Completed draft of zoning ordinance presented

About 100 Vance County residents, some sporting orange “no Zoning” stickers, showed up at Monday evening’s Vance County Board of Commissioner’s meeting to protest the county-wide zoning project.

Ken Krulik, Vance County Senior Planner and head of the zoning project, began his presentation by stressing to commissioners that the completed draft was not an adopted, final, or approved document.

With the aid of a video projector, Krulik gave an overview of counties with full or partial zoning in place versus counties without zoning. In North Carolina, according to Krulik, 57 counties have full zoning, 21 have partial zoning, leaving 22 with no zoning ordinances in place. Krulik noted that counties surrounding Vance have full or partial zoning.

Krulik stated that the object of zoning is to protect property rights and to protect Vance County from undesirable uses that zoned counties prohibit.

Using a map projected on the back wall of the meeting room, Krulik illustrated the thirteen zoning categories in the Vance County zoning project. He indicated that the map as well as the lastest draft of the ordinance would be available on the county website on the day following the meeting of the county commissioners. It was later indicated that this would be the regular routine for each revision.

Krulik outlined a history of the revisions of the zoning ordinance for commissioners. He also mentioned some added features of the ordinance, such as a hardship provision that would allow landowners to put manufactured houses on their land for infirmed or elderly relatives or their caregivers, screening for adult establishments, salvage yards, and airports, as well as commercial parking. He stated that there had also been discussion of adding minimum housing standards as well as day and night acceptable noise levels.

The senior planner told commissioners that he was trying to make the ordinance as easy and flexible as possible.

County Commissioner Wilbur Boyd asked Krulik how it was possible that a bona fide farm was exempt from restrictions, but yet there were restrictions elsewhere in the ordinance. He also asked how the ordinance would deal with a farm that has a welding shop or a secondary form of income. Krulik replied that zoning deals with new uses. Current activities such as welding and car repair may continue.

Boyd asked about the possibility that a business upon burning down may not be able to rebuild if it was “grandfathered” in. Krulik responded that each area has its own measurement as to how much of an existing business may be destroyed before it may not be rebuilt. He stated that there is a review process in place for such eventualities.

Boyd asked Krulik what would happen if an owner of a farm wanted to put a store on a farm. Krulik responded that it might be possible through rezoning. He informed Boyd that there is an appeal process where the proposed use is justified. When Boyd informed Krulik that a farmer could not put an office building on a farm, Krulik responded that a small office is a permitted secondary use, and that it was being worked on in the revision.

“I think you got a ways to go on it before you can vote on it,” Vance County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Pegram quipped a little later in the discussion.

Krulik commented that he understood that the Citizen’s Advisory Committee would review the document and make revisions. When asked for a time frame, he estimated that the ordinance could be ready in six months. He then noted that the law required two public hearings be held on the ordinance.

Vance County Commissioner Eddie Wright commended Krulik on a “great job”. He commented that no one was trying to dictate to anyone what they can and can’t do on their land. He stated that the zoning ordinance is for the betterment of Vance County.

With the consent of Pegram, the commission then skipped down the agenda to the appointment of members to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The prospective members were John Abbott, the Rev. J.H. Daniels, John Foster, Vincent Jefferson, Rusty McMahon, Thomas Shaw III, Helen Williams, and Wallace Cawthorn. Members were selected based on a number of criteria, such as who signed up, the occupations of the volunteers, and the businesses they work for. No non-profit representative could be found.

The board approved a recommendation to accept the list and to allow the appointment of a non-profit representative when one became available. County Commissioner Deborah Brown asked Krulik to facilitate the committee’s meetings.