11/25/12 — Council deals with sidewalk questions

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Council deals with sidewalk questions

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 25, 2012 1:50 AM

The Goldsboro City Council approved sidewalk requirement modifications Nov. 19 for three site plan requests previously granted due to proposed changes to the city's sidewalk construction ordinances expected to be considered in January.

The developers, originally asked to pay the city's sidewalk fee in lieu of constructing sidewalks along the streets their properties fronted, will have their sidewalk payments refunded or will not be forced to pay into the sidewalk construction fund.

The waivers were approved by consent.

The sidewalk construction requirement was introduced in 2005 as part of the city's Unified Development Ordinance to help better connect the city by pedestrian walkways. An amendment to make it more business-friendly was approved in 2007 to allow developers to pay a fee instead of constructing the sidewalks which saves them, on average, about $10 per lineal foot.

The requirement kicks in for new construction projects, expansions that increase the property's tax value or building size by more than 50 percent, businesses that reopen after more than a year of closure and changes in use.

The mechanism that led to the waivers and the possible change to the ordinance began Oct. 1 when District 3 Councilman William Goodman asked that the site plan for St. Mark Church of Christ be removed from the list of consent agenda items for a separate vote.

Without discussion, he asked that the item be approved with all of the church's requested waivers in place, despite having approved the site plans for Clinic of Life Church, Charles Norwood and McArthur Properties just moments before with the sidewalk fee requirements intact.

The Planning Commission had asked that the church pay the sidewalk fee for its frontage along West Mulberry Street, but granted the waiver for its frontage on West Ash Street. Goodman wanted both fees waived.

The item was tabled so the council could discuss what direction it wanted to take the city sidewalk requirements in and met a month later to approve the plan along with the waivers.

The council also charged Planning Director Randy Guthrie with putting together an amendment to the requirements for sidewalk construction. Guthrie has said the future ordinance will likely not require construction or payment of the sidewalk fee for developers opening up stores that have been closed for more than a year and will be more closely tied to the city's sidewalk map, which outlines the areas where the city determined it wanted to construct sidewalks in 2009.

During discussion of the waiver for St. Mark Nov. 19, Goodman seemed to indicate he had thought the sidewalk requirements for the church were for Alabama Avenue, which lies across the street from the church.

District 4 Councilman Charles Williams asked about extending the sidewalks along John Street to McArthur Street and Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen asked if there were areas where the city was aiming to put sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Guthrie said all of the streets on the sidewalk plan were intended to have sidewalks on both sides, but the city was trying to take a fair and economic approach to the project to maximize connectibility in the short run.

In other business, two people spoke in favor of the rezoning request for Trinity Day Care on the west side of Lee Drive between Ash and East streets from residential to office and institutional.

The rezoning would allow Trinity to relocate and expand to take in more children for its day care services.

No one spoke during the public hearing for the rezoning of the James Baker property on the south side of U.S. 70 between I-795 and U.S. 117 or the public hearing for the contiguous annexation of property on the southwest corner of the intersection of Cuyler Best and New Hope Roads owned by Best Properties.

The annexation was approved unanimously, and the Planning Commission will prepare its recommendations for the two rezoning requests for the council's Dec. 3 meeting.

Items approved by consent at the meeting included:

* Acquisition of right of way for the Berkeley Boulevard Widening Project

* The noncontiguous annexation petition of HWB of North Carolina for property on the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. 70 and N.C. 581

* Final invoice for the Stoney Creek Stream Enhancement Project

* Street closing request for the Goldsboro Jaycees Christmas Parade Dec. 1

* The final change order for Phase 2 of the Water Treatment Plant Improvement Project

* Adoption of a supplement to the code of ordinances

* Monthly departmental reports.