Town to ramp up zoning

Published 3:52 pm Thursday, May 11, 2017

BELHAVEN — The Town of Belhaven is hoping to see a more active planning/zoning board in the coming years.

At Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, town Manager Woody Jarvis asked the board to consider some changes to the zoning process in Belhaven, starting with the implementation of zoning fee schedules. The town works with the Mid-East Commission to handle permit requests.

Jarvis said he is working with Mid-East Commission planner Ben Rogers to come up with a possible fee schedule. The schedule would need to be approved by the Board of Aldermen. Fees coincide with the type of zoning required in that particular area, from residential and non-residential, to signage and special use.

“We are starting to get inquiries from people that are interested in doing different things in town that will require possible zoning amendments to permit,” Jarvis explained. “We wouldn’t just be reimbursing the Mid-East Commission. We would actually have some ownership that’s part of our work.”

In response to a question from Alderman Yvonne DeRuiz, Jarvis added that the fee schedule decided upon would most likely cover the cost to reimburse Mid-East.

Mayor Adam O’Neal said there are more questions that need to be answered before the town makes any decisions.

“You need some explanation of all of this,” he said. “We need to have Mr. Rogers come to our next town meeting and give us a presentation.”

O’Neal said he would also like to compare a possible fee schedule with surrounding areas to make sure it is on par with those municipalities. Another issue is the lack of activity with Belhaven’s planning board, according to O’Neal.

“We don’t know how those fees compare to other communities, and we don’t want to do things that discourage business, so it’s something that needs to have a lot of knowledge before you start passing things,” he said. “The zoning board hasn’t met for a good while because there hasn’t been anything to meet about.”

Jarvis said the last record of the planning board’s meeting minutes is from May 2015.

“One of the ways to address these (requests) without coming straight to the town council would be to have an active planning board and an active board of zoning adjustment,” Jarvis said.

The board agreed the next step is to invite a Mid-East Commission representative to a town meeting to give a presentation on the matter.