Commissioners deny rezoning requests

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 5, 2007

GATESVILLE – Gates County Commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday against approving zoning requests made by 81 citizens who had sought to have their lots designated as Residential Mobile Home subdivisions (RMH-1).

The vote came after Gates County Planning Director Randall Cahoon informed the board of a ruling made Friday by the North Carolina Institute of Government on the recent rezoning request.

&uot;For this board to consider each request as individual reclassifications would be illegal,&uot; Cahoon said. &uot;The board would have to prove a reasonable basis for each request, or else it amounts to what is known as spot zoning.&uot;

Cahoon cited two decisions previously presented before the state Supreme Court to support the Institute’s decision.

After Cahoon had presented his findings to the board, commissioner David Brown made a motion to deny the requests.

Brown’s motion was met with a delay before commissioner L. Frank Rountree seconded the motion.

Before the motion went to a vote, Dan Bazemore, a property owner who has been openly critical of the current verbiage of the zoning ordinance, asked to address the board.

&uot;I think this board should look at the map and the way that it’s zoned,&uot; Bazemore said. &uot;These properties should’ve been zoned as RMH-1 to start with.&uot;

Bazemore contends that at the time the area in question was zoned there were a total of 63 mobile homes as opposed to only 48 stick-built homes.

&uot;The stick-built homes should’ve been the ones to adjust,&uot; Bazemore said. &uot;Not the other way around.&uot;

After Bazemore had addressed the board, commissioner J.S. Pierce called for a vote on the issue.

Commissioners Brown and Rountree voted in favor of the motion, which would deny the citizen’s requests.

Commissioners Wade Askew and Kenneth Jernigan voted against the motion, leaving Pierce with the swing vote.

After acknowledging the split, Pierce sided with Brown and Rountree to deny the current requests.

&uot;Based on what the planning director has presented to us, I would have to vote to deny these requests,&uot; Pierce said. &uot;&uot;By no means does that mean we will not look into these requests individually.&uot;

Pierce’s vote opened the door to have the current zoning ordinance ratified after a public hearing is conducted February 28 at the county courthouse.

Commissioner Brown spoke of the need to bring closure to the matter.

&uot;We need to get this ordinance passed,&uot; Brown said. &uot;There is quite a bit the public has been misinformed about and we need to do whatever we can do to move forward.&uot;

Cahoon agreed with Brown.

&uot;There are numerous safeguards for property owners,&uot; Cahoon said. &uot;No one is going to be driven off of their property.&uot;

The majority of the rezoning requests from citizens came in lieu of a new zoning ordinance proposed by the planning office last year.

Rules and laws regarding new mobile homes being brought into Gates County sparked a backlash from citizens who felt as if the new ordinance was infringing on their rights as property owners.