STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON JANUARY 11, 2002
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 9:00 a.m. in the Commissioners= Conference Room of the Henderson County Office Building at 100 North King Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Those present were: Chairman Bill Moyer, Vice-Chair Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Charlie Messer, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Deputy Clerk to the Board Amy Brantley.
Also present were: Assistant to the County Manager Selena D. Coffey, Planning Director Karen C. Smith, Public Information Officer Chris S. Coulson.
Absent was: Commissioner Grady Hawkins.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Moyer called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was a workshop for discussion on the Comprehensive County Plan, and the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite.
COMPREHENSIVE COUNTY PLAN
Chairman Moyer gave some background on the plan. In July, 1999 the Board adopted the Countywide Land Use Regulation Guide which contained several key strategies or goals. Those goals were:
1. Adopt Open-Use Zoning on a Countywide basis, and to proceed with the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite. Open-Use Zoning has been accomplished, and the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite is moving along.
2. Study of areas adjacent to municipalities, and ETJ boundaries. The LGCCA recently recommended a policy statement with respect to reviewing all annexations, all zoning changes and all similar matters that are on boundaries of the various municipalities. The Board of Commissioners has adopted that policy statement. This is a significant part of the plan.
3. The study of growth areas and major corriders. This has been accomplished for Highway 25 South, and is underway for Highway 64 East. Highway 25 North in the Fletcher is now under discussion.
4. Study in conjunction with the Committee of 100 and the Chamber of Commerce, industrial area identification. This has been done, and will be integrated into the plan.
5. A three year goal was to revise and adopt a Comprehensive Land-Use Plan to reflect balance between quality of life and standard of living.
6. An additional three year goal was to integrate all aspects of planning (schools, roads, water, sewer, housing, industrial and commercial services) into a comprehensive growth management plan.
Selena Coffey updated the Board on the current status of the Comprehensive County Plan. She has been in the process of gathering data on demographics such as population trends and projections, and economic trends. She has worked with Karen Smith on gathering data on land use factors such as mapping and physiographic factors that will be used in the assessment of factors influencing growth.
Denny Martin stated that he has moved ahead into Phase II of the work plan, and is a little ahead of schedule. A loose end from the end of Phase I was the draft statement of the AGeneral Purpose of the Plan@ and ACounty Growth Objectives@. The Board has had a chance to review those statements, and will give input on changes at this meeting.
There was discussion on the importance of having compatible land uses in areas where Henderson County is adjacent to other counties. Examples of issues where communication will be important were transportation, water and sewer access, and economic development. Mr. Martin will work with the groups involved to have that communication. Chairman Moyer stated that it will be equally important to do this within the county, and that the LGCCA will be a very helpful group to use toward this end.
Chairman Moyer began discussion on the AGeneral Purpose of the Plan@statement. He stated that the goal is really to preserve community tradition, the quality of life and the environment. We know we are getting growth, the task is how to manage that growth to preserve what we want the county to be.
Commissioner Ward stated that we have a lot of growth because of the good balance in the county. He also stated that growth is due to our prime agricultural lands, but that we are losing that land at a rapid rate. He felt it is important to figure out what can be done to reverse that trend.
Commissioner Gordon stated that she takes a different tract on what a plan should do, and wants to be cautious about trying to make it too much about preserving what we have now. She felt that a community needs to be more of a living organism, requiring the ability for change. She would like the focus to be on how to facilitate changes which are a natural process within a community. The community is different than it was 100 years ago, and much of that change has been good. Growth is beneficial in many ways, including educational and recreational opportunities.
There was discussion on how these factors play into the overall goal. Mr. Martin stated that he would make revisions to the AGeneral Purpose of the Plan@ based on today=s comments and would bring it back to the Board.
Chairman Moyer then asked if the Board had any changes to the ACounty Growth Objectives@. Commissioner Gordon mentioned several semantical changes. There was discussion on those proposed changes. Mr. Martin will make the changes agreed upon by the Board.
Chairman Moyer informed the Board that Dixie Blumer has resigned from the Comprehensive County Plan Steering Committee. He proposed that since we are so far along, we continue with the steering committee that we have. This proposal was acceptable to Mr. Martin and the Board.
The current schedule calls for a joint workshop between the Board, Mr. Martin and the Comprehensive County Plan Steering Committee at the end of January. Chairman Moyer stated that the Board does wish to keep moving on this project, and will try to schedule that workshop at their January mid-month meeting.
Chairman Moyer stated that there are a lot of pieces underway with respect to the thoroughfare plan, and economic development. The Steering Committee and Ms. Coffey have a task ahead of them pulling all these pieces together.
Chairman Moyer called a 5 minute break.
Zoning Ordinance Rewrite
Chairman Moyer called the meeting back to order, stating that this portion of the meeting would deal with Articles V and VI of the Zoning Ordinance Rewrite. He had requested that Karen Smith just give the Board an overview of the issues.
Ms. Smith began with Article V - General Development, Site and Performance Standards. Section 200-71 starts with Paragraph A, General Standards, the first part of that dealing with ANumber of Principal Buildings Per Lot@. Currently the zoning ordinance requires that you have one building per lot. The new ordinance would allow zoning lots. That would require a larger piece of property under one ownership. Rather than going through the subdivision process, a permit could be issued based on the estimated zoning lot boundary lines, and where the structure would be within those lines. The exception to this would be single family dwellings. Those still require one dwelling per lot, but there would be the ability to add an accessory dwelling.
