Expressing concern that dilapidated buildings in West End will not put the best face on the Seven Lakes area when thousands of visitors arrive to attend the 2014 US Open Golf Tournaments, the Greater Seven Lakes Community Council [GSLCC] asked Moore County Board of Commissioners to "insist, through inspections, that West End businesses on 211, comply."
The Council also expressed concern about a perceived proliferation of billboards on NC Highway 211 and asked whether Village Business zoning could be stiffened by including architectural standards.
Compliance in West End
Taking up the question of compliance in West End, Planning Director Debra Ensminger asked, during the Thursday, August 15 meeting of the Council and Commissioners, "Comply to what?" The County's zoning ordinance does not include architectural standards for West End -- or for the Seven Lakes Business District.
Residents in attendance mentioned the old Stanley Furniture plant and the West End Theater as buildings in need of upgrade or demolition.
Ensminger explained that the County does have the power to condemn buildings, and it does not have money budgeted to pay for demolitions. While a lein could be placed on the property to cover that cost, Ensminger expressed doubt that the money would ever be collected.
Stiffer Standards in Village Business
Ensminger explained that it would be possible to add architectural and appearance standards to the Village Business zoning district, which covers the Seven Lakes business area.
The impetus to do that "needs to come from that community," Ensminger said. "It would need to be started by property owners in the business village." She noted that, like all County zoning matters, any refinement of Village Business zoning would move through the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners, with ample opportunity for input from all members of the public.
Later in the meeting, Commissioner Randy Saunders, who served for a number of years on the Village council of Whispering Pines, noted that "especially when it comes to zoning . . . some of your concerns could be handled as a municipality. It's just something to think about."
Billboards on NC Highway 211
Despite the perception that new billboards are blooming along NC Highway 211, Ensminger provided a pictorial inventory of the 25 billboards that actually line the route from the Montgomery County line to Pinewild.
She explained that all of those billboards were erected before Moore County was zoned, and so are "grandfathered" as existing non-conforming uses. Eight of the 25 had to be relocated due to the widening of NC Highway 211, she noted.
Under current County ordinances, Ensminger explained, new billboards are allowed only in the Industrial zoning district. And the only property currently zoned "Industrial" is the site of the Perdue chicken feed plant at the Montgomery County line. So, under current zoning, the portions of Moore County under County control are unlikely to see new billboards.
Ensminger noted that the Planning Board and planning staff are currently working through a revision of the County's sign ordinance, and offered to present the work done so far to individuals or groups at the Planning Department offices in Carthage.
The revised sign ordinance will be on the agenda of upcoming Planning Board meetings and is expected to reach the Board of Commissioners in early 2014.