Annexation, rezoning top City Council agenda
By Ginger Livingston
Thursday, August 8, 2019
The Greenville City Council must decide if a request to annex 390 acres located more than five miles from its contiguous boundary is in the best interest of the community at today’s 6 p.m. meeting.
The request to annex five parcels located where Hudson’s Crossroads Road intersects with Mills Road is one of two annexation public hearings on today’s agenda. The other request comes from a limited liability corporation, Gregory Buck Welch Legacy, involving property located near the intersection of N.C. 33 and Roosevelt Spain Road.
The request to annex and rezone the property at Hudson’s Crossroads Road and Mills Road has attracted much controversy. Two city Planning and Zoning Commission meetings in May and July drew 100 and then 50 opponents, respectively.
Two of the parcels are on either side of Hudson’s Crossroads Road while the other three are opposite on Mills Road. The owners of the parcels are Carolina Eastern Homes of Morehead City, Carl W. Blackwood of Farmville, Ann C. Davis and James K. Cox of Greenville, RDP Management Consulting of Greenville and BMS Builders of Greenville.
The area is farmland, but if the annexation is approved it is estimated about 1,300 people in 586 single family homes could live there, according to data provided by the city’s community development office. Traffic would increase by approximately 2,100 trips per day once the new homes are built, City Planner Chantae Gooby said in July.
The information packet provided City Council members includes a recommendation to approve the annexation. If approved, the property immediately becomes part of the city.
Nearby property owners opposed the project, saying the additional homes would create traffic congestion, noise pollution and negatively affect the environment.
There also was concern that more homes would worsen crowding conditions at nearby public schools. D.H. Conley High School and Hope Middle School both are over capacity. School attendance is not typically considered in zoning requests.
“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," Janet Batts said at the July 16 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. "So somebody’s going to end up dying.”
Batts, who lives in Manor Court, a development off Mills Road, said the road already an issue as it has heavy traffic already coming from D.H. Conley High and Hope Middle Schools.
Annexations benefit cities by increasing the size of the tax base, which increases tax revenue. It also provides space for growth, Councilman Rick Smiley said.
Smiley said the question is whether a location more than five miles from the existing city limits is the place where that growth should take place.
There are arguments that strong cities of the future are ones that encourage people to live in denser communities where they can walk to the grocery stores, where mass transit is more efficient to operate, and where interesting restaurants and shops open, Smiley said.
“There’s an argument to be made that the most efficient way to house (future Greenville residents) is in places where we already have firefighters and roads, and buses and police, and there are already stores nearby,” Smiley said. “That’s the kind of discussion we can have about this, what is in the best interests of the City of Greenville.”
According to city staff, the present tax value of the five parcels is $1,328,626. Once the property has been fully developed, the tax value will jump to $148,475,000. Staff estimates the location will generate about $795,840 in tax revenue, based on a tax rate of 52 cents per $100 valuation.
When revenue generated from the city’s fees for refuse collection, street utilities, street lights and street maintenance is added, total revenue jumps to slight more than $1 million.
It will cost the city $918,900 to provide fire/rescue, police, sanitation, street utilities, street lights, street maintenance and street signs to the area. Greenville Utilities Commission will spend $27,840 for street lighting, bringing expenses for the city and GUC to $946,740. That leaves the city with a net gain of $80,421, according to data provided by Community Development.
The location isn’t the furthest point being considered for a noncontiguous annexation.
Ironwood, located off N.C. 43 North, is about six miles from the city’s northwestern limits. Sagewood, a neighborhood under development near the intersection of N.C. 43 South and Ivy Road, is about six miles from the city’s southeastern limits.
The Greenville Police Department does not have information on how long it would take to respond to an emergency call in the area, police spokeswoman Kristen Hunter said. The department’s average response time for both routine and emergency calls is about five minutes, she said.
“Response times vary greatly depending on the time of day, other calls for service, the officers’ location, weather, et cetera,” Hunter said.
The Greenville Police Department’s research and planning division calculates the department will need 1.4 additional officers “to adequately service that area,” police spokeswoman Kristen Hunter said.
Greenville Fire-Rescue Station 3, located at the intersection of Charles Boulevard and Red Banks Road, will be responsible for covering the proposed area, said Battalion Chief Bryant Beddard. It’s located approximately six miles from the proposed area.
If the City Council approves the annexation request, there will be five additional public hearings involving the owners of the newly annexed parcels requesting the land be rezoned from rural agricultural to residential single family.
The Gregory Buck Welch Legacy corporation wants to annex 68 acres located near the intersection of N.C. 33 and Roosevelt Spain Road. It also is asking to rezone about 66 acres from Pitt County’s rural residential designation to the city’s residential mobile home designation. There are three mobile home parks on the property.
Staff is asking the council to table that action for further study.