Garner: Opinion

Editorial: Council should follow panel’s lead

It’s unfortunate family members are at loggerheads over how to use their land, but the planning board made the right decision to recommend rezoning part of the property.

The family disagreement, which doesn’t seem to be acrimonious, pits several sisters who each own distinct parcels of inherited land.

One sister wants to rezone her property to insure that only houses will be built there. According to comments Barbara Mitchell made Monday night, she envisions leaving that land to her children so they can live there. The other property is zoned industrial and the owners of that land want to sell their property. Industrially zoned land generally sells for more than land zoned residential. It is also taxed at a higher rate.

In this case, the sisters who filed a valid protest petition can still sell their land as industrial property if they find a suitable buyer. And Mitchell can still preserve her land for residential use if the town council follows the lead of the planning board. Because of the protest petition, though, four of the five council members must vote in favor of the change.

Planning board member Jeffery Swain, the only member of that board to vote against the recommendation, said the town would be better served if all that land was rezoned for residential use. He may be right, but that wasn’t the issue before the planning board. And it won’t be the question council members will have to answer when they decide the matter next month.

Rezoning Mitchell’s land is a baby step in that direction. In time, it may all be rezoned, but town leaders should be careful not to make the fears of Mitchell’s sisters – namely that the town will rezone their land too – come true.

That would be overreaching to a great degree. Rezoning Mitchell’s property, since she asked for it, is the right move.