Planning continues rezoning discussion

Published 8:36 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019


The Southampton County Planning Commission has continued discussion on a proposed zoning map amendment, which was the subject of considerable talk and concern during a public hearing earlier this month.

Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. made the application on behalf of property owners Paul Thomas and Patricia Beale Milteer and Thomas Hart Milteer. Together they have three tax parcels measuring 242.78 acres, which are within the Franklin magisterial and voting districts. The land is on either side of Rose Valley Road, and about 1,200 feet southeast of its intersection with General Thomas Highway, and across from Rose Valley Road from the Enviva pellet plant.

If ultimately passed by Southampton County Board of Supervisors, the amendment would rezone an A-1, Agricultural District to CM-2, Conditional General Industrial for general light industrial uses. To the north is M-1, limited industrial district; south is A-1, agricultural district; east is R-1, residential district and A-1; and west, M-2, general industrial district. The application includes all of the permitted uses in the M-2 zoning except commercial and office-type uses. Those exceptions would include banks, retail stores, dental or medical clinics, and any type of restaurant or drive-in.

Beth Lewis, secretary to the commission, confirmed that the Planning members only considered the proposal, not any sale simply because there isn’t any. She added that there were about 20 to 30 people in the room, and a handful spoke against it. They are already bothered by the noise generated by Enviva, wood pellet-producing company and, Lewis reported, they “didn’t want any more of that in their neighborhood.”

The County has an option agreement with the land owners to buy the property. If the matter ultimately passes, though, Southampton will not immediately buy the land and hold on to it.

“They will buy if and when there’s somebody ready to develop it,” said Lewis.

Residents can again speak on the matter during the public comment section of the meeting, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, in the Board of Supervisors room.