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Zoning debate splits county


Commissioners engaged in a heated discussion of zoning issues during their meeting Monday night before voting 3-2 to approve applicant Josh Kiser’s request to rezone nearly an acre of land in Ironton Township from residential-suburban to general-business.
Commissioners James Klein and George Arena cast the opposing votes.
The property is located on the south side of N.C. 150, about 200 feet west of Quinlan Lane.
Its proposed use is for retail sales of landscaping products, with pick-up and delivery.
As the Times-News has previously reported, the request has caused divided votes among both the Lincoln County Planning Board members and county commissioners since its public hearing was conducted at the Sept. 12 meeting.
After it was sent back to the planning board — with instructions for members to look at the land-use plan — and then tabled until Monday’s meeting, Zoning Administrator Randy Hawkins presented the board’s new recommendation, which, in a 3-2 vote, was to recommend approval of the request.
Commissioner Alex Patton noted that he had driven by the property and noticed Kiser had already set up his business. In response, Kiser said he was in a “time crunch” with weather setting in and that he figured he had better move forward.
That’s “not the way it works,” Patton told Kiser, later telling him that he “circumvented the process” and almost made him want to vote against his request.
Commissioner Carrol Mitchem stressed that government shouldn’t stand in the way of someone trying to start a business, adding that it was “time to let him do this thing” and noting that it was taking too long to make a decision.
In addressing his own concerns with the rezoning request, Klein stated outright that he was going to vote against it. He then expressed his disappointment with the planning board for having four members absent for the vote and for not looking closely at the land-use plan, as had been requested.
Klein also questioned why the process had taken so long without having gotten anywhere, saying he didn’t understand why it had to be so complicated.
Arena, who emphasized during the discussion that the request would be better-suited for conditional zoning, told the Times-News on Tuesday that he didn’t want to go against the land-use plan and that he wished the planning board had taken a longer look at it.
In elaborating on why he voted against the rezoning, he said he didn’t want to see the N.C. 150 follow the history of old N.C. 16, which many in Denver have criticized as being cluttered and haphazard as a result of insufficient zoning at the time it was being developed. Arena added that he wanted there to be an organized pattern to the businesses along the area in question.
Lincoln County Manager George Wood clarified during the discussion Monday night that board members could not go ahead with conditional zoning unless the applicant was willing to apply for it. When asked, Kiser said he wanted them to proceed with the vote.
In other board of commissioners action at Monday’s meeting:
Commissioners unanimously signed off on a resolution for the North Carolina Tomorrow Grant following a second public hearing for it.
Erma Deen Hoyle, director of the Lincoln County Parks and Recreation Department, presented a recommendation for a contract award for East Lincoln Park improvements, which was passed unanimously.
A declaration of surplus for two rental houses owned by the county that are in poor condition was passed unanimously.
A design and construction agreement for Phase 2 of the Lincoln County Emergency Radio Systems Upgrade Project was unanimously approved following a presentation by Assistant County Manager Martha Lide, in which she provided background information. During discussions, Mitchem expressed concern over how long the technology in place would be effective, calling it a “continuously moving target.” Arena and Wood assured him that the next Federal Communications Commission regulation change wasn’t anticipated for quite a while. Additionally, Wood said the project was really just a continuation of the first phase and that it was “by far the cheapest option we had.”

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