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CALABASH—The town board of commissioners has voted to send a request to rezone seven acres along Thomasboro Road from commercial to residential back to the town planning and zoning board.
The 4-1 vote came following a public hearing at town commissioners’ last monthly meeting Sept. 11.
Compass Point Engineering, on behalf of property owner Russell Price, wants to rezone 7.16 acres from central business (CB) to R-15 residential. The addresses of the property are 1401 Thomasboro Road and 9215 McMurray Lane.
Adjacent property owners with The Commons at Calabash have opposed the zoning change. They stated rezoning would not be suitable for the area, particularly with 16 commercial acres they own at N.C. 179, Thomasboro and Persimmon roads.
The town has received letters from other adjacent property owners who do not oppose rezoning.
The town planning and zoning board voted at its Aug. 6 meeting to recommend not approving the change. Board chair Sonia Climer and board member Emily DiStasio felt such a change would be spot zoning.
Michael Norton of Compass Pointe Engineering said Price sought the rezoning to secure the “historical and future use of the property,” which he said had always been used for residential.
DiStasio said if Price was seeking a change to reduce his taxes, he could explain that to the county in seeking a reduction in valuation. Norton said he is a member of a county-level review committee and the county would not give a reduction in value.
At town commissioners’ Sept. 11 meeting, the board was instructed it can turn the rezoning proposal down, approve it, or table and send it back to the planning board with instructions to determine future land-use for the property.
DiStasio, who is also a town commissioner, stated at that meeting she felt it should be tabled and the “old board” was in agreement zoning should stay as it is. The CAMA land-use plan, she said, should be central business (CB).
“When you start changing now, you’re going to have a lot of problems [and] set a precedent,” she said. “I don’t feel it’s right. A lot of work has gone into the UDO.”
When the property was zoned CB, she said letters were sent out and there was a public hearing.
“Nobody had public comments for years,” she said. “Now all of a sudden, they want to change it back the way it was.”
Town commissioners Buddy Walton and Sandy Melahn favored sending the issue back to planning and zoning. DiStasio, who cast the only “nay” vote, said she didn’t think it should be sent back. Town commissioner Daria Buccilli favored tabling it and not sending it back.
Town commissioner Jody Nance he thought the planning and zoning board had done a “pretty thorough” job.
“The main thing is work on the UDO and the precedent it [would] set, allowing people to come in and change,” he said. “You get into an issue of spot zoning. I don't see no point in it.”
Town attorney Mac Tyson said it is a decision that is at the discretion of the board.
Norton, speaking on behalf of the rezoning, said the CAMA land-use plan can be reconsidered at any time. He said the property is unusable in its current zone, citing mobile homes in the area, and that adjacent owners have the same desire to change to residential.
“Uses will not change,” Norton said, adding he serves on the county’s equalization review board.
“I still think a more informed compromise could be made with adjacent property owners,” he said.
Nance made a motion to return the matter to planning and zoning, which was seconded by Buccilli.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.