Zoning amendment request for mining operations withdrawn

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A council chamber packed with citizens wearing orange ribbons awaited the Washington City Council during its monthly meeting on Monday. The group’s unified purpose was to make their voices heard during a public hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would have paved the way for mining operations near their neighborhoods.

That public hearing, however, never happened.

Washington Mayor Mac Hodges began the meeting with a request to amend the agenda to cancel the public hearing. According to Washington City Attorney Franz Holscher, the applicant, B.E. Singleton and Sons, had withdrawn its zoning amendment request prior to Monday’s meeting.

While the Council held its first public hearing on the issue last month, Holscher informed the board that public notice requirements for the first hearing were not properly met, effectively nullifying any action taken on the matter.

While the issue could come up again at a later date, Holscher told the board that any such request would have to follow the same procedure of going through the planning board before going to the Council for a public hearing. There is no guarantee, however, that such a request could not come up again.

The request for changes to the zoning amendment initially came to the Washington Planning Board in March. The site in question, located on Cherry Branch Lane, is owned by Sly Fox Farms, LLC. While the site lies outside of the city limits, it does fall in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, giving the city authority on issues such as zoning.

Toward the end of the meeting, during the time reserved for miscellaneous business from the mayor or council members, Hodges voiced the opinion that the council should consider reducing the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction sometime in the future, citing issues that the council has faced in recent years.

“We’ve had some problems with Whichard’s Beach, flooding issues and now we have a mining issue,” Hodges said. “I think it needs to be a mile and a half on Highway 264 East and West and Highway 17 North and South and to cut it down to half a mile for the rest of it so you can keep anything detrimental out of the way of the city.”