Red Springs seeks zoning clarity

By: By Bob Shiles - [email protected]
John McNeill

RED SPRINGS — The West Third Avenue area will be rezoned, but its new designation has not been determined.

During Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting, the Red Springs Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed that West Third Avenue needs to be rezoned to more accurately reflect how property is being used.

The need to rezone the area, which is currently zoned Industrial, became evident when an offer was made recently to purchase a building on property that until about four years ago was used to house youth offenders, Mayor John McNeill said. The buyer wanted to use the building for some other youth-offender related program.

“But our current code enforcement official said that the area is not zoned for that kind of use,” said McNeill, who was at a loss of words to explain with certainty why the youth offender building was built in the Industrial zone in the first place. “The use would be permitted in Residential and Business zones, but that is the result of federal court cases.”

Three or four family homes are located in the area, McNeill said.

McNeill’s guess is that while there are now no Industrial uses in the area around West Third Avenue, when the town’s original zoning was done the area was designated Industrial because there was a boat manufacturer, feed mill and fertilizer plant in operation.

“As far as the youth offenders housing, it was put in an inaccurate zone,” McNeill said. “It never went before the Planning Board and there was a misinterpretation by the code enforcement officer. The code enforcement officer ruled it was like a hotel, a use that was permitted in that zone.”

“This property is in an industrial zone, and there is no benefit in that,” said Neil Yarborough, the town’s attorney. “This has already hindered one man’s project, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it may have hindered others.”

Yarborough advised the board on its next step.

“Initiate the rezoning of the area and let the Planning Board decide what the zone should be,” he told the commissioners. “Then you (the town board) rezone the area.”

In other business, the commissioners voted to hold a final work session Monday on the town’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

According to McNeill, the budget as now proposed includes no tax increases and holds the town’s property tax rate at 64 cents per $100 of property value. He said the largest expense in the budget is for a $200,000 street sweeper.

Monday’s budget work session will be used to finalize some numbers that “still need to be crunched,” McNeill said.

The commissioners also appointed Tim Smith to replace his law partner Yarborough as the town’s attorney. Yarborough will serve as the town’s “special counsel.” The changes take effect June 1.

John McNeill McNeill

By Bob Shiles

[email protected]

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.