12/20/11 — Several protest zoning change

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Several protest zoning change

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

Residents in the area near Franklin Baking Co. again turned out at Monday's Goldsboro City Council meeting to show their opposition to the company's rezoning request filed with the city.

Many of the same residents appeared at a Sept. 19 meeting to voice their concern about the ambiguity of what the Flowers Foods subsidiary is planning for the site, which lies at the intersection of North Virginia and West Holly streets. Residents are worried that any expansion of the company would further impact their lives and health.

Franklin Baking 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.

After a protest and meetings between residents and company officials, the company requested to withdraw its rezoning proposal and instead filed this most recent conditional district rezoning, which only permits the development of the land at the City Council's discretion.

Mike Haney, vice president of the county's development alliance and an industry specialist, called the conditional district rezoning request a "great compromise," but residents who showed up at the Dec. 19 meeting weren't so sure.

Pat Brewer, who lives at the corner of Grantham and Virginia streets near the bakery, read a statement during the public hearing on behalf of residents opposed to the rezoning.

She said residents felt "victimized and violated by Franklin's management's perceived attitude of entitlement to expand their business without transparency and conditions beyond the legal responsibilities of the zoning ordinance."

She also read aloud certain concerns of the residents and possible remedies to those concerns, asking for buffers and sidewalks, to minimize traffic after 9 p.m., restricting traffic to Carolina Street and pushing development toward Carolina Street.

District 1 Councilman Michael Headen and District 4 Councilman Rev. Charles Williams questioned Haney, who spoke again at the most recent hearing, about how the residents would be "protected," as Haney described they would be, within the conditional district rezoning. Williams centered on the issue of buffers between the Franklin Bakery property and the residences.

Haney explained that the council's role in the conditional district rezoning would mean the members of the board, who know the concerns of residents, would have to sign off on any future development. Planning Director Randy Guthrie later noted that the sidewalks, buffers and other conditions were all included as part of the city's development requirements.

In all, three people spoke during the hearing, as Ruby Best, who lives adjacent to the subject property on North Virginia Street, made a repeat appearance to address the council and express her opposition to the rezoning.

No action on the request was required Monday night. The Planning Commission will present a recommendation to the council at its Jan. 9, 2012, meeting.