Saluda split on new zoning proposal

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

City proposing creation of Ozone Multiple Use District

SALUDA — The city of Saluda seems split on a decision to create a new multiuse zoning district along the Ozone Drive corridor.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners held a special meeting Tuesday, where commissioners discussed the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance and heard from planning board members, as well as the public. 

Dean Clayton

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The new district, recommended by the planning board, includes sidewalk, buffer and berm requirements for new or improved developments along Ozone Drive.

The city held a public hearing on the amendment on Sept. 12.

Commissioners first decided to delete a few parcels from the Ozone Multiple Use District that are currently zoned R2 residential.

Commissioner Paul Marion said he spoke with city manager Jonathan Cannon to explain the proposed OMU district, and asked Cannon to explain some of the points, particularly if a residential property chooses to add onto a house, when they are required to build a berm. The city is proposing 4-foot high berms in order to buffer Ozone Drive.

Cannon said if a property is added onto, that property would then have to comply with the new zoning ordinance. If the board has concerns over when coming into compliance is triggered, they could modify the proposal, he said.

Cannon said commissioners could say as long as the addition does not exceed a certain square footage, the new ordinance is not triggered, for example.

“The other way you could deal with it would be as long as the principal structure and new addition is not seen from Ozone Drive, or is so many feet from Ozone Drive, then it would not trigger [the new regulations],” Cannon said.

The previous board of commissioners tasked the planning board with looking at the current zoning ordinance.

“The planning board was tasked with that board of commissioners to look at our current zoning and look at Ozone Drive, and determine whether or not it led us in the direction we thought Saluda should go,” Cannon said.

Cannon said the planning board decided Ozone Drive is currently fairly vegetative and has a rural atmosphere, and, as long as they could keep the corridor fairly vegetative and use screening of parking, maybe it matters less what is behind the berm.

Cannon reviewed the uses currently allowed in the C2 district along Ozone Drive, including banks, auto part stores, small shopping centers and strip malls, car dealerships and car washes, hardware stores, grocery stores, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart and restaurants without a drive-thru. Saluda has an ordinance against restaurants with drive-thru windows, which was done to prevent a McDonald’s from being built there.

Cannon said if a Pizza Hut or a Golden Corral wants to build, they could do so along Ozone Drive.

Cannon also said he has since spoken to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which indicated that the property owner required to build a sidewalk could do so within the state right of way, which would reduce the depth of the required buffer.

“I appreciate what the planning board has done,” Marion said. “But I’m not in support of taking 30 feet of someone’s property on one side.”

After hearing from planning board members as to why they proposed the new zoning district and the public, both for and against the proposal, commissioners decided to set up a workshop with the planning board. The meeting has not yet been scheduled.

If the city makes major changes to the proposed ordinance, another public hearing will be required. If no major changes are made, the city will have 60 days from the Sept. 12 public hearing to approve or disapprove of the zoning amendments.