Carthage Delays Auto Storage Issue
The Carthage commissioners on Monday delayed consideration of a proposed zoning change until next month’s board meeting.
Nobody had signed up to speak at the public hearing on a request to change the town zoning to add “automobile storage facility” as a conditional use in the central business district (CBD).
Previously, the town planning board recommended denial of that request. If the change were to be made, special requirements would be added to limit such storage facilities to operable automobiles only, not for sale on the premises, and require they be hidden from public view.
There would have to be an 8-foot-high “90 percent opaque screening device” — which could not be a chain link fence — according to the proposed ordinance amendment.
After no one rose to speak, Mayor Tommy Stewart then asked for motions, either to approve or to deny the addition or to table it. No immediate response came from any member of the board.
Rick Yow and his wife were in the audience waiting to address the board during a second public hearing about their request for just such a conditional use on property at 207 E. Saunders Street — the former site of Lee Bolerjack’s import car repair shop.
Their time never came, because that public hearing could not take place. After some questions had been raised about reasons behind the planning board’s recommended denial, Commissioner Jean Riley moved to table the matter until the November meeting. She added a stipulation waiving the charging of any further $250 conditional use request fee.
That measure passed without opposition. Yow, as he left, said he might renew his request next month. He said his auto sales business at Hillcrest is booming.
The commissioners hold quasi-judicial hearings when considering conditional use requests. Once granted, any such request then serves as a precedent. Similar requests made in the future must be treated the same way, or a town can face legal action.
After the meeting, a number of board members expressed concerns about precedents opening the door to car storage lots in other parts of the downtown, which is within the town’s historic district overlays.
In other business, a disappointing response had come Oct. 6 from members of the county planning board to the town’s request for extending Carthage’s extraterritorial territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) to its statutory maximum of one mile.
“Most of the residents (and probably more) in the proposed affected area that attended our public hearing were in attendance,” Town Manager Carol Sparks said. “To cut to the chase, Karen and I were the only people at the meeting in favor of extending the ETJ.”
The county planning board voted unanimously to advise county commissioners to deny the request from Carthage.
Sparks said she had tried to explain that this would not mean higher taxes for people brought into the ETJ — there is no taxing authority there. People had voiced opposition at the planning board meeting.
“They wanted to know what was in it for them,” she said. “They asked if we were going to annex them or tax them.”
She said she had explained over and over that there are no town taxes on property outside city limits in the ETJ, but to little avail.
“One person said ‘no taxation without representation,’” she said. “Afterward, everybody was very nice. They said it wasn’t personal.”
If Carthage wants this, the town commissioners will have to appear and make their case to the county board of commissioners whenever it appears on their meeting agenda, according to the mayor.
“The purpose is to protect the town limits,” Stewart said, explaining that a change in state law now requires county commission approval. “Southern Pines and Pinehurst have a two-mile ETJ. We could have done this before without asking, but the law changed. Now we have to ask the county commission.”
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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