08/19/11 — County approves naming policy

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County approves naming policy

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 19, 2011 1:46 PM

People who want to have a county-owned building, or even a room, named after someone now have a clearer path to follow in getting that done.

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the county's first official policy for addressing such requests.

The policy was first presented to commissioners at their Aug. 2 meeting by County Manager Lee Smith. Commissioners at that time suggested several changes that were incorporated into the policy approved Tuesday.

Smith told commissioners on Aug. 2 that he had realized the county had no official policy after he had received some inquiries about possible naming rights for the new Services on Aging building -- the old Sportsman's World -- on East Ash Street.

"This is for existing, new, or renovated facilities and the county can receive recommendations from the public, staff or advisory bodies," Smith said. "It may be that commissioners choose to appoint a committee or a review commission that would take a look at the naming of a facility or facilities.

"Or you may get one from the public and you consider it. This is something that comes up. We have had it at several of our buildings where rooms were named. I just thought that we were at the point now to reduce something to writing because I just wasn't comfortable with it anymore."

Commissioner Jack Best called the plan a "good job."

"But sooner or later you are going to need a little more guidance where to start or you are going to have a flood of people wanting to name this or that or whatever," Best said.

Smith agreed.

"I think that is why we tried to leave it open for the discretion of the board on all of these issues so that you have final say as to whatever the issue is," he said. "I also didn't want to sink your feet in cement on any of the issues so as to give you maneuverability particularly in the beginning. It is a start and it will change."

Commissioner Steve Keen had suggested a breakdown of donations by levels. However, Smith said he could not find any such breakdown being used by other counties or municipalities.

He noted that the policy does provide that commissioners may consider, on a project-by-project basis, the naming of county-owned properties based on financial contributions.

"With the exception of large things like an RBC Center or private foundations, we could really find no other local government or municipality that had a financial level on all projects," Smith said. "Basically it was left at the discretion of the board and they named it on a case by case basis. I really tried to find something more quantitative, but I couldn't find anything."

"It is vague in some ways, but it certainly gives us a good benchmark to start looking at how we can have these names of these people on the buildings that are maybe not just financially, but are significant in service to the county over time," Keen said.

Keen offered a motion to adopt the policy, but before the vote could be taken Commissioner John Bell said he had a comment to add.

"I would like to see us come up with an idea how we could create a hall of fame section for people," he said.

Smith said the county has been asked about that several times.

"A lot of city halls and county courthouses on an annual basic they pick them and the (Wayne County) museum has one," Smith said.

No action was taken on Bell's suggestion.

The revised policy also:

* Eliminates the number of years that a person or business must have been involved in the county in order to have their name considered.

* Adds commissioners to the informal reviews by the county attorney, county manager and staff before a formal submission to commissioners.

* Allows the name (such as a nickname) identifying the person to be used and not just the person's formal name.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners set a public hearing for Sept. 20 at 9:15 a.m. on the Wayne County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. The hearing will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The plan, first approved by commissioners in June 2010, is an analysis of natural hazards that may affect the county including flooding, drought, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes.

Its purpose is to establish goals and strategies that over the next five or so years would help local government and the public to better prepare for the hazards.

The plan has been approved by the N.C. Office of Emergency Management and by FEMA. The delay in approval on the state and federal level was because the city of Goldsboro was added to the plan after it had been locally approved.

That means all of the county's municipalities are part of the plan, said County Planner Connie Price. Including Goldsboro does not place any additional obligation on the county, he said.

All of the municipalities in the plan must also hold a public hearing and adopt it.

In response to questioning by board Chairman J.D. Evans, Price that each municipality would be responsible for policing its own self and that he would administer the county's portion of the plan.

The board also approved two subdivision plats, both recommended for approval by the county Planning Board:

* Gerald Hayes Beamon and Robert Bennett Rackley final; owner/developer, Beamon and Rackley; three lots in Stoney Creek Township on the east side of North U.S. 117 at its intersection with Stoney Hill Road.

* Ronald Jr. and Jennifer Waters final; owner/developer, Ronald Waters; one lot in Fork Township on the south side of Charlie Braswell Road approximately 2,500 feet west of Ebenezer Church Road.