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City Council approves multiple rezoning requests


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Greenville City Council on Thursday approved the rezoning of slightly more than two acres in the Lake Ellsworth neighborhood after the developer agreed to install a vegetative buffer sought by a neighbor.

Also during its Thursday meeting, the Council, at the property owner’s request, tabled a rezoning request that has stirred controversy in the Watauga Avenue neighborhood.

Synergy Properties requested that slightly more than two acres located along Ellsworth Drive, north of Briarcliff Drive, be rezoned to residential/high density multi-family from its previously residential single family zoning.

Bryan Fagundus with Art Consulting Group, who represented Synergy Properties, said while the land was purchased with the idea of building single family homes, buyers in the area were more interested in purchasing duplexes, which the company wants to build.

Ervin Mills, whose home is next to the property, opposed the plan, saying he and other neighbors requested that a line of trees separating the property from his neighborhood either be preserved or a new vegetative barrier be built.

Fagundus, under questioning from Councilwoman Kandie Smith, said the trees had to be cut to meet construction requirements and city regulations don’t require a vegetative barrier between single family homes and a duplex community. He said an offer had been made that if Mills and his neighbors purchased wax myrtles, the company would plant them.

Mills called Fagundus’ offer a “distasteful” solution, saying if the developer takes plants away it should put plants back in the community.

“Lake Ellsworth is a growing community, houses are still being built there,” Mills said.

As council members discussed the city’s requirements for planting vegetative barriers, Fagundus and Mills conferred and then approached the speaker’s podium. Mills said Fagundus had agreed to install the plants and he was withdrawing his objection.

The council unanimously approved the rezoning. Councilman William Bell was not at Thursday’s meeting.

In other business, City Manager Ann Wall said the owners of 1.3 acres along the eastern right-of-way of Watauga Avenue south of Farmville Boulevard asked that their request to rezone the property from residential to heavy commercial be tabled until Dec. 13.

Neighbors in the surrounding community are opposed because they want affordable homes, not a commercial enterprise, in the area.

The city Planning and Zoning Commission earlier voted to recommend the council deny the request, and city staff said it wasn’t in compliance with the city land-use plan and didn’t recommend approval.

In other action at Thursday’s meeting the council:

■ Unanimous approved an agreement with ShotSpotter, a company whose use of computerized sensors will allow Greenville police to pinpoint the location of gunshots before someone calls to report the sound.

The program’s three-year cost is about $615,000 and the city will share the cost with East Carolina University, Vidant Foundation, Greenville Housing Authority and Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said the program, which he said will combat gun violence, will launch in early 2019.

■ Unanimously approved an ordinance to annex Charleston Village, which is nearly 13.65 acres located near the end of Charity Lane. The property is currently undeveloped but is expected to yield 40 single-family residences.

■ Unanimously approved rezoning 9,670.5 square feet located along the eastern right-of-way of McKinley Avenue and West Fifth Street to downtown commercial fringe. It was previously zoned residential high density multi-family.

■ Unanimously approved rezoning 1.66 acres located at the southeastern corner of the intersection of South Memorial Drive and Whitley Drive to heavy commercial from general commercial.

■ Unanimously approved an amendment to amend the Water Supply Watershed Overlay District Standards in Sec. 9-4-197 of the city zoning ordinance.

■ Recognized a recently retired police officer and the Greenville Fire-Rescue Swift Water Rescue team.

Eddie Butts retired in September after more than 30 years with the department. He held the rank of master police officer and worked in the field operations bureau.

The 16-member rescue team was recognized for performing 170 evacuations and rescues in New Bern and Trenton over a four-day period. In Trenton, several rescues required team members to swim to people trapped in trees.

“What a great night. We get to recognize some of our heroes tonight,” Mayor P.J. Connelly said.