Public gets chance to comment on land-use plan

Published 8:21 pm Friday, August 24, 2007

By Staff
Draft document includes policies addressing growth
Contributing Editor
The public’s views on mooring fields in the Pamlico River off Washington’s waterfront and other land-use related items are being sought by Washington’s City Council.
A public hearing on Washington’s draft land-use plan will be held at 6 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building at 102 E. Second St.
For example, the draft land-use plan for the city, which was crafted by the Planning Board, calls for a sea change when it comes to mooring fields. The draft supports placing mooring fields in some of the city’s waterways. The existing land-use plan does not support doing that.
The updated plan also reflects an increasing development demand on the city’s land, especially its waterfront areas, and addresses how that development should be handled, Holland said.
During an April meeting of the Planning Board, which worked on the draft plan for more than a year, Bobby Roberson, the city’s director of planning and development, said the difference between the revised plan and the existing plan is as different as “night and day.”
Land-use plans are to help guide growth. They help local governments determine where growth should occur, decide what types of growth are appropriate for specific areas and provide strategies and policies that address the following conservation-related policies: public access, conservation, stormwater control, natural hazard areas, water quality and cultural, historical and scenic areas.
Washington’s draft land-use plan includes strategies to help the city prevent commercial growth from encroaching on residential areas and industrial areas. The plan also includes ways to prevent commercial development from following the linear, or strip, method of evolving. The draft proposes the city focus its commercial land uses in three categories — regional commercial nodes, neighborhood commercial nodes and office and institutional nodes.
The draft land-use plan calls for office and institutional land uses to increase sharply in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Making that happen improves the quality of life in the community, John Rodman, another city planner, noted. That’s one of the reasons for implementing a land-use plan, he said.
During a Planning Board meeting in April, Holland said the draft has been reviewed by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, which made several recommendations and changes that are reflected in the latest version of the draft. The revised plan is comprehensive and user-friendly, Holland said. The current plan is outdated and not a suitable document to guide planning decisions by the city in the future, he said.
The revised plan includes the following elements:
The Coastal Area Management Act requires counties in the state’s coastal region to develop land-use plans, which must be updated every five years. Municipalities in a CAMA county come under that county’s land-use plan, unless they opt to develop their own land-use plan. Years ago, Washington chose to develop its own land-use plans.
If the council approves the draft land-use plan Monday, the plan will be sent to the Coastal Resources Commission for its approval. The commission is scheduled to meet Sept. 27-28 to consider the plan and other commission business.