Ms. Smith clarified several questions from the Board on the wording. Angela Beeker answered several questions regarding the use of the zoning charts.
Paragraph B deals with Required Yards. This covers required yard setbacks, and how setbacks are measured. The main change in this section is the method of measuring. Under the current zoning ordinance, you measure from the centerline of the street or right-of-way for the front yard, and from the property line for the sides and rear. The new ordinance would call for front yard measurement from the edge of the travelway. This solves many questions that used to revolve around unopened rights-of-way.
Chairman Moyer had several concerns about this area, especially in light of the number of travelways currently being widened by DOT. This will make these measurements vary, creating a floating standard. There should be discussion with DOT concerning their opinion on this topic.
Paragraph B4 of the Required Yards section deals with Adjusting Building Lines based on the lots that are near you. This allows the front yard setback of a building to be reduced to the average of the setbacks of the two buildings closest to the lot if at least 50% of the lots on the same side of the block have a setback that is less than the setback required by the zoning district. This is intended to allow new development to Ablend@ in with existing development and reduces the number of variances that may otherwise be required.
Paragraph B5 deals with the Reduction of Front Yard Requirements for Single-Family Dwellings on Steep Slopes. This helps to reduce the number of variances necessary for steep lots to be developed.
Paragraph B6 is titled Reduction of Yard Setbacks for Residential Additions. This section allows for the expansion of non-conforming uses, provided that the expansion itself does not increase the nonconformity.
Paragraph B7 is titled Projection into Required Yards. This section clarifies the things that can be placed within a setback. It basically includes eaves, canopies, porches or things that are ornamental to the property.
Paragraph A (which should have been numbered AC@) deals with height restrictions. This clarifies how the height of a building is measured. It is the lowest point on the foundation, to the highest point on the top of the house.
Paragraph B (which should have been numbered AD@) deals with Visibility at Intersections. This applies not only to subdivisions, but to commercial developments as well, ensuring that you have a clear line of sight when entering and exiting properties.
There was some discussion on whether or not pre-existing vegetation should be given an exemption. For public safety purposes however, pre-existing may not matter.
Section 200-72 is Off-Street Parking. This section is intended to lessen the congestion in the streets caused by persons parking in the street. It requires that for the uses listed, parking must be provided. The number of spaces required is related to the maximum anticipated number of people to be located at the use at any given point in time. Parking for multiple uses in a single building, or for more than one principal building on a lot, needs to be addressed.
Section 200-73 covers Off-Street Loading. This section requires that certain retail businesses, offices, institutions, hotels, wholesale trade, and industrial operations have spaces on site for unloading to protect the public safety in the streets. There is no one number that applies to everyone, allowing a few more options on number of spaces.
Section 200-74 is Landscaping. This section is intended to (1) protect residential uses from adjacent non-residential or dissimilar uses by requiring buffering for such adjacent non-residential uses or dissimilar uses; and (2) to provide landscaping requirements for parking lots.
This is really intended to buffer commercial uses from residential uses. Where buffering is required, a 10 foot wide strip is required, which must contain either a 6-8 foot high fence, an earthen berm with shrubs, or a planted buffer of trees and shrubs. Ms. Smith stated that she believes this section would be more appropriately labeled ABuffering and Landscaping@. Following discussion, it was decided to rename the section ABuffering and Parking Lot Landscaping@.
Commissioner Ward questioned who would be responsible for creating the buffer. Ms. Smith stated that if a new residential community moved in next to a commercial use, the residential community would have to create the buffer if they wish to have one. If the commercial use moves in next to a residential community, it is the responsibility of the commercial use to build the buffer. Commissioner Ward inquired whether an apple orchard is considered a commercial use. Ms. Beeker stated that it is considered an agriculture use.
Following discussion on buffering for agriculture uses, it was decided that this question would be taken to the Agriculture Advisory Committee for their opinion.
The next portion of this section deals with parking lot landscaping. If a parking lot is going to contain more than 50 spaces, plantings will be required. Provisions are also contained for maintaining existing vegetation, giving some credit for those who do so. The Board requested more information on this, stating that it should be reasonable with respect to the size of the lot.
Section 200-75 deals with signs. The sign ordinance regulates only off-premise signs greater than 15 square feet in size. There are four categories of signs:
1. Those that do not require a permit
2. Prohibited signs
a. Signs in the public right-of-way
b. Signs that would look like or obscure traffic signals
c. Moving or flashing signs
d. Signs on surface water
3. On-premise signs
4. Off-premise signs
The off-premise sign standards have been taken from the current ordinance. On-premise signs have been broken into residential, neighborhood business, and commercial/industrial districts. Ms. Smith had pictures available for the Board if they would like to see examples of signs.
Section 200-76 is Open Space Requirements. The Board has already directed that any open space requirements should be incentives based by granting density bonuses or reduction in dimensional requirements. Staff requested to postpone review of this section until standards for Planned Unit Developments have been written as there are typically open space requirements associated with PUD=s.
Section 200-77 deals with Protected Mountain Ridges. This section simply informs the public of the requirements already existing in State laws and the County ordinances for protected mountain ridges.
It was decided to postpone discussion of Article VI.
Chairman Moyer asked Karen where she would like to go next. Ms. Smith stated that before the Board talks about Article IV, she would be more comfortable if they could first talk about Article III. For the next session, the Board will begin with Article III, and move on to Article IV.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Commissioner Messer made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:05 a.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Amy R. Brantley, Deputy Clerk to the Board
William L. Moyer, Chairman