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Guidelines target new development

By Staff
Strategies will help protect two districts from unwanted growth
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
In an effort to better manage development around two interchanges that will be part of the U.S. Highway 17 bypass at Washington, the Washington City Council changed zoning classifications of 121 properties in those interchange areas.
The action came during the council’s meeting Monday night. No one spoke against the rezonings during the public hearing on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Planning Board continues to finalize guidelines for development in those proposed highway interchange overlay districts. The board has been working on them regularly for several months, said Steve Moler, a member of the board’s subcommittee charged with developing the guidelines.
Moler said the zoning changes give property owners more options when it comes to using their properties than the former zoning classifications provided them.
In January, the council imposed a 121-day moratorium on development located in the districts. That moratorium expired May 14. 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 corridor are expected to include, but not be limited to, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional.
The Planning Board requested the council reinstate a moratorium on development in those areas, but the council took no action on that request. Instead, council members urged the Planning Board to complete its work on the proposed guidelines as soon as possible. At its August meeting, the council may consider renewing the moratorium for up to 90 days.
Councilman Archie Jennings said the moratorium, if renewed, should be lifted before its expiration date if the guidelines are completed and approved by the council before the 90-day limit on the moratorium. Lifting the moratorium would clear the way for development to occur in those districts, he said.
Bobby Roberson, the city’s director of planning and development, told the council the final draft of the guidelines could be ready in time for the council to consider them for approval in August. The latest draft of the guidelines was included in the council’s agenda book for its Monday meeting.
Mercer said he has some concerns with some elements of the guidelines.
One of the two interchange overlay districts for the bypass corridor will be located where the bypass intersects U.S. Highway 264 near the southern end of Whispering Pines Road. The other overlay district will be located where the bypass intersects U.S. Highway 17 adjacent to the northern end of Whispering Pines Road.