sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, August 20, 2004

Tough, frustrating deadline day. It was oneof those days when you're inundated with information and you just don't know what to do with it all in the short time you have.

To begin with, there's the situation with the school buses. I'll admit I haven't been as aggressive as I should be. But by the same token, I'll give the N&R credit for covering every conceivable angle. That said, their stories have a familiar plot: Parents pissed, can't contact school, Grier apologizes.

I'm javing trouble coming up with an alternative angle. My strategy now is to attend the board meeting and observe carefully as the board grills the staff. So I did a "photo essay" instead.

I'm still trying to get my arms around the scenic corridor issue. It has been whittled down to "billboards" or "no billboards" when the issue is much more complicated than that.

Sources provided me with some documents related to a side issue. I'm aware these documents have been provided to another publication, who could run with it more quickly than I could if I held off this week. But I needed to make damn sure I understood the issue and accurately portray everyone's viewpoint.

It seems as though there is a descrepancy over whether land zoned "residential" includes land zoned "agricultural." This could have an effect on the billboard issue because, under existing county ordinance and the scenic ordinance, a billboard can't be built within 300 hundred feet of a residential area.

As it turns out, a billboard mounted a legal challenge to the agricultural as residential ordinance. The case went all the way to the NC Court of Appeals, where the billboard company prevailed.

The problem is, some feel the county has not amended its
development ordinance
. Or has it? Planning director Mark Kirstner said the ordinance was amended in the definitions section of the county's development ordinance, which lists agricultural under the residential definition.

Not good enough, county commissioner Billy Yow says. The court of appeals decision represents the letter of the law, and the county commissioners never amended the ordinance. Yow says that the ordinance needs to be clarified and consistent with the court ruling.


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