After three months of fighting, the dream of Greenville landowner Eddie Williams, who is trying to build duplexes for seniors in the Crisp Community, took a step closer to becoming reality Monday night when the Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to rezone his property.
The matter was heard on appeal after the planning board voted against the request at its October meeting despite a favorable recommendation from the Edgecombe County Planning Department staff. At the October meeting, six of the board members were present with two voting against the request, one in favor and three abstaining.
After Monday's unanimous vote, a total of 14.74 acres will be rezoned from AR-30 (agriculture-residential) to R-20 (residential).
Williams first proposed to build 19 duplexes for persons 55 or older on the property. His proposal included an on-site manager and a community center he said would provide health care and educational activities that would be made available to non-residents of the development as well.
Planning board director, Ola Pittman said Williams' proposal doesn't meet the unified development ordinance that requires at least 25 acres for the project.
Although William spoke briefly about his proposal, it was not part of the public hearing.
"The hearing was only about changing from AR-30 to R-20," Pittman explained.
Landowners surrounding the property are against the rezoning.
"I have my rural property there and I go to sell and I got 20 apartments next door. That's not a rural residential area," said landowner John Coda. "It is an urban area. Those are urban dwellings. That's my concern ... This is a rural residential area and I ask that you keep it rural residential."
Mike Mitchell, who also lives in the Crisp community said rezoning should not be imposed on existing residents.
Wayne Corbett wants what's best for the community.
"Every time I drive that road, I see new houses — new property," he said. "That's growth. My question is, is it going to be good for the area? Good for the people who are living there? I have son, I have grandchildren. Are they going to benefit? Is it going to be a future development for the good? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is no, then forget it. We empower you (commissioners) as voters to make the decisions for us."
Williams was ecstatic with the board's decision. He said he understands his first proposal was not aligned with the Unified Development Code.
He must resubmit the plan, which will be reviewed by the planning staff and a technical review committee. After that, the plan will be submitted to the planning board for its approval or disapproval.
"We are over one hurdle and I thank God for that," he said. "Now, we have to decide how many duplexes we can build to stay within our guidelines. If I have to reduce it to 15 (duplexes) then I will reduce it to 15. I'm just glad that we got it approved. They were fighting it tooth and nail."
In other action:
• Selected Commissioner Leonard Wiggins as chairman of the board for the second consecutive term. Wiggins replaced Charlie Harrell, who was the co-chairman. Monday night, Harrell nominated Jonathon Felton for the position. Felton received the nod from his fellow commissioners.
• The board approved a resolution that will allow a quarter-cent sales tax, which will generate revenue to help fund the construction of two buildings for Edgecombe Community College, one in Tarboro and one in Rocky Mount. Voters approved the tax during the last election by a margin of 360 votes.
State statues require at least 10 days public notice of the intent to levy the tax. At least 90 days is required between the adoption of the resolution and the actual levy of the tax. The board will have a special called meeting Dec. 18 to meet the target date.
• Adopted a resolution that will allow the North Carolina. Board of Transportation to dedicate the bridge on Kingsboro Road over U.S. Highway 64 as the Dr. Joseph Stephen Hoard III Bridge.
Hoard served on the county board of commissioners and the Tarboro town council. He was an influential member of the Tarboro community. Hoard died in August 2011.
• The Kingsboro Industrial Sites received CSX select site designation. The designation confirms that standard land use issues have been addressed and that the site is ready for industrial development. The board are hoping that the designation will boost the county's chances of landing new industries on the site.