Council to consider extending moratoriums

Published 8:27 pm Friday, April 13, 2007

By Staff
Development of Bypass corridor, rooftop additions subjects of hearings
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council will conduct public hearings on whether the city should extend two moratoriums related to development when it meets Monday.
The Planning Board is recommending the council continue the temporary moratorium on approving development on properties within 500 feet on either side of the U.S. Highway 17 bypass corridor boundary within the city’s jurisdiction. The council implemented the moratorium in July 2006. If continued, the moratorium would end Aug. 6.
The Planning Board also recommends the council continue the moratorium on rooftop development in the areas included in the city’s business-historic zone. The council implemented that in the fall of 2006. If extended, the moratorium would end July 16.
In early 2006, the council began discussing the need to protect the bypass corridor from unwanted development. Existing land-use control ordinances are not adequate to respond to expected increased development adjacent to the bypass, according to the city. Land uses along the bypass right-of-way are expected to include, but not be limited to, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette, who made protection of the bypass corridor part of her election campaign in 2005, said the city must “consider some landscaping” requirements for the corridor. Jennette and other city officials have said they want the corridor to develop in a way that’s attractive. They don’t want the corridor lined with all kinds of development.
Placing a moratorium on rooftop development in the areas included in the city’s business-historic zone, gives the council and mayor time to study how such development could affect the city’s effort to protect the city’s history and historical buildings from inappropriate development and support appropriate economic-development opportunities at the same time, city officials said last fall.
At a council meeting in September, Michael Overton, a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, suggested the city put such a moratorium in place until it determines how best to manage rooftop additions that could change downtown Washington’s skyline. Overton noted then that several downtown projects such as The George — Little Inn at Washington and The Fowle at 189 West Main call for rooftop commercial and residential uses.
Overton told the council the city needs a policy that sets out guidelines for rooftop additions.
The moratorium will apply to all land parcels shown on Beaufort County tax records “effective as of July 11, 2006 which are within the City of Washington planning jurisdiction,” according to a city document.
The imposition of a moratorium on rooftop additions does not restrict the sale of property in the business-historic district or prevent new construction in the district, a city document notes.
The hearings on the proposed extensions begin at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.