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NASHVILLE — After twice rebuffing efforts to rezone a 66.8-acre property in the Green Pond area near Bailey for a dense housing development, Nash County commissioners on Monday approved rezoning requests that will allow the property to be developed into a 78-lot subdivision of single-family homes.
In a series of motions, the county board at its regular monthly meeting rezoned the property owned by Cecil Williams on the north side of Stoney Hill Church Road from R-40 single-family residential to RA-30-CU single-family conditional use for development of the Williams Grove Subdivision sketch plan.
Because the proposed subdivision lies along a major road, the board also approved a waiver request allowing the development to use shared driveways rather than require larger lots. A similar waiver was later granted for a subdivision on North Halifax Road north of Dortches.
The rezoning and waiver allowing the 30,000 square-foot residential lots were recommended by both the county’s technical review committee and the planning board. The new subdivision is across the road from the previously approved Williams Ridge subdivision, also zoned R-30, with 20 new homes.
The rezoning and waiver requests, which required a public hearing, went through quietly without the fierce opposition from surrounding residents and drama at two previous attempts to develop the property.
On Dec. 2, commissioners rejected Williams’ request to rezone the large parcel plus three other tracts to a general RA-30 on the grounds it was “premature” until Williams Ridge was further developed and its compatibility with the surrounding area demonstrated.
Residents at the time said the large size of the property seeking rezoning would harm the area’s rural character. Commissioners were also opposed to the possibility at the time that Williams intended to use “cluster development” which would permit the creation of 20,000 square-foot lots balanced by designated common space.
Residents and commissioners were even more upset at Williams’ second attempt to rezone the property and two other tracts on June 1. Williams sought the RA-20 medium-density residential designation, but opponents made the same argument that 20,000 square-foot lots are too dense for the surrounding rural area.
Nash County planner Adam Tyson noted Monday that the conditional use permit being requested in the rezoning precluded the use of cluster development, leaving the larger — and more acceptable — lot sizes.
In other business, utilities director Jonathan Boone informed commissioners that the state moratorium on imposing late fees or discontinuing service for delinquent utility accounts expired last week.
The moratoriums were established in March as COVID-19 began to spread throughout the state and country. About 130 accounts then were affected, he said.
At least 100 accounts are now involved, he said, 30 of them in excess of 90 days. And while the county wants to “be sensitive to the situation COVID-19 has created,” Boone said it was necessary to deal with the past-due accounts.
In the plan he submitted to commissioners, owners of delinquent accounts from March through July are being asked to set up payment plans with the county to repay the balance over a six-month period while keeping current charges up to date.
“If they are delinquent, in the absence of a payment plan we can discontinue their service,” he said, as well as resume late fees. He said the county had not imposed $11,230 in late fees.
The plan will include the monthly current payment plus a portion of the past-due amount. He said the late fees would only apply if the customers fails to follow through with the repayment plan.
“The key is to have that communication” between the county and customer, he said. “If the customer encounters a hardship, we want to work with that customer, but we need to be proactive.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the repayment plan.
In other business, commissioners gave their legally required second approval to the renewal of franchise agreements with North State Medical Transport, Eastern Medical Transport and Metz Medical Transport to provide supplemental routine ambulance service when Nash County EMS requires backup.
The board also adopted an updated Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, required by the federal government every five years, that was developed in partnership with Edgecombe and Wilson counties.