Oakboro denies residential rezoning request

Oakboro Town Commission on Monday denied a request to rezone a residential lot at the corner of Dorsett and East Third streets.

A public hearing, to consider rezoning a tract of land at the corner of Dorsett and Third streets from R-15 to R-9, drew extensive public comment like the first one of the night.

Oakboro Zoning Enforcement Officer Mike Efird opened the hearing by explaining that owner Matthew Whitley’s request for rezoning, if approved, would allow the dividing of a single lot into two smaller ones, and noted that the request had been forwarded with a favorable recommendation from the town’s zoning board to the commissioners.

Cindy Feis expressed a number of concerns in stating her opposition to the request.

“First, the lot has drainage problems,” said Feis, expressing concerns that construction would exacerbate the problem.

“Also, one of the reasons for zoning is to prevent overcrowding,” she said, noting that she believed two houses on the existing lot would constitute overcrowding.

Feis also noted the town’s unified development ordinance contains language that strongly recommended that no rezoning from R-15 to R-9 be done after 2022.

“If this rezoning is allowed now, what happens when others ask to in the future?” said Feis, adding, “I’m concerned about the future of the neighborhood.”

Terry Whitley, representing Matthew Whitley, spoke to concerns about overcrowding and drainage.

“Even when divided, the lots will be nearly 100 feet wide each,” he said, noting that smaller lots are becoming more popular with homeowners.

“Lots of people don’t want to have to mow 200 feet of yard,” he said.

Whitley conceded that drainage problems exist, but also noted plans to install two 24-inch drain pipes to move water off the property more quickly.

Tina Booth echoed Feis’ concerns about drainage, and suggested the possibility that only one house be built initially on the tract.

“Some discussion took place about only building one house for now,” she said, which Whitley agreed was his initial intent.

Lynn Huneycutt expressed support for Whitley’s plans based on past experience.

“The Whitleys have upgraded Oakboro,” said Huneycutt.

Extensive discussion among commissioners followed, with commissioner Bart Barbee reiterating the UDO statement against rezoning from larger to smaller tracts after 2022.

Mayor Chris Huneycutt interjected that approving the rezoning would set a precedent for similar requests in the future, and commissioner Bud Smith noted “there will be fallout, regardless of our decision.”

By a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Joey Carpenter, Barbee and Smith opposed, the board voted to deny the rezoning request.

In a third public hearing, commissioners received no public feedback and voted to approve rezoning of a parcel at the corner of North Main Street, Liberty Hill Church Road and Big Lick Road from R-20 to Highway Business (HB).

In other business, commissioners:

● Heard concerns from Ruby Ridge resident Shawn Kennerly regarding foul odors from the county’s sewer treatment plant along Barbee’s Grove Road;

● Approved a request from Eagle Scout candidate Jayden Lee to construct benches at the outdoor basketball courts on Long Street;

● Received concerns from Terry Whitley regarding the painting over of a historic sign on one of his buildings, stating it was done without his permission;

● Heard departmental reports from various town staff;

● Met in closed session to consider offering incentives for business expansion in the town, and to consider personnel matters.