Also during their meeting Thursday, Forsyth County commissioners:
• Approved amendments to the county’s alcohol code to allow for Sunday package sales if voters approve Tuesday’s referendum.
The first possible date for Sunday sales could be March 18, provided the election results are certified before then.
• Ratified all parks and recreation department rules, policies and procedures, as well as amended the parks ordinance to reflect the current operations of the local board and department.
• Granted a rezoning request to industrial from industrial and agriculture for METCAM to expand its manufacturing business on Tidwell Road. The company also received variances for setbacks and buffers.
• Approved changes to the ethics ordinance to allow for more flexibility in scheduling for the ethics board.
Resident Brant Meadows, who spoke during the public comment portion, recommended that commissioners consider fully revising the ordinance, rather than making minor fixes, and setting a stakeholder committee to assist in that effort.
• Postponed to March 15 a decision on a proposed change to the conflict-of-interest transactions section of the ethics ordinance, citing the need for more time to review the matter.
The vote was 3-2, with Commissioners Patrick Bell and Todd Levent opposed.
• Moved the date for a town hall meeting on discussion of impervious surface limitations and protecting water supply watershed from March 20 to 7 p.m. April 26.
• Directed staff to draft changes to the alcohol code regarding factors automatically disqualifying someone from obtaining a permit.
The measure was prompted by a person, who once had a bad check, being barred for "moral turpitude."
Note: All votes were 5-0, unless otherwise noted.
— Alyssa LaRenzie
Patrick Bell was alone in asking his fellow Forsyth County commissioners not to proceed with public hearings about the length of a hallway connecting two structures on residential property.
“We spend more time limiting people’s rights than we do on trying to make our county more user-friendly,” Bell said.
The proposed unified development code change requires two public hearings before a vote on the measure.
The commission voted 4-1, with Bell opposed, on Thursday to schedule the hearings.
The matter likely will be first heard at the April 5 meeting.
The proposed change would set the length of a hallway connecting two buildings to a 16-foot maximum, said Tom Brown, director of planning and community development.
“We limit the size of accessory structure in residential zoning districts,” Brown said. “We’ve had two recent examples of people who have used hallways to connect accessory structures to their primary structures to avoid this limitation.”
Bell emphasized that two instances prompted the commission to discuss the change, which originated at a work session in June.
“This conservative board, in the second-most conservative county in the nation, has spent time and money, staff resources, attorney time and now public hearing time on something that has happened twice since [the county was founded in] 1831,” Bell said. “Yet we can’t seem to bring forward any UDC changes that will make our county more business friendly.”
He was referring to proposed code changes intended to streamline the process for businesses by shortening time for rezoning or reducing impact fees, among other measures.
That proposal originated in commission talks last fall.
At a meeting last month, the commissioners submitted scores ranking the priority of several issues the planning department staff was preparing.
Unified development code changes for accessory structures and the user-friendly initiatives received the same score, with both appearing in the bottom half.
Bell said the measure aimed at bringing in business should have taken priority.
On the list, the accessory structures issue was noted as being ready to return to a February work session, while the user initiatives didn’t have a month specified.
The remainder of the commission felt the accessory structures issue was worthy of going to public hearing as scheduled.
Commissioner Brian Tam noted that “it’s something that’s important to somebody.”
Chairman Jim Boff requested that Brown, prior to the public hearing, make a few revisions to the proposal that would allow for any length of hallway if included in a home’s original design.