Ahoskie planners approve rezoning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2006

AHOSKIE – It looks as though the Ahoskie retail market is about to grow.

The Ahoskie Planning Board approved a rezoning request Wednesday night to make way for a Walgreens Pharmacy. Before becoming final, the request must be approved by the Ahoskie Town Council. According to Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond, the issue will come before the Council at their next scheduled meeting on February 21.

The planning board voted unanimously to recommend to the Ahoskie Town Council that property located on the corner of Memorial Drive and Academy Street be rezoned from R10, multi-family residential, to B2, neighborhood business.

The request was made by local attorney Ernie Carter on behalf of the current landowners of that property and GHK Development, LLC., a New Orleans, La. based retail developer. Carter indicated during his request that GHK Development planned on building a Walgreens Pharmacy on that site. Walgreens is a national drug store chain with over 5,000 locations in 45 states.

“This request is consistent with the way the town of Ahoskie has zoned commercial property,” Carter said during his request. “Commercial growth has tracked along the major transportation arteries in the town.”

The unanimous decision by the Planning Board was not made without plenty of citizen input. Doug Brinkley, who owns property across Memorial Drive from the proposed site, said that he was opposed to the rezoning request.

“My main concern is the traffic havoc that this development would cause at an already very busy intersection. The safety of our citizens should also be taken into consideration.” Brinkley said.

Dr. J.B. Brown echoed Brinkley’s sentiments. Dr. Brown, a resident of West Memorial Drive for almost 60 years, said that traffic congestion is his main concern if the proposed development moves forward as planned.

Hammond reminded the board that their only duty and responsibility was to determine whether or not the parcels of land should be zoned residential or commercial. Traffic flow and particular development should not be a consideration in coming to a decision.

Planning Board member Stan Dixon said any traffic concerns would be addressed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“We should let the DOT make the determination if this location will be safe or not,” Dixon noted. “If they see that it will be unsafe, they will not issue the necessary permits to go forward with the plan.”

After much discussion among the board as to table the matter until another date or either vote yes or no to the request, the motion was made to rezone the property. That motion passed unanimously.

In a related, but separate, request, Dr. M. Scott Edwards asked that a tract of undeveloped land bordered by Academy, Sunset and Myers streets be rezoned from O & I, office and industrial, to B2, neighborhood business. That request was also passed unanimously.

Edwards indicated he has no plans for development on that tract of land.