City rezones 3 acres in ETJ

The Henderson City Council unanimously voted to rezone three acres at 36 St. Andrews Church Road from residential to neighborhood commercial use at Monday’s regular meeting.

The vote followed a required public hearing on the proposed ordinance.

City Planning Director Erris Dunston introduced the ordinance, informing council members that it was the consensus of the Planning Board that the tract should have been rezoned at the time the ETJ was taken in by the city.

Henderson City Council member Bernard Alston questioned the proposed ordinance, asking City Attorney John Zollicoffer how the rezoning differed from spot rezoning. The attorney replied that spot zoning is a matter of relativity, and that since a three acre tract was under consideration, the ordinance was not spot zoning. Zollicoffer stated that the tract in question was, in fact, larger than some that have been rezoned in the past.

Alston asked whether there is a provision for continued use of the land.

Zollicoffer replied that there is, except in the case of a 50% or greater loss of property from fire or amortization.

The Land Planning Committee and the Planning Department are currently in the process of developing an amortization ordinance for non-compliant auto repair facilities in residential areas.

Alston stated that he understood why the request was being made, but he questioned what would happen in the future.

Zollicoffer replied to Alston that that was up to the council. He reminded the council that the auto repair facility on the tract in question was in existence before the city exercised the ETJ.

Henderson City Council member Garry Daeke acknowledged that it was known to the original planning board during the time the ETJ was exercised that not all of the initial zoning that was done was going to be appropriate.

“When the next citizen comes, how do we distinguish this one from that one?” Alston asked the council.

After Mayor Clem Seifert declared the public hearing open, Charles Bowman, owner of the property under consideration, spoke to the council. He told the council that his request was not spot zoning and gave examples of places in Vance County with zoning situations similar to his request. He told the council that he did not understand why the property was zoned residential, as the use has always been commerical, and it is surrounded by businesses.

Bowman and that property have been at the center of the lengthy debate over an amortization ordinance aimed at removing or restricting auto repair facilities in residential areas.

Council member Lynn Harper commented that although Bowman’s request seemed logical, she wondered what the council would do if others who are forced to close because of the amortization ordinance come before the council.

“Are we setting a precedent we can’t reverse?” she asked.

“You can consider each one individually,” Zollicoffer answered.

Before the vote, council member Mary Emma Evans indicated that she would support the rezoning as well.