Second vote needed to determine outcome of sand-mining matter

Published 8:57 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Washington City Council’s first vote — a 3-2 vote — on a motion to amend the city’s zoning regulations to allow mining operations in the residential/agricultural-20 zones was not enough for it to pass.

For that motion to have passed, two thirds of the council members would have needed to vote for it on the first reading of the proposed amendment. When the council takes up the issue at its next meeting, a simple majority vote is needed for the amendment to be enacted. Council members Virginia Finnerty, Richard Brooks and Roland Wyman voted in the affirmative during the council’s meeting Monday. Council members Doug Mercer and William Pitt voted in the negative.

The city’s Planning Board, at its last meeting, recommended the council not amend the zoning regulations.

During its March meeting, the board decided it wanted to discuss the request with B.E. Singleton & Sons and its consultant, Harry Bailey, before making a recommendation to the council, which as final say on amending the zoning ordinances. B.E. Singleton & Sons wants to mine sand on a parcel of land on Cherry Lane Road, which is located within the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction. Roper-based Sly Fox Farm LLC owns the land, which is on the west side of Cherry Lane Road. Fly Fox Farm has no objection to the land being mined for sand.

Dot Moate, a Planning Board member, told the council the board believes mining operations are not appropriate in the RA-20 zone because of its residential nature.

“We were appalled when we looked at the map that showed the RA-20 zoning — how far it extended in the city and the extra-territorial jurisdiction. Anyway, we just felt like that mining should not be across the street from you or me,” Moate told the council. “If we allowed in in the RA-20 zone anywhere, that could happen. We did have several members of the subdivision right across the street from this particular piece of property come and oppose it. They were very concerned. So, we went along with them, in addition to the fact that we felt there was too much property that was RA-20 that would allow this kind of mining. … We just didn’t feel it was the right thing to do.”

At the board’s May meeting, residents near the proposed sand mine site voiced concerns with noise, pollution of well-water sources and increased heavy truck traffic in the area near the proposed sand mine,

John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, told the council that allowing mining in an RA-20 zone would not automatically result in mining activities. Before someone could begin mining an area, that person would have to obtain a special-use permit from the city’s Board of Adjustment. Under that provision, requests to begin mining operations would be addressed on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Mayor Mac Hodges said he does not see a problem with amending the zoning rules to allow mining operations in an RA-20 zone Hodges said the mining operations he’s familiar with are not near residential areas. Hodges said he does not believe there are many residences near the proposed sand mine off Cherry Lane Road.

The council members who favor amending the zoning regulations to allow mining in the RA-20 zone indicated they believe requiring a special-use permit for a mining operation provides a layer of review to determine if mining is appropriate in a specific area within an RA-20 zone. Council members who oppose amending the zoning rules indicated they don’t believe mining operations are appropriate within the RA-20 zone.

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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