Disputed rezoning request on Mount Airy commissioners’ agenda


By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com



The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is poised to set a public hearing on a rezoning request by a local dentist, which has been rejected by the city planning board.

Dr. Dean Simmons, a resident of Pine Creek Trail, is seeking the zoning change for property he owns in the 1300 block of Forrest Drive, off U.S. 601, a move that surrounding property owners oppose.

The present classification of the 2.53-acre site is R-20 (residential), and Simmons has petitioned to have that altered to B-2 CD (a general business/conditional district). Conditional zoning typically refers to flexibility for the use of land in a way not otherwise permitted within a particular zone, which may be allowed as long as certain conditions are met.

Simmons is seeking the rezoning to accommodate a proposed commercial (retail/wholesale) structure on the Forrest Drive property, which is near the Surry County Emergency Medical Service headquarters, to include site improvements such as parking, landscaping and others.

That site is now vacant. The exact nature of the commercial structure being eyed is not specified in city government documents.

The planning board, an advisory group to the board of commissioners which issues preliminary findings on zoning matters, recommended the denial of Simmons’ request when it recently met on the matter, according to a memo from city Planning Director Andy Goodall.

Planning board members found that the proposed use and rezoning of the property were not compatible with the surrounding residential areas on Forrest Drive. It voted 3-1 against the request that several neighboring property owners spoke in opposition to during their meeting.

The commissioners are not bound by the planning group’s actions.

During their next meeting Thursday at 2 p.m., the commissioners are scheduled to act on Simmons’ request as part of their consent agenda. It includes items, often of a routine nature, which are approved in a blanket vote with no discussion.

Their action regarding the Simmons property calls for setting a public hearing on the rezoning request for another commissioners meeting scheduled for Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. Hearings are required before zoning changes can be made.

Tax credit support

Among other action Thursday afternoon, the city commissioners are expected to approve a resolution in support of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program.

The elimination of those credits is on the table as Congress considers reform of the federal tax code.

Tax credits are a key funding tool in the rehabilitation of historic structures.

The resolution the city council is expect to adopt Thursday states that Mount Airy’s Historic District has benefited from large and small historic preservation tax-credit projects, involving “numerous” residential and retail buildings.

It also points out that the credits’ availability has been accompanied by significant private investments in older, often vacant buildings in the community which have made otherwise impossible projects an enormous success.

This has increased the city’s tax base along with aiding the preservation of older properties.

The resolution asks Congress to include the credits in the proposed fiscal year federal budget.

Copies of it are to be sent to the federal legislative delegation serving Surry County, including Rep. Virginia Foxx and Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, along with other relevant parties.

By Tom Joyce

tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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