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Planning board approves rezoning for duplexes, townhomes

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By ANGELA HARNE
The Farmville Enterprise

Monday, October 23, 2017

FARMVILLE — The town of Farmville may soon be home to additional duplexes and townhouses.

The Farmville Planning Board voted unanimously to rezone 0.47 acres on Wilson Street, located between Main and Field streets, to R-5. The property, which is surrounded by R-5 zones, is now zoned industrial.

Planning board member Bert Smith asked property owner Reggie Spain his plan for the land.

Spain said he plans to develop duplexes similar to those now on Belcher Street, and townhomes, similar to the ones located on Blair Street, behind Carraway's Service Center.

The R-5 zone allows the development of duplexes and single-family homes, like townhomes.

“If I had my say, I wouldn't have duplexes. They look terrible,” Smith said, explaining he is part of The Farmville Group, a grassroots organization comprised of four businessmen working to enhance economic development in town. “We are working to enhance downtown and are concerned with the Wilson Street corridor, an entrance of town. (The appearance of) duplexes are too shoddy.”

Spain plans to develop an all brick-style and stone front duplexes to enhance the appearance, he said.

"The stone front accent looks good," Spain said, adding duplexes offer senior citizens housing options to remain in town since they are single-level homes.

Planning board member Frank Bradham agreed with Smith.

"The town went too fast, too quick on multi-family housing. It has overloaded our downtown," Bradham said, adding the town already has a lot of rental properties. “I know this is a zoning question, but please do something nice for Farmville.”

Bradham made a motion to approve the rezoning request, which planning board member Dan Wilder seconded.

The motion passed 6-0. Planning board member Mike Marengo was not in attendance.

The board's recommendation will go before the Farmville Board of Commissioners Nov. 6.

The planning board voted to table until next month a request to rezone 4197 S. Main St. highway business after hearing from neighboring business owners and from Hemir Tag Alsadi, who requested the zoning change.

The property is now zoned industrial, as are the surrounding properties.

The property in question previously housed a party decorations store and a fish market. It is unclear what Alsadi hopes to open in the location.

"There is very little parking there," said chairman Tim Reida, adding in the industrial zone convenience stores are listed as special exceptions.

He cautioned the board on rezoning the area to highway business.

"This could open it up to sweepstakes," Reida said.

Sweepstakes or electronic gaming businesses were previously shutdown in Farmville, following a ruling by the state courts. These types of businesses are starting to reopen in eastern North Carolina, though, due to a loophole in the law. The town of Grifton is now home to two electronic gaming businesses and one bingo facility.

Rezoning this one property to highway business would not be consistent with its neighbors, according to vice chairman Harry Albritton Jr.

“It annoys me when (the applicant) doesn't show up (to the meeting). I know it's not a requirement, but I have an issue with it,” Albritton said.

The properties in the area are zoned industrial, but have "highway business character," according to Farmville Manager David Hodgkins, who suggested the board may want to consider rezoning the whole area.

“All of the uses are commercial, not industrial,” Hodgkins said.

The industrial zone allows 80 different uses, according to Reida.

"I recommend you rezone the area because it is no longer an industrial area," Hodgkins said.

One business sells propane and another is a trucking business, Reida pointed out.

Both of these businesses are allowed in the highway business district, Hodgkins said.

"Under normal circumstances, you would want this area as highway business," he said.

Years ago, the area was filled with industries, including a sewing factory and large operational trucking business, according to Smith.

"I want more information," Smith said.

If the planning board opts to rezone the property in question to highway business it "should change all of the area," Reida said.

Albritton made a motion to table the matter, which Wilder seconded.

Feedback should be presented at next month's planning board meeting.

The board also directed Hodgkins to present other zoning areas that are inconsistent, similar to Spain's property, where his property was zoned industrial in a R-5 zone.

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