Board delays decision on Hillcrest/NC 801 rezoning request

Published 11:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

County commissioners are expected to decide Monday  whether to rezone 6.7 acres from residential-agricultural to highway business on Hillcrest Drive, just off NC 801 S. in Advance.

They postponed the decision after a public hearing at their August meeting when they heard from Jake Miller, who is seeking the rezoning, and from Tom Browder, who lives across the road and spoke against it.

And while there was a lot of talk about what Miller proposes to do at the site, county planner Adam Barr urged board members not to consider a specific use, because any use allowed in the highway business district could be put there if rezoned.

A minute later, commissioner Richard Poindexter asked: “Is there no indicated use of the property at all?”

Barr again said staff encourages board members not to look at specific uses.

“I just found it a little odd that more residents on Hillcrest Drive and Mocks Church Road were not notified by mail,” said Commissioner Benita Finney.

Barr said that 28 property owners were notified, going 50 feet beyond the state requirement, that signs were placed on the property outlining the requests and that notices were published in the Davie County Enterprise Record.

Miller said he wants to move his tree trimming service from cramped quarters beside his home on Bailey Road to the Hillcrest site. It would be more convenient to get to customers, and only a small amount of the property would or could be used. He estimated about .75 of an acre would be paved. He has about 15 employees who operate out of seven or eight trucks.

“It would provide a great opportunity for us,” Miller said. “We want to park trucks and have an office.”

Poindexter asked Miller why he didn’t apply for a special use rezoning, in which only the business specified could operate there. Miller said he didn’t know that was an option. Poindexter later asked why Miller wasn’t notified of the options, but did not receive an answer.

“Obviously, you say you want to be there in order to grow, yet you admit there’s not very much room there to grow, so that’s a little bit of a confusing statement,” Finney said.

Miller said that by growth, he meant moving the office from a shed in his back yard he has used for the past 10 years.

“I support small businesses,” Finney said. “But I live in Advance, and in my opinion, that is the worst intersection possible you could pull those big trucks out of with low visibility both ways. It makes me very, very nervous.”

Browder said he was reluctant to speak, because he doesn’t want someone else to tell him what to do with his property. He and Miller are and will remain friendly, he said.

“I just don’t think it’s the place for this kind of business, although I could think of worse things.” He pointed out that something could happen, and the property could be sold for any type of highway business.

Browder mentioned the only business zoning in the area, one his grandfather had rezoned. “It has been a complete disaster. I don’t think anyone who has driven up and down that road (NC 801) in the past 30 years who thinks how that property ended up has been a plus for this county.”

Browder said there are no businesses on that side of NC 801 between Bermuda Run and the Advance fire station.

“We’d love to have Jake as a neighbor. We’re going to get along, either way. I just wish he would keep it on Bailey Road, where his house is, instead of on Hillcrest, where my house is.”

Board member Terry Renegar asked that Miller and Browder continue negotiating, and Poindexter said he still had questions as to why a conditional rezoning wasn’t considered.

The county’s planning board had recommended the rezoning on a 4-2 vote.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12 in the second floor commissioners room of the county administration building on the square in Downtown Mocksville.