11/09/12 — Church gets OK from city to build

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Church gets OK from city to build

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 9, 2012 1:46 PM

St. Mark Church of Christ received approval for its site and landscape plan Monday night as the Goldsboro City Council brought to an end the delay of more than a month.

The decision comes in advance of what's likely to be a change to the city's sidewalk requirements for development work.

The church's plan to construction a vestibule, canopy and parking addition onto its property on West Ash Street was held up due to issues concerning sidewalk requirements.

The church's plans were subject to a 2007 ordinance amendment that requires sidewalk installation along street fronts for any renovation or repair projects that expand a building by more than half of its space or increase the property's tax value by more than half.

Although the applicant asked that the sidewalk requirements be waived fully, the city Planning Commission recommended the church pay the sidewalk fee for its Mulberry Street frontage only.

When that recommendation was presented to the City Council on Oct. 1, it attracted the ire of two council members who wanted the church to have the fees waived.

At that meeting's work session, District 3 Councilman William Goodman asked that the measure be removed from the consent agenda, which contained three other site plan recommendations requiring applicants to pay sidewalk fees despite request for waivers.

Without discussion, Goodman made a motion during the meeting that the waivers all be granted.

Council members pointed out that this wouldn't be fair to the other applicants, including one church that the council had just required to pay fees.

Goodman withdrew his motion after the council agreed to take a closer look at its sidewalk requirements over the years. Goodman asked that the site plan decision be delayed for 30 days.

In between that meeting and the measure's approval Monday, the council looked through sidewalk installation maps and its ordinance. Members charged Planning Director Randy Guthrie with putting together a new policy that would ease requirements for developers.

The Unified Development Ordinance, as approved in 2005, required installation of sidewalks along the street fronts in all instances of new construction projects, aforementioned expansions or repairs, changes in use or the reopening of businesses that had been closed for a year or longer.

The council dictated that the ordinance be amended to exclude the reopening and expansion stipulations and that the city's sidewalk plan be incorporated into requirements. The resulting ordinance could result in sidewalk requirements being implemented only in the case of new construction projects along corridors identified for sidewalk construction as part of the city's 2009 plan, as prepared by consultant Kimley-Horn.

But that draft, which isn't final and couldn't be ratified until Jan. 7 at the earliest, didn't solve the council's current with St. Mark's, or the discrepancy between the church's requirements with those of the other site plans approved in October.

"We need to be fair," Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen said.

District 1 Councilman Michael Headen was concerned that church officials weren't aware of what was being discussed, asking to what extent city staff had been in contact with them.

Guthrie said his staff had been working closely with them to keep them abreast of the situation.

Allen said that if there was a general consensus among the council members to support the amendment to the sidewalk requirement ordinance, the fees should be waived for the church and the other site plan applicants that had requests approved in October.

The council found that solution more agreeable than requiring the church to wait for the new ordinance to apply again, which would unfairly charge the other site plan applicants and delay the church's construction plans even further.

The council chose to refund the sidewalk fee to the three applicants and approved 7-0 the site plan for St. Marks with all of its requested waivers intact.