Polk commissioners discuss zoning updates, watershed protection measures

Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

COLUMBUS—The Polk County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on Monday, February 5, at the Womack Building, to hear from citizens and discuss two key issues. 

The first was a proposed text amendment to add automobile, truck, farm equipment and farm implement sales and service to the neighborhood commercial zoning district as a permitted use.

The amendment would allow for businesses that primarily engage in the sale, repair or maintenance of motor vehicles and farm equipment, including maintenance such as body repair, painting and engine overhaul, to operate in the neighborhood commercial zoning district. 

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Zoning for this specific use did not exist before the amendment, and the area affected would be mixed among residential zoning and located in the area along Lynn Rd. between Skyuka Rd.

Citizens involved in the industry proposed the amendment to the Board for consideration.

“I’ve been using that land for 20 years now, and a text amendment may be easier to expand the whole area,” said Mike Cassiovo, an automotive service worker and proponent of the amendment. 

The Board passed the amendment unanimously. 

Later, the Board discussed an update to the Polk County Watershed Ordinance amendment. 

On March 9, 2023 the State of North Carolina announced that Polk must update its Water Supply Watershed Program. Watersheds are areas that drain water into another larger body of water, usually lakes or rivers. 

“What watershed does is it protects our waters and drinking water in the long run,” said Cathy Ruth, Polk County Planning and Economic Development Director. “And so, there are some requirements on it, limiting building on areas, and there are some vegetation and stormwater requirements and things that are and aren’t allowed in those districts.”

However, the changes that are required to the ordinance only include specific wording. 

“There are some definitions that the State clarifies, but there are no changes to the ordinance,” Ruth said. “There are no changes to our watershed areas.”

Larry McDermott of Lake Adger asked the Board to delay voting on the issue so that citizens had some time to look over the changes in the ordinance. In response to this, Ruth reassured the Board that while there were no significant changes in the ordinance beyond the superficial, there was also no need to hurry the vote. 

As a result, the Commissioners voted unanimously to delay the vote on the watershed ordinance to their next meeting on Monday, February 19.