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I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

Public gets a look at proposed land-use plan

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
Staff Writer

Monday, July 22, 2019

WINTERVILLE — Members of the community got a chance to review the Winterville draft land-use plan at a recent public input session.

“This is all a draft. Nothing is set in stone,” said Jake Petrosky of Stewart Inc., the firm assisting the town of Winterville in developing the land use plan. “We really want your input on the draft.”

Land-use plans provide a general map for an area. However, they serve only as guidelines. The town council makes the final decisions on zoning and rezoning. Updates to the map take place every couple of years to guide the town toward its future goals.

Stewart Inc. identified six goals for the land-use plan including create a town-wide identity, strengthening and diversifying the economy, increasing connectivity and mobility, creating safe and healthy neighborhoods and environment and activating downtown.

Activating downtown means encouraging infill and redevelopment that reinforces a compact, pedestrian-friendly area while preserving historical resources, according to Petrosky.

“Your downtown area really consists of three different areas,” he said. “There’s the traditional downtown area. There’s the downtown west area between here and the highway, and there’s the downtown gateway on the west side of the Main Street and the Highway 11 intersection.”

Petrosky showed those in attendance maps of what each of these areas look like now, and what Stewart Inc. hopes they could eventually look like.

The land-use plan calls for a new mixed-use in downtown via redevelopment of existing properties and infill. It also wants the Market on the Square area to serve as a central green space and to see more small-scale attached and detached housing.

“During the surveys and stakeholder interviews, we heard a lot about how there’s not a lot of housing diversity in Winterville,” Petrosky said.

In downtown west, the land use plan also calls for commercial infill and reuse of existing structures along Main Street, with a mix of residential housing within walking distance of downtown. It also indicates an expansion of office space.

“How does downtown feel as a pedestrian?” Petrosky asked.

The crowd began laughing.

“We want to change that. We want to see improvements at the crosswalks to make downtown walkable,” Petrosky said.

Along the gateway area, the land-use plan calls for gateway signage and landscaping with the potential for a park or a trailhead for a greenway that could lead to Pitt Community College. The planting scheme calls for something similar to an orchard to help decrease highway noise.

Stewart Inc. also saw the opportunity for a linear park near the railroad.

“There’s a lot of development east and west, but not so much north and south along the railroad,” Petrosky said. “We see the potential for a linear park, running north and south along that area. However, there are houses in that area. There’s potential there but it requires more study.”

The land use plan also emphasizes a need for connectivity. Winterville has several areas with dead-end roads or where sidewalks stop unexpectedly.

“Every time you don’t make that connection (to another road), you’re encouraging over-congestion,” Petrosky said. “There’s a lot of good stuff here, it’s just hard to get to.”

Attendees seemed pleased with what they heard.

Town historian Jesse Riggs wrote a report on the history of Winterville for Stewart Inc. to use while drafting the land-use plan. He was glad they seemed to use it in making decisions.

“I’ve shared some information about the history of the town and the history of the town had developed over the last 100-plus years,” Riggs said. “The plan was very interesting. I like the fact that there’s a lot of appreciation for the historical flavor and fabric of the community and how the plan kind of weaves in preserving the history of the community and the styles of buildings.”

LaVerne Mourning had not previously attended any of the land use plan meetings, but wanted to attend the most recent gathering to have some input about what the town may look like.

“I hope they consider parks within neighborhoods instead of separate from them,” she said. “I like a lot of what I heard today. I think they are taking their time and really considering people’s thoughts and ideas about the plan.

“I moved here because it is a small town, and if they can find a way to help us connect to neighborhoods better, I think the outcome will be better,” Mourning said.

Misun Hur works in the urban planning department at East Carolina University.

“I learned a lot today,” she said. “It’s a small-town focus. It seems to me that the whole plan is about what is going on here in the Winterville area.

“It makes perfect sense to me,” Hur said. “They covered everything people have brought up previously. I think it’s very powerful that they’re not just looking two or five years from now, but 10 and 20 years.”

The Winterville Town Council is expected to receive a final land-use plan in September for review and approval.

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