09/20/11 — Franklin Baking seeks OK for rezoning

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Franklin Baking seeks OK for rezoning

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 20, 2011 1:46 PM

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Franklin Baking on West Grantham Street is seen early today. Officials with the company are seeking a rezoning by the city to expand. A spokesman told the Goldsboro City Council at a public hearing Monday night that Flowers Foods, which owns the bakery, is considering making the site a regional distribution center.

A rezoning request for a parcel of land at the northwest corner of the West Holly and North Virginia streets intersection attracted the ire of nearby residents at Monday's City Council meeting as five individuals spoke during the public hearing in opposition to the change, while one representative from the Wayne County Development Alliance spoke for it.

Franklin Baking Co. purchased a parcel of land from the city Aug. 1, which gave the company ownership of all seven parcels of land at the south end of the block. The company submitted a rezoning request to change the zoning code of the four parcels not zoned for general industry -- all on the southeast corner of the block -- to be changed from R-6 residential to I-2 general industry.

Because the request was for rezoning, no use for the property had to be specified when it was filed. The new zone would permit manufacturing, wholesale and distribution uses. The company's lack of publicized intentions with regard to the new property seemed to bother those who came Monday to speak out against the move.

Ruby Best, who lives next door to the property identified for rezoning, said the noise from the trucks makes it difficult to sleep and poses a health risk. She also voiced concern that diesel fumes could further impact her health if the company were to expand next door.

Pat Brewer, who lives at the corner of Grantham and Virginia streets near the bakery, spoke also, saying that she detests having to see the trucks outside of her windows and invoking neighborhood values, saying that for years the company had been a good neighbor, but that she didn't want to see the neighborhood taken over by industry.

"It's not a gated community, but for us, it's home," she said, adding that the rights of the residents to peace were being encroached upon.

Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Allen addressed Ms. Brewer after about 15 minutes of her holding the podium and showing slides depicting where the area up for rezoning was and asked if a discussion between the residents and representatives from the company would help to make the situation better for each side.

Those opposed to the rezoning seemed to like the idea of a meeting to discuss the company's intentions and to allow them to have their concerns heard as the business looks to expand, since the discussions following Allen's plan weren't as tense.

No recommendation on the rezoning issue was required at the meeting, so Allen proposed that the Planning Commission have a recommendation for the next meeting that takes into account the issues discussed at the meeting between residents and the company. If it couldn't be scheduled soon enough, a decision would be deferred until the next meeting.

Mike Haney, vice president of the county's development alliance and an industry specialist, spoke next as the only individual at the public hearing to support the rezoning.

Haney explained that the company's owner, Flowers Foods, was looking to open up a large distribution center and had identified Goldsboro as a top choice for the location. The rezoning would make Goldsboro more viable as a choice for the center, he said.

He also attempted to discredit claims by others at the hearing that the company did not make any "community investments," noting that the company is a member of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and frequently partners with the United Way. The company has 340 employees.

"Frankling Baking is an excellent corporate citizen," Haney told the council.

Besides a call from Henry Jinnette to bulldoze the entire residential area between the bakery and downtown for a city park, the rest of the hearing carried on without a hitch as residents seemed satisfied to await their opportunity to speak directly with Franklin Baking Co. at their future meeting.

A recommendation is expected from the Planning Commission at the Oct. 3 meeting, although a delay would result in a recommendation presented.