Northampton approves zoning issues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2006

JACKSON – The loud sigh of relief Tuesday afternoon came from the Northampton County Commissioners.

After nearly one year of dealing with changes in zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations, the Board put the final three proposed changes to rest Tuesday afternoon.

&uot;We have discussed this on several occasions without a definitive conclusion,&uot; Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) said. &uot;I hope with all my heart we are about to resolve this issue.&uot;

The first issue the Board had to resolve was an ordinance that would allow garages in the front yard of residential waterfront lots. The Northampton County staff suggested limiting the height of the garage to one story and not allowing fixed steps to be affixed to the garage.

The Northampton County Planning Board, however, objected to the restrictions and passed the new ordinances with the deletion of the provisions for one story and fixed stairs.

Commissioners discussed the issue, but could not come to a conclusion as to whether or not to follow the planning board recommendation.

After a lengthy discussion, Economic Development Executive Director Gary Brown suggested simply changing the garages to a permitted use instead of a conditional use and commissioners agreed.

Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd) made the motion to make the change with Commissioner Fannie P. Green (D-5th) offering the second. It passed without objection.

The second zoning ordinance on which commissioners had to render a decision was to change the pitch of the main roof on all residential structures from a minimum rise of four inches for each 12 inches of horizontal run to five inches. The measure also removed the exceptions for the rule and provided a provision to exempt singlewide manufactured homes.

The planning board voted to make the changes, but rejected the five inches of horizontal run.

Commissioners decided to follow the staff recommendation and make the change to the five-inch pitch. Greene made the motion with Commissioner Robert V. Carter (D-4th) offering the second. It passed unanimously.

The final decision came on a controversial proposal to remove the requirement of contour lines at intervals of five feet for properties located in the watershed zoning districts.

Before the decision was reached Tuesday, citizen John Sapp appeared before the board asking them to look unfavorably on the proposal.

Sapp said he wanted to know why contour lines were a problem and stressed that it did not cause more expense for developers.

&uot;These contour lines need to be in the watershed,&uot; he said.

Brown said he suggested the commissioners follow the planning board recommendation to keep the contour lines as they are in the current subdivision regulations.

Greene made a motion to follow the planning board and staff recommendation with Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) offering a second. The motion passed by a unanimous vote.