Officials Excited To See Draft Rezoning

SNOW HILL – Just over three years after the new Worcester County Comprehensive Plan was adopted, county staff has delivered the draft rezoning and subdivision regulations to the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday.

“Hallelujah! Oh my goodness, I think it’s wonderful,” said Commission President Louise Gulyas said after the meeting.

These regulations are the enforcement section of the 2006 Comprehensive Plan.

“This has been a long ongoing process and I’m glad to get it to this point,” said Development Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor.

The regulations submitted to the County Commissioners Tuesday have been looked over extensively by the Worcester County Planning Commission during 12 work sessions.

The commission suggested reducing the operating period for campgrounds from all year to eight months and changing surface mine location requirements.

The commission also asked that the Board of Education be requested to submit its building projects to the planning commission for review.  This would be voluntary, as the county regulations cannot require the school board to go along with county requirements, but doing so “would go a long way in furthering the intent of the regulations and serve as an example to the community,” according to a letter from the Planning Commission signed by chair Jimmy Bunting.

In the past, the school board has not done so, resulting in “site improvements which are inconsistent with the county’s planning and zoning goals, objectives and regulations and which private enterprises would not be able to do,” the letter reads.

The estate zoning district has been reduced, but not eliminated, comprising 1.08 percent of county land.

Under the new zoning regulations, over 92 percent of the county would be zoned either as A-1 or A-2 agricultural districts or as the resource protection district. Less than one percent of county land is zoned commercial.

The regulations also reduce off-street parking, encourage biking and walking and allow limited residential development in commercial areas.

Staff plans to hold two public information sessions in April, one at the Worcester County Recreation Center in Snow Hill on April 27 and one at Stephen Decatur High School on April 29. Both events would be held from 5-8 p.m.

Tudor also called for an open house of sorts to be held from April 20 to April 24 at the Government Center building in Training Room A, during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A staff member would be present to answer questions.

Computers will also be set up to allow staff to print out neighborhood zoning maps.

In an effort to save paper and costs, staff provided the County Commissioners with CDs of the new regulations and maps. The same files have been posted to the Worcester County website, and CDs have been provided to county libraries as well.

“The education of the public is extremely necessary,” said Commissioner Linda Busick. “The public really needs to be aware and have adequate time to review information.”

The public hearing on the draft rezoning and subdivision regulations will be held June 2.

“I think everyone will be pleased. I don’t see a whole lot of problems,” Gulyas said.

“If it’s what we expect, I think it’ll be great,” said Commissioner Bobby Cowger. “I’m glad it’s here. It’s something that’s been drug out for a long time.”