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Council OKs land-use plan

By Staff
Speakers urge officials to protect, preserve open space, waterfront
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City Council unanimously voted on Monday to forward the city’s revised land-use plan to the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission for its review and adoption.
The commission is scheduled to consider the land-use plan at its Sept. 27-28 meeting.
During a public hearing on the revised land-use plan, several people made it clear they want the plan to help the city preserve, if not enhance, the public’s access to the Pamlico River, particularly along Stewart Parkway, Havens Gardens and the open space between the N.C. Estuarium and Harding Square.
Crisp and Joe Taylor, who owns property along the waterfront, urged city officials not to sell city-owned land along the waterfront for commercial development purposes.
At Monday’s meeting, Taylor urged the council to “preserve the waterfront for the public.”
Dale Holland, representing Holland Consulting Planners, told the council the land-use plan includes policies that are “more specific, more definitive” than previous land-use plans implemented by the city.
The land-use plan, 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.
Several speakers favored the plan’s call for establishing 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 increased development demand on the city’s land, especially its waterfront areas, and addresses how that development should be handled, Holland said.
Bill Sykes, who owns property downtown and keeps a sailboat anchored in the river, said he’s pleased the land-use plan includes a water-use plan and harbor management plan. Sykes said he supports the land-use plan because it “further enhances access” to public-trust waters off the city’s shoreline.
Heather Jacobs, representing the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation and who serves as the foundation’s riverkeeper, said she takes comfort with the land-use plan in that it calls for the city to implement measures that should help prevent stormwater runoff from degrading the river’s water quality. Jacobs also said she has concerns with the land-use plan’s language in regard to providing access to the water. She believes the land-use plan should recognize that boaters are not the only people who need access to the water.
Land-use plans are used 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 issues: public access, conservation, stormwater control, natural hazard areas, water quality and cultural, historical and scenic areas.
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.
For additional coverage of the meeting, including more details on the public hearing regarding the land-use plan, see future editions.