Rezoning approved

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

GATESVILLE – Despite a favorable vote of 3-1, approving a rezoning request didn’t come easily here last week.

Picking back up on a request tabled at the Gates County Board of Commissioners’ March 21 meeting, a near half-hour discussion ensued over that 165 acre tract of land, located on US 158 at Cotton Gin Road.

The property is owned by George Lang who made a request to have it rezoned from A1 (Agricultural) to I1 (Industrial). A public hearing was conducted March 21 at which time the Commissioners were left with more questions than answers.

“It was a bit unclear during original discussion, but since that time the landowner has made it clear he wants to proceed with this rezoning,” said Commissioner Jack Owens at last week’s board meeting.

Commissioner Johnny Hora questioned the landowner about rezoning both the timberland and agriculture land….to which Lang affirmed. The timberland is on the west side of the property.

“If something does come in here (an industrial type business) that’s the first parcel we want to offer,” Lang said, referencing the timberland.”

“There was much confusion over this,” stated Dan Lang, George Lang’s brother, who initially raised an issue over the rezoning at the March 21 meeting of the commissioners. “We had a map at the Planning Board that just showed the west side (of the property). Then, at the night meeting (March 21) I was blindsided by the complete map. By not having the discussion with the full thing (map), I think it should go back through (the Planning Board) and iron out all the details.”

Gates County Planning Director Morgan Jethro said she respectively disagreed over the assertion that the map was wrong.

“I hand-drew a map because the GIS would not recognize the larger western side map,” she said. “I drew it to show the western side and the eastern side as the (George) Lang property that was under consideration to be rezoned.”

Planning Board member Linda Hofler said she was confused over the map, despite voting, as did all present at the Planning Board’s Feb. 22  meeting, to approve the rezoning request and forward that suggestion to the Commissioners.

“We all got the same map, but the way it was drawn I thought it was just on the west side,” Hofler said. “Yes, she (Jethro) wrote the word ‘Lang’ on both sides of the road, but I thought that was just to say that was just the Lang property. The only red line I saw was on the west side. Perhaps I should have questioned that.”

Another Planning Board member, Joe Greene, said he was looking at the acreage number, noting the size of the overall tract that was asked to be rezoned.

“That’s what was voted on,” he said.

“We need to do a lot of research on our own in order to get things more accurate,” said Planning Board member Thomas Langston. “There was a question about George and Jill Lang or George Lang Jr.”

“My family is all speaking with one voice,” George Lang replied.

“We have the will of the property owner stated; I don’t see why we can’t move forward on this,” Commissioner Henry Jordan said. “I would make a motion to approve the request to rezone this property.”

Commissioner Jack Owens offered a second to Jordan’s motion.

Hora asked Jordan if his motion was referencing the east and west portions of the property or just the west side (the timberland).

“As presented to us by the Planning Board which is all that they designated,” Jordan answered.

Hora said he didn’t have a problem with the rezoning request either way, but was concerned over comments that some members of the Planning Board may have been “misled” over the map.

“That issue has been clarified by the landowner, who is present, that he wants the east and west sides rezoned,” Jordan said.

“I still think the Planning Board needs to revisit this so that they will be one hundred percent onboard when they vote,” Hora said. “It appears now there was some confusion over the map.”

Jethro reminded the Commissioners that although the property requested by the landowner to be rezoned appears as two separate pieces, it’s all listed under the same parcel number.

“There is no east or west; if you want it split you would have to get a surveyor,” she stated.

“Morgan, you should have had the red lines around all of it,” Hora observed. “You can’t expect people to read your thoughts and your interpretations.”

The measure was approved by a 3-1 vote with Jordan, Owens and Kenneth Jernigan agreeing with the rezoning request. Hora voted no. Board Chairman Graham Twine was absent from the meeting.

There was no mention of how the rezoned property would be used.

Langston suggested that henceforth that property owners making such requests need to be at Planning Board meetings in an effort to answer questions and clear-up any potential confusion.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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