Rezoning requests approved

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

GATESVILLE – After discussing three rezoning requests at their Jan. 23 meeting, the Gates County Board of Commissioners gave their stamp of approval.

The first request came from Susie Valentine of 1136 NC 37 North. She requested her property be rezoned from R-1 (Residential) to RMH-1 (Residential Mobile Home).

Gates County Planning Director Morgan Jethro brought the rezoning request before the Commissioners, saying that the Gates County Planning Board had denied it at their December meeting based on the request falling under spot zoning.

During a public hearing on the matter, Planning Board member Chuck Brothers said this particular request has come before the board on two occasions.

“Her request is to move from one parcel to another, about one-half mile south on land she owns. I do not feel it compromises the integrity of zoning,” Brothers stated. “I voted to approve it. The structure she wants to move is already in the vicinity, the neighborhood, where it is now. It’s nothing new that’s coming in. I understand the meaning of spot zoning and it would apply if this was a new home. But it already exists and has existed in the same neighborhood.”

Another Planning Board member, Joe Greene, said the appropriate thing would be to rezone the whole area.

“It would make it much easier. I’m not opposed to this, but we have to proceed carefully in what we do. One favor sometimes leads to another. Rezone it all so they can place singlewides and doublewides there,” he stated.

Sandra Nickens said she has visited Mrs. Valentine’s home.

“If you have been there recently, there is not a good foundation there. If you were unaware that someone was living in this home, you would perhaps require it to be demolished. Living in a sound house with a good foundation is necessary for this family. It’s something we all would want,” she stated.

Following the public hearing, the commissioners offered their thoughts.

“I have looked at this. Spot zoning is difficult to judge sometimes,” said Commission Chairman Henry Jordan. “We have a pending request from the ABC Board to go from R-1 to C-1. The areas near that are R-1 and agricultural. If you are going to make a case for that, then certainly that would be spot zoning as well. I believe we should recommend to the Planning Board to rezone the whole area there (Valentine’s general neighborhood). It would make it consistent for that neighborhood.”

Commissioner Johnny Hora asked what the area was zoned where the current residence was located. Jethro said it was in a large field, approximately 60 areas, that was A-1 with no individual area (one acre) broken out for a residence.

“By moving it from one place to another, I can’t see where you’ve changed the community, especially since the area where it’s proposed to be moved to is so close to where it currently exists,” Hora stressed. “The status quo is still being maintained. Based on what Mrs. Nickens said this move would be beneficial to the quality of the structure, it will be on a better foundation.”

The adjoining property, according to Jethro, is a singlewide and an older stick-build home. She added that the area was a “hodge-podge” of residential structures – singlewides, doublewides and older single-family stick-build homes.

“That’s the case throughout the county – areas that should have been RMH-1 are R-1,” Hora said. “I don’t know how that happened.”

“I agree, it’s not changing the neighborhood,” said Commissioner Jack Owens.

“This is a very difficult situation. Your heart goes out to Mrs. Valentine. The only thing I disagree with is this isn’t the same as the ABC Board rezoning request,” said Commissioner Linda Hofler.

Jordan motioned to rezone the property to RMH-1 with the understanding that the Planning Board will rezone the entire immediate area to RMH-1.

“I think we should deal only with Mrs. Valentine’s issue for now,” said Hofler. “Some of the other (R-1) property owners there do not want to be rezoned.”

Jordan then amended his motion to approve only Mrs. Valentine’s request to rezone from R-1 to RMH-1. Owens offered a second and the motion was approved without objection.

The board then heard two rezoning requests from the Gates County ABC Board, one for new Eure store and the other regarding an existing store on NC 32 in Corapeake.

George Kittrell, Chairman of the Gates County ABC Board reminded the Commissioners that the widening of US 13/158 caused the Eure store to be demolished since it was in the road improvement’s right-of-way.

“Upon looking for a location for a new store there, we looked at the demographics of the customers using that store,” Kittrell said. “Based on that we decided we needed to find a place within one mile of the old store.”

Upon searching within that area, Kittrell said five parcels were located that were up for sale. He said in meeting with a DOT representative, only one of those parcels is allowed vehicular access from US 13/158.

“We took out an option to purchase this property,” Kittrell said. “We’ve had it surveyed and are ready to move forward with that.”

In regards to the Corapeake store, Kittrell said he has discovered the land there is zoned R-1 and not commercial. Since the original store was at that same location (it has since been destroyed due to an accident and completely rebuilt on the same property), the ABC Board was given a variance to do so.

The Commissioners voted to rezone both properties – changing them from R-1 to C-1.

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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