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Town Council halts land development

Unless equipped with a special exception, landowners in the Town of Greensboro have had to halt any development to their properties, per an ongoing moratorium passed by the town council.

In February, the town council voted to enact Ordinance 2020-01, which placed a 180 day moratorium on the acceptance, review or processing of commercial and residential property development plans within town limits.

The moratorium also prevented landowners from requesting zoning amendments.

The ordinance that enacted the moratorium does offer some conditions that allow landowners exceptions, such as if the moratorium places an undue hardship on the landowner or if the development application was previously waiting for approval.

The reason for enacting the 180-day halt on land-changes within the town was to give the council time to revise its current development code ordinances and procedures.

In early August, the 180-days expired, and the codes had not yet gone through the revision process, leaving the council with a decision to make.

“We had to have the moratorium in place for 180 days, but we have the option written into the moratorium to extend it by majority vote of the town council, for 60 days,” said Town Manager Dennis Henderson at the council’s Monday, August 10 meeting.

According to Henderson, the 180 days had not been sufficient time and the extension was a result of “the current COVID-19 environment” and “other instabilities in the world.”

Henderson advised the council to extend the moratorium for another 60 days.

Council President Bill Willis asked for a motion to accept the extension, and Councilmember Libby Henderson made the motion.

After the motion had been made, Councilmember Erin Schaefer asked the council and town staff what had been accomplished within the last 180 days.

“Aside from applying for a grant to work on it, we have not done a whole lot,” said Town Manager Henderson.

“What is our plan for the next 60 days?” asked Schaefer. At the direction of the council, Schaefer had applied for a community planning grant for the project, but the Town of Greensboro was denied the grant.

“So, what is plan B?” asked Schaefer.

Now knowing that they had not received their desired grant, Henderson suggested setting aside time at the next meeting, in September, to discuss alternative plans for funding the project.

“At which point, we will only have 30 days, right?” asked Schaefer.

Councilmember Henderson asked Schaefer if she would be willing to meet with the city manager (and no other councilmembers, in order to obey Sunshine Laws) and discuss other options or ideas before the September meeting.

“Revamping our land development code is not going to be something you can do in an afternoon,” said Henderson. “I don’t know what we need to do…but I know we wanted to, with the grant money, hire a consultant to help us with it.”

Henderson suggested Schaefer and City Manager Henderson sit down and come up with an alternative plan on how to revamp the code.

“If y’all wouldn’t mind putting your heads together and coming up with some possibilities for us that won’t bankrupt us, there has got to be a way we can do this without a $30,000 grant,” said Henderson.

Schaefer agreed that she could brainstorm ideas with the city manager.

“Let’s bring this back up at the next meeting. By then, Erin [Schaefer] and Dennis [Henderson] should be able to talk a little bit and give us some type of guidance,” suggested Town Council President Bill Willis.

The board put the motion to vote – agreeing unanimously to extend the moratorium for another 60 days and discuss further ideas at the September meeting.