Board split over regulations

Published 8:51 am Tuesday, July 12, 2011

JACKSON — A second decision regarding an amendment to the Northampton County Subdivision Regulations will come at the next meeting of Northampton County Board of Commissioners.

Last Wednesday, a public hearing was held to take comments once again on a proposed amendment which would eliminate the maximum number of driveways and road connections allowed by the regulations, with the exception of US and NC designated roads along with River and Jackson Bypass roads.

At their April 18 meeting, the board shot down the proposed amendment submitted by a developer’s group in a 3-2 vote, siding with the Planning Board that gave the amendment a non-favorable recommendation citing “safety issues and poor development practices.”

Currently, Article VIII, Section A of the Subdivision Regulation allows only two driveway connections and one road connection per parent tract on record with the county as of December 8, 2002.

The commissioners decided to revisit the issue after receiving a letter from Phillip Moncure of Moncure Mobile Homes, who said the commissioners seemed confused  and they “did not fully understand what the amendments contained.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Planning & Zoning Administrator William Flynn presented the matter to the public and the commissioners.

“The county Economic Development Director Gary Brown has asked that if you approve (the amendment) to add State Road 1200, which is Lebanon Church Road, to that due to some proposed light industrial activity that’s going to take place there,” said Flynn.

Flynn came with evidence of several roads that are exempted from the current ordinance.

“When I found that we were going to have this meeting, I started doing a little more research,” he said. “I started looking at different roads in the county, because we do have some exemptions, it’s just not straight-forward.”

Flynn said he started to look at the main exceptions to the ordinance (if the parcel is on a loop road or dead end road).

“If it is (one or the other), there are no restrictions,” he said.

Upon looking for specific roads that met those exemptions, Flynn was able to compile a list of 83 roads, approximately one-third of the named roads in the county.

“The other roads in the county that would also likely have exemptions on them, if there is a road that happens to parallel a watercourse of some sort, say a swamp or the run of a swamp, if that’s along the backside of the property, that property can also have an unlimited number of driveways,” he said. “There are exemptions that do apply that allow development.”

Flynn added that from July 2009 to the last Planning Board meeting there have been approximately 66 subdivision lots that have received final approval. He added there is one single 99 lot subdivision off Highway 46 that received preliminary approval in September 2009. Wynn said that developer who has purchased the land for the development has contacted his office for an extension to apply for the final approval.

Flynn referred to a report generated last week by the Building Inspections Department for the state which states that between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011, there were 29 new manufactured homes placed in Northampton County.

Flynn noted the current ordinance with driveway limitations have not deferred growth in the sense of land being developed.

“These are numbers that kind of dispute that growth isn’t happening, but it does show we’re not bringing in new homes and I don’t think that’s the fault of not having available land, I think that’s there,” he said.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill thanked Flynn for bringing those numbers forward as she had requested the meeting minutes for the Planning Board.

“Those numbers that you have just presented are exactly correct,” she said. “Our subdivision regulations have not caused a restriction of development in the county in terms of having a place for people to live.”

Commission Chair Fannie Greene along with Commissioner Chester Deloatch disagreed with Flynn and Spruill’s sentiments.

“In the next 15 years what percent of growth do you think Northampton County will have,” Deloatch questioned Flynn. “Very little.”

“I’m looking at a lot of roads on this list and a lot of them are private roads, a lot of these would not be an option (for development) in my opinion,” Greene said.

No public comments were offered from those in attendance and public hearing was closed. The commissioners will address the proposed amendment with a decision at the next meeting.