No moratorium in Tryon

Published 12:44 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tryon Town Council decided against enacting a moratorium on commercial development but agreed to act quickly to make changes to its zoning regulations, particularly for new commercial construction.
The town held a special meeting Thursday, Dec. 2 that was attended by more than 20 residents. The meeting was jointly held by town council and the town’s board of planning and adjustments regarding whether to enact a moratorium on commercial development.
Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples announced the urgency is no longer as grave because the developer proposing to build a car business at the corner of Chestnut and South Trade Streets took the proposal off the table.
Peoples said the “elephant” in the room at the previous meeting a few days earlier has left the building.
Council also held a special meeting Tuesday, Nov. 30 to consider a moratorium after town officials met with Bob Payne, who had inquired whether a car business would work on property he had signed a contract to purchase near Chestnut Street.
Council members Tuesday called the joint meeting for last Thursday so the two boards could decide together how to proceed.
Payne sent an email to Tryon fire chief and zoning administrator Joey Davis saying he will no longer be purchasing the property.
“I bought the property after checking with the town manager and his staff to ensure I would be in the general business area and that there would be no problem with proceeding with my plans,” Payne said in his email.
“Well, I will no longer be moving to Tryon,” Payne said. “I will take my business somewhere else. That won’t really make much impact on Tryon, so it’s no threat, but people near and far will know how I was welcomed by the people of Tryon. I will pass the word.”
Council and the board of planning and adjustments did agree to act quickly on strengthing current regulations for commercial development, particularly within the town’s general business district (GBD).
The town will likely begin by strengthening an already existing roadway protection overlay district between the railroad tracks and the state line. The target area for protection is between Carolina Drive and downtown, which is the beginning of the town’s central business district (CBD).
Other items to be considered quickly are the town’s current excavation restrictions.
“Going through the excavation ordinance the town allows 150 dump truck loads of dirt to be moved,” said councilman Austin Chapman. “You can take down the side of the mountain for that.”
Tryon’s special meeting Nov. 30 followed a public input meeting on Nov. 16, at which the town asked residents to give opinions on how to better protect commercial disticts. The public input meeting followed public outcry about the appearance and size of a new Dollar General, recently constructed adjacent to Chestnut Street on the same lot as the old Sunny Dale’s restaurant that is being restored.
About 50 people attended the first public input meeting and discussed better regulations for landscaping and tree cutting, better parking enforcement downtown as well as other ways to strengthen the town’s ordinances.
Last Thursday, some residents said they still want a moratorium, while some said they’d changed their minds. Residents called for the town to implement whatever changes it decided on quickly and to have “teeth” in them to ensure the regulations can be enforced.
Planning and adjustment board chairman John Walters said he would call a meeting as quickly as possible to begin work and update council on its progress during the town’s Dec. 21 meeting.
Town council members and town manager Justin Hembree said a formal visioning process is also needed to know exactly what is desirable in Tryon.
The town also discussed acquiring outside assistance, such as hiring Benchmark CMR Services, which has previously worked with the town, or seeking a state agency that could guide the town at no cost.

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