Last updated: July 09. 2014 3:19PM - 1173 Views
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com

Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCommissioner Billy Lockamy looks at photos of debris on the Runion's property on N.C. 24 before it was cleaned up. The board approved rezoning the site to Industrial with a sand milling operation expected to take its place pending approval of site-specific plans.
Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentCommissioner Billy Lockamy looks at photos of debris on the Runion's property on N.C. 24 before it was cleaned up. The board approved rezoning the site to Industrial with a sand milling operation expected to take its place pending approval of site-specific plans.
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The former Runion’s Recycling property has been rezoned, paving the way for another industrial prospect on N.C. 24. The move, made by the Board of Commissioners this week, expands Sampson’s Industrial Corridor but does so on the backs of longtime residents of the area, one property owner said.

The board unanimously voted to rezone nearly 80 acres located at 75 Runion Lane from RA-Residential to I-Industrial on a request by True Line Surveying.

Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose previously told Planning Board that staff recommended the rezoning due to the fact that the request was found to be consistent with the Sampson County Land Use Plan that identified the property as being along the “Industrial Growth Corridor.” The property adjoins existing Industrial zoning and infrastructure is in close proximity to the site, she said.

The Board of Commissioners’ hearing on the rezoning matter was continued last month, with the matter remanded to the Planning Board for further deliberation and information. The Planning Board, which initially split in 3-2 opposition, reheard the findings of fact and voted unanimously to approve the request before bringing the matter back to commissioners.

Rose told commissioners the property owner was required to clean debris from the property and that had been done prior to the Planning Board’s consideration of the request. Curk Lane, representative for True Line Surveying, concurred.

“The majority of that property has been cleaned up. The violations from April were inherited violations not caused by the current applicant,” Lane said. “The best use for this property he feels is an Industrial use, much like the asphalt plant across (N.C.) 24 and the brickyard adjacent to his property. They are currently four-laning 24 in front of his property, so Department of Transportation infrastructure is in place for an industrial use.”

Lane attested to that, saying thethe rezoning was the “first step.”

Danny Meeks, owner of the former Runion’s property, was not in attendance at the board’s meeting Monday. However, he previously told the Planning Board he would apply for all proper permits from DOT and it was his intention to be a good neighbor.

Lane, speaking on behalf of Meeks, said the applicant would ultimately like to mine the property for field sand, used to build N.C. 24. That land would eventually become a stormwater pond. All proper permits would be obtained and environmental issues will be regulated and monitored by state and federal authorities, he noted.

“The mining operation is a special use within an Industrial district,” Rose said. “He will be charged with bringing to the Planning Board a site-specific plan for that operation, showing us he has contacted all state and local parties to include DENR, Department of Transportation, and they will be tasked with looking at that plan.”

Jerry Lucas of Autry Highway (N.C. 24) said the rezoning would make a trifecta of hard-hits he and other property owners have absorbed in the past year.

“I am opposed to this rezoning request, I have to be,” Lucas said. “If the board approves this zoning, this will be the third hit on my property within the last year.”

He said first the state claimed his front yard in declaring right of way for the N.C. 24 widening project. Then, Barnhill Contracting, which is working on the widening project, had its request for an asphalt plant approved by the county. Now he is facing another industrial prospect in his backyard.

Lucas said he was also “perplexed” how the Planning Board’s vote changed from 3-2 against recommending the rezoning to 4-0 in favor of it without additional information being provided for consideration.

Lucas mentioned traffic concerns, stating that he and others have been told to expect 100 trucks a day. Rose noted that DOT requires a driveway permit to be submitted by the applicant when a change of ownership or change of use takes place. Lane noted dual entrances that should alleviate traffic concerns.

Not just traffic, but noise, emissions and future uses for the property were also chief concerns of Lucas, who said he spoke for several neighbors as well.

“The (Environmental Impact) report states that the new lanes alone will raise the noise level by 10 decibels. You can imagine what 100 dump trucks a day accelerating by my house will raise the noise level to,” said Lane, who then pointed to emissions. “I don’t want to see 100 trucks a day accelerating by my house causing more cancer-causing agents to the air that me and my neighbors are going to have to breathe. That’s not fair to us.”

He then turned to the specific site use on the horizon.

“If you feel, just because this property is in the Industrial Corridor, that you need to zone it for industrial use, at least consider rezoning it for a real industry,” Lucas remarked. “After all this dirt is dug and hauled away, Sampson County will be stuck with a big hole in your Industrial Corridor that can never be used for another industry. There has to be a better use for this property.”

Lane noted that the rezoning to Industrial was in line with Sampson’s Strategic Growth Plan for that area. Lucas said that comes at a cost to Sampson’s own residents.

“For all of the property owners in the area who live in residences there, I realize that this might be an Industrial Corridor, as we refer to it, but before that became an Industrial Corridor there was nothing there but homes,” Lucas commented. “The homeowners were there before there was ever any industry in the area and the homeowners are being ridden out of this area. It’s not fair to all the homeowners, not just me.”

Commissioner Albert Kirby said he had compassion when hearing Lucas’ concerns and noted the board heard much the same prior to its approval of Barnhill’s asphalt plant.

“As commissioners, we had to look at the faces of very concerned homeowners — some of your neighbors,” Kirby said to Lucas. “With the budgetary issues that are facing our county, anytime there is a business that can bring jobs to our county, we just have to look at that seriously. We can’t say no to possible industrial footprint. That’s the dilemma we’re faced with. There are employees who haven’t had raises in years and years, there are taxpayers who do not want to see their taxes go up. There are all kinds of financial issues we’re faced with, so when there is a possibility of a business coming in to bring jobs and expand the tax base we have to look seriously at it.”

Chairman Jefferson Strickland asked what the board wished to do. After several moments of silence, Kirby ultimately made the motion to approve the rezoning. It was seconded by Commissioner Billy Lockamy and unanimously recommended 4-0.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.

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