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Town Council to hold public hearing on reducing zoning board

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The Harrisburg Town Council voted 4-2 Monday night to hold a public hearing to consider reducing the size of the town’s Planning & Zoning Board from seven members and two alternates to five members and no alternates.

By Jonathan E. Coleman
[email protected]

The Harrisburg Town Council voted 4-2 Monday night to hold a public hearing to consider reducing the size of the town’s Planning & Zoning Board from seven members and two alternates to five members and no alternates.

Councilman Aaron Pherigo, who serves as the liason between the council and the board was not present at the meeting.

The Planning & Zoning Board, which acts as an advisory board to the council, was expanded about 18 months ago to include the two alternates, according to Tyrel Moore, who serves as chairman for the Planning & Zoning Board.

The request to expand came from county planning staff, who contract with the town for services, because of an increasing work load, he said.

“The concern was that we as a Planning & Zoning Board have the number of members we need to conduct the business of the board,” Moore said.

Moore said the recent announcement of The Epic development, which proposes building 3,000 new homes and 3 million square feet of commerical space near the Mecklenburg County line, will likely mean even more work for the Planning & Zoning staff.

“I know it’s never a good time for cuts, but this is an exceptionally bad time,” he said.

“It’s a huge project… I don’t think cuts could come at a worse time, not with the scope of what we’re looking at as a community.”

In addition to serving as voting members in the absence of a full board, the alternates provided additional perspectives during discussions and useful information and insight, he added.

“We’ve got a group of folks with a lot of experience who are prepared to do their jobs,” Moore said. “The two alternates have brought to the board new perspectives. Both of those guys are a little outspoken, but they speak out on behalf of the community. More information is always valuable.”

Those favoring the reduction said they thought the town’s recent addition of a full-time planner should help alleviate some of the growing work load.

Councilman Steve Sciascia also noted the frequency with which the board voted unanimously on a given issue, questioning the variety of perspectives on the board.

“The supermajority has occured all but one time in 16 months,” he said. “That was my point. The supermajority has occured a supermajority of the time.”

If the proposal to shrink the board does move forward, Town Attorney Rich Koch said some revisions would have to be made to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Other budget items discussed
The council also agreed, in principle, to include a full-time fire marshal and a full-time sergaent position to oversee the nine deputies currently serving the Harrisburg community. Members also agreed to contribute $36,000 to the Harrisburg 4th of July event for the upcoming fiscal year.

An official vote on the final budget is expected at the council’s next meeting, scheduled for June 4.

Also on Monday, the council will set a public hearing for July to continue discussion of the possible downsizing of the Planning & Zoning Board. The council will also meet in executive session to discuss how to choose which two of the seven voting members would be cut if the board moves ahead with the shrinking the board.

• Contact Jonathan E. Coleman at [email protected] or 704-789-9105.


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