W.P. Moratorium Foes Make Case at Hearing
Local builders, developers and others who say they will be adversely affected by a proposed moratorium made their case Tuesday night.
A public hearing by the Whispering Pines Village Council attracted seven speakers. The council is gathering public input on a possible moratorium on commercial development and subdivisions.
"You don't have a crisis," said Bill Reeves, a general contractor who lives in Seven Lakes.
The council is attempting to develop a land-use plan and rewrite and revise its ordinances. The village has hired a consulting firm, Benchmark Associates, to work on both. The council is considering a moratorium while the work is being done.
Opponents say a moratorium is not necessary and that the revisions can be done without stopping construction and development in the village.
One former developer urged council to impose a moratorium.
Art Dersch, a former builder and current resident of Whispering Pines, said the village is finding itself with abandoned houses and that new homes in the village are driving down the value of the existing ones.
"There is no advantage to us to have any new homes built," Dersch said.
Dersch was the only person who spoke in support of a moratorium during the public hearing.
Realtor Tim Venjohn said new construction is vital to a community. Without new construction, he said, "all you have is a community that is getting older."
Venjohn is also a member of the village Planning Board, which has expressed its disagreement with the current land-use plan being discussed by the council.
Larry Oliver said the moratorium could stop a farmer from dividing his land up and giving it to his family.
Densel Williams, chairman of the Moore County Homebuilders Association's Legislative Affairs Committee, offered assistance with updating the ordinance and creating a land-use plan. He also urged the council to proceed cautiously.
"You are making a big mistake if you don't take your time," Williams said.
Williams was accompanied at the meeting by a legal representative, who expressed concerns over procedural aspects of the possible moratorium.
Mayor Bob Zschoche assured everyone that the council has consulted with its attorney, and if the village imposes a moratorium, it will comply with state law.
Fee Increases Rejected
The council held two other public hearings during the meeting. The first was to consider amending the zoning ordinances to give the planning and zoning director the authority to issue a stop-work order on any construction that is out of compliance with state law.
The last public hearing was to consider amending the penalty for ordinance violations from its current $50 to $500.
Some residents balked at the increase.
Venjohn said the increase could give the village a reputation of "having too many ordinances" and give council the reputation of being "control freaks on everybody's life and everybody's personal freedom."
Council members assured them that the penalties have been enforced only once in the previous three years, and the impetus behind the motion was one village homeowner who has failed to pay the fine.
"The one (person) issued (the fine) ignored it because $50 wasn't enough," Councilman Randy Saunders said.
Also, the council voted 3-2 against implementing a new fee schedule.
Councilman Skip Gebhardt also proposed increasing various fees. He and councilman Frank Zamaroni voted for the increase.
Zschoche likened the fees to raising taxes.
"We lack a lot of definition to what the hell this is all about," Zschoche said of the fees.
The specific example he pointed out was a $150 fee for political signs. He said he was unclear whether the fee was for all signs or for each one.
Several residents spoke in opposition to the fees prior to a vote being taken. They said the increases were a way for the council to "nickel and dime" residents.
Saunders said he didn't like any of the proposed increases.
After the vote, the audience applauded the result.
In other business:
The council voted unanimously to approve a contract with Norato Roofing of Sanford for the replacement of the roof on the Fire Depart-ment. The cost of the repairs is $21,215.
The council also voted unanimously to approve the final plat for Phase III of the Arrowstone subdivision and the final plat for Phase II of the Newbury Ridge subdivision. The council tabled a vote on preliminary plat approval for the Vinca subdivision.
Mark Nelson was appointed to serve on the Wastewater Management Committee. Gerry Osborne, Jack Armstrong and Bruce Winn were appointed to the Lakes and Watershed Board.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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