The planning commission on Monday will review a proposal to assign town zoning classifications to 6,200 Wake County acres recently added to Garner’s planning jurisdiction.
Bringing the Wake County land into Garner’s planning jurisdiction gives the town a say in development on its outskirts.
“If we’re going to be affected by the results, then we ought to be a part of the management process,” Councilman Buck Kennedy said during a public hearing March 21.
“It won’t affect your taxes,” Kennedy told residents of the land Garner recently brought into its extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ. “Since you’re not in the town, you get the same tax bill that Wake County’s been sending to you. You won’t be annexed unless you initiate it.”
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Town leaders continued the hearing April 3 because of the volume of affected properties – many in the area of Fayetteville Road north of Ten-Ten Road, U.S. 70 East near Guy Road and New Bethel Church Road.
But more residents spoke in March, concerned about what the change would mean for the zoning of their property and land-use permitting.
Looking to match
The move means Garner, rather than the county, issues permits for signs, home-based businesses, commercial tenants, construction and new developments in the new ETJ. Wake County is still in charge of well and septic permits, and farms will be exempt from town zoning and permitting requirements.
With the zoning switch, Garner senior planner David Bamford said the aim is to assign town zoning classifications that most closely match the existing county zoning.
“This is not an annexation,” Bamford said. “This is not related to any specific development proposal, this is not an extension of public water and sewer, and this will not change anybody’s address.”
Garner, for example, is likely to change Wake County’s R-30 and R-40 residential districts to the town’s R-20 and R-40.
“Wake County heavy commercial is very similar to Town of Garner’s service business,” Bamford said. “We looked at the existing land uses to see what was the best fit, because we didn’t want to create any nonconforming situations if we could help it.”
John Feore told the Town Council the R-40 residential designation proposed for his land and others along U.S. 70 near Guy Road is not a good fit. The county zoning for their land is highway district.
The narrow lots there, squeezed by the highway and railroad tracks, are a turnoff for residential development, Feore said.
“That area should be a cash cow for the town; it really should be,” Feore said. “Clayton is booming both directions. This should be new car dealerships, a supermarket, maybe a Lowe’s Home Improvement, something like that, but they’re never going to build houses.”
Feore said he had heard the town has interest in that area becoming an employment corridor. But he said if someone from another state is looking to relocate there, any residential classification would be a deterrent.
“If they see that ‘R,’ they’re done,” he said. “That’s the kiss of death for a piece of property, unless you want to put houses on it.”
Assistant Town Manager John Hodges said the county’s highway district zoning complicated the reassignment process because the county defines HD as residential space that allows some industrial uses with county variances.
The town is leaning toward industrial zoning for highway-district properties that have the variances and residential zoning for those without variances. Hodges said the town was looking further into that particular zoning shift.
Kennedy reminded Feore he has the option to pursue having his land rezoned, so long as he can make a legitimate case and go through the proper channels.
At the April 3 hearing, interim planning director Jeff Triezenberg presented several modified proposals across the expanded area based on prior feedback.
“Some of these were at the request of property owners, and some were things that we caught in our subsequent review,” Triezenberg said.
Among them, the zoning proposed for Feore’s property and one other parcel near Guy Road is likely to change from R-40 to light industrial. That means the county would tax the properties as commercial.
The Town Council is expected to consider a recommendation from the planning commission on May 1.