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M’boro studies waterfront development

MURFREESBORO – Every town is always trying to find a way to bring progress to the neighborhood and Murfreesboro is no different.

A special meeting of the Murfreesboro Town Council was held on Wednesday to discuss possible development of the water front and other properties in the town. Murfreesboro officials along with citizens and interested developers from William E. Wood and Associates Realtors attended the meeting.

Bobby Roberson, planning and development director of Washington, NC, was on hand to give recommendations to the board and community.

Roberson shared his experiences and lessons he learned from being a part of Washington’s downtown development. He said the city often ran into problems with land regulations, building density and parking.

“There was a lot of outcry from the public,” said Roberson, concerning the citizens’ desire for buildings located on the same block to be the same height.

That similar concern was echoed by Murfreesboro citizen Gertrude Revelle. She explained while traveling she has seen cities that have lost their history to progress.

“I don’t think we should encroach on history,” she said.

Revelle also expressed concern for local restaurant owners in the area.

“I would not want to run those people out of business,” Revelle said.

All of the developers agreed that in order for development to happen, everyone, including the town, Chowan University and the Murfreesboro Historical Association, had to work together.

“There has to be value to what we do,” said Geary Crist of William E. Wood and Associates Realtors. “Murfreesboro is a piece of clay; we can mold it as long as we communicate. We can make it work for everyone.”

Mayor Lynn Johnson asked Roberson if he thought the flavor of Washington had been lost due to development.

“I don’t think so,” Roberson replied.

Roberson said Washington has a lot of history and noted there were retail shops and a civic center.

Developer Ray Roenker added to Crist’s comments about wanting to work with the Murfreesboro community.

“We’re just saying tell us what you want,” Roenker said. “This is not Reno. You don’t build glass buildings around here, it doesn’t fit here.”

“I recommend a request for proposals and get someone on staff, like a city planner,” said Roberson

Roberson also noted the current wastewater project and suggested to make sure the town could provide sewer hookups before anything was done.

Councilman Bill Theodorakis noted he would like to see completed projects done by the developers.

“I’m all for it,” said Theodorakis. “If it’s done correctly it could be beneficial.”

Johnson described the meeting as “good dialogue.”