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Mills Road residents protest annexation effort

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Tony Simonetti, resident of the Mills Road area, expresses his opinions against the rezoning of land near the intersection of Mills Road and Hudsons Crossroads Road during a meeting by the Greenville Planning and Zoning Commision on July 16, 2019.

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Tyler Stocks

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Residents living along Mills Road in Pitt County are upset about requests Greenville is considering that would allow hundreds of homes to be built in a rural area well south of town.

The Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday considered three requests to rezone property at the intersection of Mills and Hudsons Crossroads Road, near Hope Middle School.

The board voted 4-3 to approve rezoning approximately 40 acres of farmland on the south side of Mills Road to build approximately 160 single-family homes and a request for a little more than 7 acres nearby to build approximately 15 single-family homes.

A request to rezone 199 acres of farmland on the intersection’s northeast corner to build 200 single-family homes was rejected by a 4-3 vote.

The commission in May voted against recommending two other requests for the intersection totaling 135 acres. All five requests will have to go before the Greenville City Council for a final decision on the rezoning and requests to annex the properties.

Developers want to tap into the city sewer in order to maximize use of the land. County zoning would require larger lots to accommodate septic systems. Once the land is annexed, residents living in the homes would pay both city and county taxes and would receive city services to include fire and police and even trash pickup.

The idea of Greenville police officers and city firefighters responding to emergencies five miles south of the city is something homeowner Bill Staats said the planning board hasn’t thought through.

Staats, among 50 opponents who attended Tuesday’s meeting, lives along Mills Road and said he doesn’t see how the city can afford to provide emergency services and public works in the area.

“You don’t have city workers, you don’t have enough policemen, you don’t have enough of any of that,” Staats told the board. “All you guys are thinking about is how much money and how many people can we jam in here. You’re not thinking about how much money you got to put back into it. This is ridiculous for you guys to change a country setting into some little city in one spot. You guys aren’t thinking about traffic and city employees,” Staats said.

Janet Batts, who lives on Manor Court off of Mills Road, shared similar concerns.

“I pray that nothing happens to those people from 4:30 to 6 when EMS has to come from Charles Boulevard to get to their house, because they won’t get there in 20 minutes. So somebody’s going to end up dying,” Batts said.

Batts said traffic along Mills Road is already an issue as it has heavy traffic already coming from D.H. Conley High and Hope Middle Schools.

City Planner Chantae Gooby said with the added homes, traffic would increase by approximately 2,100 trips per day.

Wendy Stallings also lives on Mills Road and has witnessed at least seven wrecks in front of her home and has replaced her mailbox four times.

“The road is horrific,” Stallings said. “There are holes, there are no edges to the road. The road is narrow. There are no shoulders on that road. At my house, I’m on mailbox No. 4 in three years because people go through and there literally is a foot-and-a-half of the shoulder at my place. And it’s not the exception.”

Being that the area is also known for farming, tractors, and combines on the road are not uncommon.

“There are big pieces of equipment that go really slow and the road is really narrow. And that’s not going to go away.”

Stallings also expressed skepticism about city services because it takes her nearly an hour to get home from the hospital at 5 p.m.

“It’s a really bad idea,” Stallings said.

Other residents voiced concerns that the new homes would lead to heavy flooding as the farmland in the area doesn’t drain well.

Gooby said that the developers would have to comply with city stormwater requirements and that engineers have thought about this issue.

Aaron Erickson, director of Facility Services at Pitt County Schools, shared a three-page letter with the board addressing how Hope Middle School which is off of Mills Road is over capacity currently.

Erickson said that Hope is at 106 percent capacity and that with the current population right now, over the next 10 years, the school will be at 128 percent of capacity. D.H. Conley High School is currently at 111 percent of capacity according to Erickson. That number will grow to 139 percent over 10 years.

Without the added homes, Erickson said a new school would have to be constructed and the cost of the building itself would be just over $56 million, not including land or parking.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @Tylerstocks1987.

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