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Council delays vote on rezoning

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Greenville City Council delayed a vote on a rezoning request because the project developers want to talk with opponents to the request.

The council also set April 11 as the date of a public hearing for a proposed job creation grant for business that wants to relocated along Dickinson Avenue.

Council members were set to take a second vote on a request to rezone nearly 13 acres of farmland off East Fire Tower Road, next to Meeting Place subdivision, from residential-agricultural to office-residential (high density multi-family). The second vote was needed because the first vote taken on Feb. 14 required Major P.J. Connelly to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the project. However, without a two-thirds majority vote, council rules require a second vote to approve the change.

The proposed project encountered opposition from nearby residents who argued the development of the property at the time the state transportation department was expanding East Fire Tower Road would create additional traffic problems. Questions also were raised about a high-density project creating potential stormwater runoff issues for a nearby neighborhood.

Assistant City Manager Ken Graves said the developers assisting the property’s owner, Bobby W. Joyner, asked for the delay because they were talking with neighbors and working to address their concerns.

City Manager Ann Wall said a public hearing must be held on Taft Family Venture’s application for a job creation grant managed by the city because it is an economic development project that involves tax dollars.

The City Council created the grant last year and offered three categories of assistance. Taft Family Ventures is seeking a grant that encourages businesses to locate in the downtown business district. It is the first business to apply for the grant, Wall said.

The five other items on the Council’s Thursday night agenda that required votes were approved unanimously:

■ An agreement to provide a cash match of 5 percent or up to $10,000 if Taft Family Ventures obtains a state funded building reuse grant to renovate a building at 631 Dickinson Ave. so it can relocate its headquarters from its current location on Stantonsburg Road. The project is expected to cost $1.7 million and Taft is seeking a $200,000 grant.

■ The annexation of 5.3 acres of Davenport Farm at Emerald Park Place.

■ Rezoning 17 acres located near the northeastern corner of the intersection of East 10th Street and Port Terminal Road from residential-agricultural to residential (medium density).

■ Authorization to submit an application to the commerce department for a $350,000 grant from the commerce department’s Rural Housing Recovery Infrastructure Grant to provide build infrastructure for a 60-unit affordable housing development that is planned for Old Firetower Road.

■ A resolution approving the issuance of up to $90 million in revenue bonds to fund 15 construction and renovation projects and equipment purchases, including construction of the new operations center, the purchase of peak generators for Vidant Medical Center, upgrading the water treatment plant and renovating its main headquarters.

The Council ended its meeting with a discussion about improving signage along stretches of highways that mark the entrances to Greenville.

Connelly said he wanted people traveling to the community to immediately recognize they are in Greenville.

“You want to have that good first impression,” he said.

Public Works Director Kevin Mulligan presented photographs that showed the multiple ways cities across the country mark their gateways.

Some were signs that spelled out the cities’ names and cost between $150,000 and $200,000. Other communities used artwork that reflected the community’s brand. These ranged in price from $300,000 to more than $1 million.

Several council members were attracted to pictures of “overpass art” where a community’s name or a brand image were painted on the side of a bridge or overpass. Mulligan said a sign that was placed on the side of the train track overpass at Charles Boulevard cost about $25,000.

Councilman Rick Smiley said he liked that concept for the U.S. 264 Bypass overpass near Stantonsburg Road.

“If we want to dress that up, it would make it clear we are coming into Greenville,” he said.

Mulligan said the large city sign on Statonsburg Road that greets motorists who enter from the U.S. 264 Bypass will have to be moved in several years when the expansion of Allen Road begins. He recommended relocating it to the Pitt-Greenville Airport, an idea several council members wanted to pursue.

There was a passing mention that the city might want to incorporate a pirate motif to play off ECU’s connection to the community.

Councilwoman Rose Glover said whatever method of signage is used, she wants it to stand for Greenville and be separated from ECU.

Glover also said the city needs to move away from the usage of a tobacco leaf because people from outside eastern North Carolina don’t recognize it or know about tobacco’s importance to Greenville’s history.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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