SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s elected officials ran into a consequence of the long delayed comprehensive rezoning this week when confronted with a rezoning decision that they would clearly like to have postponed.
The commissioners, who have refused to enact a rezoning moratorium until the 2006 Comprehensive Plan is completed by the rezoning, must consider rezoning cases as they are processed and cannot put them aside.
On Tuesday, the commissioners voted against rezoning a parcel on Snow Hill’s northern border, despite one commissioner’s desire to wait.
Property owners Sunwoo and Kyunghi Nam had asked to rezone their property from industrial to business, with the commissioners first considering the matter in early December.
After the December public hearing on the rezoning, the commissioners asked the Nams to sit down with the town of Snow Hill and the Snow Hill Alliance for Responsible Progress (SHARP), both of which were concerned that businesses on the Nams’ land could negatively impact the revitalization of downtown Snow Hill.
“They were not able to come to any consensus,” said Development Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor.
Despite the lack of agreement between the property owners and the town, the commissioners were forced to go ahead with their decision.
“I’ve been deeply conflicted on this particular issue,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs. “I’m deeply disappointed there couldn’t be some sort of agreement reached or some sort of accommodation reached.”
Commissioner Louise Gulyas did not want to rezone any land until the overall concept was finalized.
“We shouldn’t do any rezonings ‘til the comprehensive rezoning is complete. Just wait ‘til we’re finished, that’s all we’re asking,” said Gulyas.
Staff disagreed with Phyllis Wimbrow, deputy director of Development Review and Permitting, saying, “Unless there’s a moratorium I have to process the application.”
Attorney Sonny Bloxom affirmed what Wimbrow said, adding, “What you’re talking about is a de facto moratorium. You can’t have that. This zoning has to be either approved or turned down.”
The commissioners voted 5-2 to deny the rezoning request, determining there had not been either a change in the neighborhood or a mistake in the original zoning. Commissioners Bud Church and Bobby Cowger dissented.
“I would just like to wait until the maps are complete and then we can move ahead,” said Gulyas later. “Mr. Nam is not going to do anything immediately, I don’t think.”