Board looking at development-related issues

Published 5:00 pm Monday, January 25, 2016

Washington’s Planning Board, during its meeting tonight, is expected to work on two tasks assigned to it by the Washington City Council.

The board, according to its tentative agenda, is slated to discuss the conversion of single-family homes in the historic district into multi-family dwellings and downtown parking for multi-family structures in the central business district. Both issues surfaced at previous council meetings in recent months. No other business is listed on the board’s tentative agenda. The board meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

At its Jan. 11 meeting, the council decided to have the Planning Board explore off-street parking in the downtown area for people who live in the upper floors of commercial buildings. The board’s review is expected to include whether the city should sell or lease parking spaces that would be used by people living in those upper floors.

At the Jan. 11 meeting, City Manager Bobby Roberson told the council that if the city wants to pursue multi-family dwellings in certain areas of the city, including the central business district, and encourage people to live in the upper floors of downtown buildings, it must address the issue of off-street parking to accommodate residents of those dwellings.

Roberson suggested the council ask the Planning Board to research the issue, including finding out how other cities and towns address the matter, and provide the council with feedback and possible options regarding off-street parking.

During the Jan. 11 meeting, Mayor Mac Hodges said, “When you’re obtaining loans for apartments, financers get squeamish when you don’t have a dedicated parking place and you might end up parking on the street.” Roberson also noted that investors in multi-family dwellings in the downtown area are reluctant to underwrite such dwellings without off-street parking available to residents of those dwellings.

In November 2015, the council asked the Planning Board to expedite its review of the section of the city’s zoning laws regarding the conversion of single-family dwellings into multi-family dwellings in the B1H (business historic) zoning district. At its Nov. 9 meeting, the council decided not to conduct a public hearing Nov. 23 regarding a temporary moratorium on such conversions. The Planning Board recommended conducting such a hearing.

In September 2015, Don Stroud asked for a moratorium on converting single-family dwellings in the B1H district into multifamily dwellings. Stroud contended the city’s existing zoning ordinances prohibit such conversions in that district. The council sent the matter to the Planning Board for review and a recommendation. Stroud opposed plans for the house at 121 E. Second St. into several apartments. About eight people at the September meeting supported Stroud.

California-based McLean Investment Co. LLC bought the house Aug. 28 for $171,000, according to Beaufort County deed records and other real-estate transaction records. The owners told the council they were told by city officials they could proceed with their project. Several days after that meeting, a building permit was issued for the project, which is under way.

The house has a history of being used as a multi-family dwelling.

The city’s zoning ordinances prohibit converting single-family homes in residential districts into multi-family homes. The Planning Board has been mulling whether to prohibit such conversions in the B1H district.





About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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