05/08/13 — Planning Board gets power back from county commission

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Planning Board gets power back from county commission

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 8, 2013 1:51 PM

Changes to Wayne County's subdivision ordinance were approved before a full house Tuesday during Wayne County commissioners' first venture into evening meetings.

But it was a room full mostly of county employees waiting to defend budget amendments and supporters of the Mount Olive library project, which was on the agenda.

The agenda briefing, that was to have started at 3 p.m., was delayed for several minutes because of problems with streaming the meeting's audio on the Internet.

After the briefing, commissioners went behind closed doors to confer with County Attorney Borden Parker at 3:20 p.m. and did not return to open session until 4:20 p.m. -- 20 minutes past the scheduled 4 p.m. meeting start and five minutes past the scheduled start of a public hearing on the amendment to the subdivision ordinance.

No one from the public spoke during the brief hearing on the amendment, which was later approved by commissioners.

The board took no action following the hearing, but later in the meeting, Commissioner Joe Daughtery made a motion to adopt the changes that returned some authority to the Planning Board and planning director, which had been removed several years ago by a Democratic-controlled Wayne County commission.

The changes allow the planning director to give final approval to certain minor subdivision plats that do not exceed two lots on a secondary road. Variance requests would have to be approved by the Planning Board.

It also grants authority to the Planning Board to approve minor subdivisions. However, developers whose plats are not approved by the Planning Board can appeal to county commissioners.

Commissioner John Bell, a member of the board that gave those powers to the commission, cast the only vote against Daughtery's motion, which was approved 6-1.

Prior to the vote, Bell told the board that he would vote against the amendment.

"I am a firm believer that the county commissioners can delegate authority, but they should not delegate their responsibility," he said. "I think that is what we are doing here tonight -- delegating our responsibility to a third party."

Tuesday's evening session, which adjourned at 8:30 p.m., was the first of three planned evening sessions. The others will be held June 4 and July 2.

The board is experimenting with the evening meetings to see how practical they might be. They will begin with an agenda briefing at 3 p.m. The meeting will start at 4 p.m. and public comments at 6 p.m.

The second meeting of the month will continue to start at 8 a.m. with the agenda briefing and the meeting at 9 a.m. Public comments will start at 10 a.m.