sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, January 21, 2005

County commissioners, part 2

I got tired last night and gave up.

But there was also a controversial development before the board last night that adds to the urban sprawl debate. Millican Construction wanted to build 68 single-family homes and 44 multi-family townhomes on 48 acres on the the north and south sides of Trosper Road, east of Lake Brandt Road. Granted, this land is in the county and could be considered spot zoning. But Millican was willing to pay for the city sewer hook-up to area. The townhomes would be in te $250,000 price range, while the single-family homes would be in the $325,000 range.

"We feel the proposed development would be good for Guilford County," said attorney Charlie Melvin, a fixture at county commissioners' and city council meetings.

Several residents of the area opposed the project because of — you guessed it — its density. They proposed more moderate densities, to no avail.

"If there's anyone here not willing to compromise, it's Mr. Millican," one opponent said. "There's no multifamily zoning within a mile of here."

Opponents were also concerned about the amount of earth to be disturbed by the development, considering the fact that the area is located within a watershed critical area.

Yow, the commission's resident well-driller, pointed out that a development under the current zoning with wells and septic tanks would disturb more land than Millican's proposal.

"You're under less risk with this plan," he said.

Planning director Mark Kirstner said he was confident county ordinances protecting the watershed area would keep the drinking water clean.

"We do have a very clean water supply" due to those county ordinances, Kirstner said.

Then there was the issue of a city police firing range next to the property, something that drew commissioner Carolyn Coleman's concern.

"I don't think any home that's next to a firing range is compatible," she said.

What was interesting is, long after the public speaking portion ended, an older gentleman wearing a Marine jacket rose to speak. Davis, an old Marine himself, recognized him.

The gentleman said it was difficult for his wife to sleep some nights when the cops are firing automatic weapons on the range.

The fellow Marine's testimony was not enough to sway Davis, who voted for the project along with Yow, Arnold, Skip Alston and Kirk Perkins.

"This development isn't quite the boogeyman it's made out to be," Perkins said.

But the motion failed 6-5 as Mike Winstead, himself a developer, voted against it along with Trudy Wade, who was concerned about traffic, Linda Shaw, Paul Gibson, Coleman and Kay Cashion, who said she was "inclined to respect the homeowners that are already there and the investment they've made.

And, oh yeah, the county approved incentives for Comair. Yow wondered why Timco had never come to the commissioners asking for incentives, yet the board was considering giving $106,000 to its competition for workers.

"We never do anything to help what's already here," Yow said.


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