Rezoning request denied

Published 5:39 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

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WINTON – A request to rezone over four acres of land along US 13 from Residential / Agricultural to Commercial Highway has been denied.

Based upon a recommendation from the county’s Planning Board, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last week to turn down the rezoning request submitted by Lee O. Brooks, Jr. The property in question is

4.24 acres on the east side of US 13 near the intersection of Hall Siding Road.

Hertford County Planning Director Sara Turner said the Planning Board met on March 8 at which time a public hearing was conducted regarding the rezoning request. Turner said 11 individuals that owned property in that area attended the public hearing and voiced their objections to the request. Another property owner called in to the meeting and also objected.

At the close of the public hearing, Turner said Planning Board Chairman F. Garry Lewter read from a list of proposed findings, saying the board had reviewed documentation, maps, and case summaries dealing with spot zoning and determined that the land in question is not favorable for a Commercial Highway District.

The Planning Board also reviewed permitted and special uses for a Commercial Highway District from where they determined the land was not favorable for all commercial permitted uses as outlined in the county’s Zoning Ordinance.

Additionally, Turner said the Planning Board, in its findings, said the land does not have a peculiar suitability for commercial purposes; the land is not an extension of an existing Commercial Highway District; and the District Zoning is not consistent with the Land Use Plan for Development.

Those findings were adopted by the Planning Board, who then voted unanimously to recommend to the county’s board of commissioners to deny the request by Brooks to rezone the property.

In her presentation to the commissioners last week, Turner said Brooks purchased the property in July of 2019. She stated there is not a residence on the property. It does contain a 3,600 square foot building, constructed in 1960, that is considered by the Tax Assessors Office as “commercial” in nature. Brooks used that building for his Barber Shop Academy, which has now relocated out of the county.

“This property is surrounded by a Residential/Agricultural District and will not be an extension of an existing Commercial Highway District,” Turner stated. “The nearest Commercial Highway District is located nearly three-quarters of one mile to the north.”

At last week’s public hearing, Turner read messages submitted by four individuals who were not in favor of the rezoning request. One such message urged the commissioners to keep the neighborhood “small, quiet, and residential.”

Bradley King, another resident of that neighborhood, attended last week’s public hearing where he voiced his opposition over the possible rezoning.

“I didn’t mind the barber shop there, but I don’t now what’s going to come next,” King stressed. “I’ve lived in that neighborhood since I was a young boy and it’s a quiet neighborhood and I want to keep it that way. I don’t want something there that’s going to mess it up.”

Brooks said when he purchased the property in 2019, he was under the impression that it was already zoned commercial.

“Now my hands are tied because there’s absolutely nothing I can do with this property unless it’s rezoned,” Brooks stated. “I do understand the concerns of the community. If it isn’t rezoned, the county can purchase it from me and make it a community center and playground.”

Commissioner Andre Lassiter asked Brooks was he informed of what zoning district that property was in when he purchased it in 2019.

“They told us it was RA 30 (Residential/Agricultural), but I didn’t know what that meant,” Brooks answered. “We looked at the guidelines and everything we were planning to do in that building [at that time] was permitted. I now can’t make it an events center because it’s not zoned commercial.

“It’s a commercial building in a RA 30 district; we were told we could have a barber academy there and an events center,” Brooks continued, adding that an events center alone is not listed under a RA 30 or commercial district.

“Who told you that,” Lassiter inquired.

“The [county’s] building inspector,” Brooks said.

With the purchase price of the land plus renovations to the building, Brooks said he has invested approximately $200,000.

“So, when you had the barbering academy there, you could also use it for an events center and there was no problem with that,” asked Lassiter.

“That is correct, because the barbering academy had a space big enough to rent out,” Brooks stated. “We’ve had several events there with no problem. I stepped outside to see if there was any noise and less than 100 feet you couldn’t hear anything.”

King disagreed with the level of noise at the facility during an event, saying he could hear it while inside his home.

Brooks said without the rezoning, he will look to sell the property.

In a 5-0 vote, the commissioners upheld the Planning Board’s findings and to disapprove the rezoning the request.

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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