Rezoning requests approved

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 10, 2003

AHOSKIE – An Ahoskie man voiced concern here Tuesday over a rezoning request for a parcel of land on the western edge of town.

Speaking during a public hearing conducted by the Ahoskie Town Council, Kevin Cunningham wanted to know if the proposed construction of a funeral home on NC 561 West, across the street from the Catholic Church, would create a new flood zone area in his neighborhood – Pine Ridge Road.

&uot;I do not oppose (construction),&uot; he said in reference to a request from Larry Vann to rezone a 17.5 acre tract from Residential to Office and Institutional (O&I). &uot;But what assurances do we have when once the dirt begins to move on the project that we won’t be in a newly created flood plain?&uot;

He continued, &uot;What, other than purchasing flood insurance, will protect us from becoming the next area to flood in Ahoskie?

Cunningham also wanted to know if impact studies would be forthcoming concerning increased traffic in that area of town.

&uot;When that becomes a viable commercial property, I can see an additional traffic in an area already busy with traffic from the high school and the elementary school just down the road,&uot; he noted.

Ahoskie Town Manager Russell Overman answered Cunningham by saying, &uot;I cannot provide you with any assurances,&uot; said Overman. &uot;I’m not for certain where the water drains off this property, but it appears to me, and I’m not an engineer, that the lay of the land would lead me to believe than the water drains in the direction of the Ahoskie Creek.&uot;

Overman added, &uot;As far as the traffic is concerned, I agree that NC 561 West is busy with traffic going to and from the two schools, but I can’t answer what type of traffic increase you will notice with the proposed new business.&uot;

Vann, an Ahoskie Town Councilman who earlier asked to be excused from participating in the discussion or voting on the issue, did reply to the traffic concerns.

&uot;I don’t think our traffic would cause any concerns,&uot; said Vann, an employee at Reynolds Funeral Home, the business that plans to move from its current location on North Maple Street to the new site if the rezoning request is approved. &uot;Under normal circumstances, what traffic we have would not be at times when school is in session.&uot;

Once the discussion died down, the public hearing was closed and the meeting moved back into open session. There, Councilman Ronald Gatling offered a motion to accept the Ahoskie Planning Board’s recommendation to rezone the property from residential to O&I. The measure passed by a 4-0 vote.

In related matter, Council members also approved a rezoning request for an eight-acre parcel located on NC 561(West First Street) directly across from Hertford County High School.

Originally, Bob Rowe and Tim Newsome, representatives of RNN Land Development, LLC, made a request before the Planning Board in July to rezone that land from Residential to Commercial. However, that plan was met with opposition from residents along Pine Ridge Road.

According to Overman, no action was taken at the meeting as a motion to grant the request died for the lack of a second. However, following the meeting, Rowe and Newsome discussed their plans with those residents and it was agreed that the rezoning request would be changed to O&I.

At its August meeting, the Planning Board granted the request change, along with adding three houses and the old store, all located on the road front, to O&I.

On Tuesday, Town Council members voted 5-0 in favor of following the Planning Board’s recommendation for a change from Residential to O&I.

Newsome, who was present at the meeting, said RNN Land Development has a prospective buyer for the eight acres. In regards to the remaining 30 acres on that particular tract of land, Overman said plans have been submitted for construction of single-family housing units.