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Carswell drops zoning request

County Commissioners held public hearings on several zoning cases and reviewed a case that will not come before them.
Commissioners discussed a request that had come before them in December for Ronny Carswell, who applied to build mini warehouses near Camp Ground Road in Denver.
Carswell withdrew his application after it went through the planning board, where they unanimously approved it.
“He decided to go another route,” said zoning administrator Randy Hawkins.
Carswell recently applied for a non-conforming use, which would not go before the commissioners.
“After the public hearing and the planning board voted in favor of rezoning, neighbors signed off on zoning restrictions to allow mini-warehouses,” Hawkins said.
“I felt our planning board would find the proposed use with a less harmful affect.”
Commissioners expressed displeasure with the new request, as it will not come before them for a vote.
“The applicant had a choice and chose a different route,” said county attorney Jeff Taylor.
Randy Hawkins warned Carswell before he decided to apply for a non-conforming use.
“It could be construed as a run around the commissioners,” Hawkins said.
Commissioner Marie Moore agreed and said the applicant appeared to be going around the commissioner’s back.
“The appearance of this and perception of this doesn’t look good,” she said. “It looks like you’re trying to circumvent the rules.”
Commissioners decided to propose to change the application process, where cases would always go before the commissioners.
“The rules are the rules,” said commissioners Jim Klein. “My inclination is to leave it where it lay, in the hands of the planning board.”
The request went before the planning board Monday night where members voted to approve the request with the condition that the site plan be amended to move the fence to the inside of the barrier.
The commissioners will not have a vote on the case.
In other business, Commissioners discussed an amendment to the Lincoln County Sign Ordinance.
“You drive down 16 and you are inundated with these signs,” said Commissioner Bruce Carlton. “If you drive eight miles you’ll see 30 billboards. Two years ago, there were four.”
Commissioners believed the signs along N.C. 16 are cluttering and polluting the roadside.
“If we don’t do something now, there will be no use later,” Carlton said. “Before it gets past N.C. 16, down N.C 73 and across the county, we need a motion to amend our sign ordinance.”
The provision will not affect signs lawfully placed in correct locations.
The basic sign ordinance went into affect in 1987.
“I’ve talked to people who said when you drive from a neighboring county and see all the boards you know you’re somewhere else,” Carlton said. “There has got to be a better way than to clutter our communities.”
A resolution drafted for the commissioners, states that despite the existing regulations, advertising signs, particularly billboards, have continued to increase in number in Lincoln County and have added to the visual blight on the natural beauty of Lincoln County.
The ordinance bans off-premises advertising signs, or billboards, but will not affect any signs lawfully placed as of the effective date.
Commissioners voted to adopt the ordinance and have asked the Building and Land Development to develop a comprehensive policy concerning long term regulations on billboards.

by Maribeth Kiser

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