The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 19, 2013

Albemarle City Council postpones zoning request

By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer

Thursday, December 19, 2013 — Albemarle City Council will postpone any decisions on the rezoning of 2817 U.S. 52 N. following opposition raised at Monday night’s public hearing.

The council decided to keep the public hearing on the matter open until its meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 after neighboring resident Gerald Ritchie objected to the rezoning.

Ritchie told the council he objects of the rezoning of the property from business to residential because of its continued state of general disrepair and untidiness.

“The appearance of the property at Jim’s Custom Windows has been an eyesore for our community and people driving into and out of Albemarle along highway 52 for years,” Ritchie said.

“In the last two or three years the appearance of the property has gotten worse.”

To illustrate his point, Ritchie brought photographs he had taken of property the day before.

“[The requirements for residential zoning] state that there should not be any outside storage. As you can see from these pictures this property does not meet those requirements,” Ritchie said.

However, while many areas remained cluttered with business equipment and supplies, council members noted that the side of the structure fronting U.S. 52 had largely been cleared.

“The pictures that look clean are from the front, Councilwoman Martha Sue Hall said.

“You can tell that it is visually much better than it has been from the road.”

Ritchie agreed and indicated he would not be opposed to the rezoning if the rest of the property saw similar improvement.

“I just hope Council will not vote on this zoning until this property can meet the requirements of outside storage,” he said.

Neither the property owner James F. Goins nor anyone representing him was present at the meeting to respond.

Planning and Zoning Director Keith Wolf told the council that Goins had been informed of the hearing by both letter and phone call.

“I explained to him he does have the right to ask for a rezoning of this property to residential/office,” Wolf said.

“I also told him it might be more difficult to get that rezoning if he left the property in the condition it has been.”

In the past, Goins told the council that he wishes to rezone the property for health reasons and was willing to clean it up if it meant he could live there.

While the front of the property seemed to indicate some willingness to comply, Ritchie insisted that the problem was not yet solved.

“The city has made numerous attempts to talk with [Goins] but very little has been done,” he said.

While Councilman Dexter Townsend said he would need to consult with past meeting notes before he could speak to the specifics of the situation, he did confirm that Goins had been confronted about the appearance of his property.

“I do know officials and possibly staff paid a visit to Mr. Goins,” he said.

“He indicated to us that he did know what we had come for and he had already started to clean it up,” Councilman Troy Alexander said.

“The former council has been dealing with this issue for some time,” Hall said.

“This isn’t new to [Goins].

In light of the warning given to Goins about the public hearing, Hall was originally in favor of closing the public hearing despite Goins absence. However, new council member Benton Dry asked if they could hold off on doing so.

“I’m not saying we’re going to give him the next 20 years. But we all have to be reasonable and show people we’re willing to work with them,” Dry said.

Townsend said he would appreciate a little more time to discuss the issue during public hearing as well.

“I want to go back and do a little research on some of our past discussions,” Townsend said.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to keep the public hearing open until its next meeting.

Dry said he hoped it would show Goins that nobody was against him.

“Everybody’s with you ...  just clean it up. We’re going to give you a little bit more time to do it,” he said.

Over the course of the rest of the meeting, the council also:

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynews