county commissioners, who make the final decision.

Tuesday night the board looked at some possible preliminary rules for the gates and agreed to wording changes suggested by Parker and Fire Marshal Brian Taylor.

Parker suggested adding "owner" to the group (developer or homeowners' association) that would be responsible for providing "unfettered access" to all roads in the subdivision by emergency and law enforcement vehicles.

Parker also suggested that wording be included requiring the owner, as well as the developer or homeowners' association, to notify the county of any changes to the gates that could be controlled by electronic keypads or by guards.

New board member Zeke Jackson asked what happened during power outages.

The electronic systems normally have battery back-ups, Price said.

The guidelines under consideration would require that if a person has to be present to provide access that the person be stationed at the gate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Someone who is on call to provide access could be out of place and delay emergency vehicles, Price said.

"It would not do much good if no one is at the gate," he said.

Taylor recommended that gates for two-way travel into and out of a gated community be at least 20 feet wide and not the18 feet suggested in the initial rules. The extra width would ensure larger emergency vehicles easy access, Price said.

Gates for one-way travel would have to be at least 12 feet wide.

It was then that Price questioned whether school buses would have to stop at the gates, since the roads in the community would be private, or if they would be allowed access.

Price said he had yet to hear from county schools officials about that issue.

"Are they allowed on private roads or are they restricted to public roads?" said board member David Quick.

Board members Chris Cox and Mike Aycock said they knew that buses travel on private roads in their communities.

Board member Steve Keen said Goldsboro has a gated community on Harding Drive. He said it is a cluster-type subdivision and suggested that Price check with the city concerning its rules.

Current county ordinances do not allow a gated community unless it is a cluster subdivision.Mallard Pointe is not a cluster subdivision.

A cluster subdivision allows lots smaller than the normal minimum size in exchange for an open common area maintained by a homeowners' association.

Keen said there are also gated communities in Johnston and Pitt counties.

Price said Pitt County does not allow gated communities, but that Greenville might. He said that while Johnston County allows the communities, there are no real specific rules for them.

Board Chairman Joanne Summerlin said that since the board was under no time constraints that action be tabled until school officials are heard from.

Quick said it also would give the county more time to look at rules used in other communities.

In other business Tuesday, the Planning Board tabled a rezoning request by John Harrell until it can be reviewed by officials at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Price said he had not received an official letter from base officials, but that they had sent him an e-mail asking for time to review the rezoning request.

Harrell has petitioned to rezone approximately 10 acres on the west side of Woodland Church Road near U.S. 13 in Brogden Township from Residential-Agriculture 20 to Village District.

There is an approximately 2,300-square-foot building on the property. The remainder is vacant and woodland. The property is within the one-half mile extension of the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base noise area. The land is outside the base's noise levels and accident potential zone, he said. Price said he did not think the base would have any comment on the rezoning.

The rezoning would allow the property to be used for residential or small commercial use. The current zoning does not allow commercial use.

In response to questioning by board members about his plans for the property, Harrell said that it would be put one the market and make the building available for business use.

Quick asked if those plans for immediate and whether not a delay until next month would hamper his plans.

Harrell said the delay would not be a problem.

If approved by the Planing Board the next step would be for county commissioners to hold a public hearing on the petition.

Three subdivision plats and one mobile home plat were approved:

* Carl and Charlette Corbett final, two lots on Airport Road in Stoney Creek Township

* Charles and Diane Hare final, one lot on Princeton Road in Fork Township

* Carol A. Finch final, two lots on Bogue Road in Nahunta Township

* Southern Mobile Village, section three preliminary/final, one lot on Doug Drive in Brogden Township, Gerald Bell, owner/developer.

The meeting got under way with the re-election of Ms. Summerlin as chairman and Aycock as vice chairman.