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Planning board tables vote about lot size in Renston Historic District

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Karen Eckert
Staff Writer

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Pitt County Planning Board has tabled a decision about lot size requirements on property located in the Renston Historic District.

Board members delayed the process so that Pitt County Planning and Development staff can gather information from other state communities on how they set standards for lot sizes in proposed subdivisions.

About 30 people attended a Wednesday afternoon meeting at the Eugene James Auditorium in the Pitt County Office Complex to speak out about lot sizes in the historic district, as well as other county zoning issues.

The discussion of lot sizes stemmed from planning and development staff's proposed amendments to the Pitt County Zoning Ordinance. One amendment addressed the implementation of the Southwest Bypass Land Use Plan.

The plan is a joint project of Pitt County government, the city of Greenville, the towns of Ayden and Winterville, the Greenville Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the state transportation department and Stewart Inc., a consulting firm.

In order to adhere to that plan, planning and development staff proposed a zoning ordinance amendment that requires lots of future subdivisions in the historic district to be 60,000 square feet in size — approximately one and one-half acres.

The land in the area consists of approximately 1,700-1,800 acres, said James Rhodes, director of Pitt County Planning and Development.

Some residents of the historic district spoke in favor of the larger lot sizes because they will allow the area to maintain its agricultural and rural nature.

Others opposed the requirement, asking the planning board to consider 40,000 square-foot lots, which would be slightly less than one acre.

One owner of a little more than 100 acres said that because his property includes an easement for Piedmont Natural Gas, the remainder is not usable for future development if lot sizes can't be any less than an acre and a half.

Some landowners who spoke said they had small farms. They predicted that they will need to sell their land for development, because small farms are becoming more and more difficult to operate.

If larger lot sizes deter developers from buying, the landowners will have more difficulty selling their land, they said.

The planning board said it would like to see visual images, such as a drawing or a map, that could show the difference between what a development with larger versus smaller lot sizes would look like as well as research into how other communities are handling this type of issue.

While the board tabled its vote on amendments that pertain to lot size, it voted in favor of other issued related to Southwest Bypass Land Use, such as cluster subdivision regulations, creation of a Renston Rural Historic District Overlay, creation of a Southwest Bypass Corridor Overlay District and enhanced light standards for non-residential development.

In other business, the board approved a rezoning request made by Happy Trails Farm.

It voted to rezone, from rural residential to general commercial, five acres of land located on the southwestern side of N.C. 33 West, southeast of its intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Highway in Belvoir Township. According to planning department staff, the zoning change is "reasonable and in the public interest."

Mike Baldwin of Baldwin Design Consultants represented Woody Whichard, Happy Trail Farms' owner at the meeting.

The Pitt County Board of Commissioners voted against a rezoning request of a larger parcel of land, 28 acres, owned by Happy Trail Farms in July. At that time the commissioners said the change was incompatible with the county land-use plan because the property wasn't near existing large-scale commercial development and does not properly separate the area from nearby residential property.

The commissioners urged Baldwin to resubmit a request for a smaller area. The five acres approved for rezoning on Wednesday are part of the original 28 acres.

In other business, the board:

■ Tabled a vote on an amendment recommended by Pitt County Planning and Development staff that builders of all future subdivisions in Pitt County install curbs and gutters. One developer said curb and guttering raises the prices of homes and to require that feature in all future subdivisions will have a major affect on the home-buying market in Pitt County.

■ Recognized the Board of Commissioners' reappointment of Brad Guth after he served one term.

■ Recognized the service of Johnny Pinner who has served two terms and is eligible to rotate off the board. According to procedure, Pinner will stay on the board until a replacement for his seat is found.

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