Divergent groups speaking together

Published 6:56 am Wednesday, June 13, 2007

By Staff
The Beaufort County Committee of 100 and the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation may differ on some key issues. However, both groups agree on at least two things — there is a need for some zoning and building height rules in place in unincorporated Beaufort County.
The fact the two groups agree is interesting. When it came to plans to expand the mining at PCS Phosphate the two clearly came down on different sides. The Committee of 100 supported the permit PCS requested. PTRF and its 2,500 members argued that other sites would be less damaging to the environment and opposed the PCS request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
When it comes to zoning however, the two sides are in agreement, even if they are for different reasons. The Washington-Beaufort County Board of Realtors and the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce are also on the same page. That’s a message the county needs to listen to.
PTRF argues that buildings as high as 13 stories have no place in Beaufort County.
The Committee of 100 also is concerned about the very same things. And a resolution it adopted says the situation will get worse before it gets better unless something is done.
The Committee is concerned that the county will adopt conceptual plans for future development but won’t follow up and adopt the nuts and bolts regulations that would give them some teeth.
The resolution then listed seven items that are needed to make for a better future. The list includes a height ordinance in areas where growth is a potential problem. It also called for a zoning ordinance or at least a unified development ordinance in areas that will experience the pressure of growth.
The Committee resolution is on behalf of 597 members. The PTRF version speaks for 2,500 members. The vote by the Board of Realtors can be seen as carrying the weight of 182 members who make their living from real estate. The chamber resolution speaks for 326 members. There were also 486 people who signed an Internet petition calling for the county to look into zoning and height restrictions.
The County Board of Commissioners can listen to those people now or they can wait and listen to them when they cast ballots again. Land use rules need to be adopted.