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Town reinstates special use permits

By Dave Vieser
Special Correspondent

Troutman's aldermen have restored special use permits to the town's zoning ordinance, reversing a year-old decision to abandon that process for a more informal one.

A special use permit is an extra step a builder must go through to gain approval for a project. The permit is granted only after a formal proceeding, known as a quasi-judicial hearing, where board members must act as both judge and jury.

When the aldermen abandoned the process last year, they said they were unhappy that its strict rules prohibited them from discussing a pending case with residents and severely limited their comments during hearings.

Under the rules adopted last year, all land-use decisions became legislative actions, and board members were free to discuss cases with residents.

But after reviewing those procedures, town planners suggested going back to special use permits, where appropriate, and also leaving the informal conditional zoning process in place.

“We've taken a close look at all these procedures, and we now feel that it is better practice to have special use permits back in our unified development ordinance,” said planner Erika Martin. “The special use permits will be used for situations where a certain use may be allowed in a zoning district, but need individual consideration to ensure site appropriateness and compatibility with surrounding areas.”

The Troutman Planning and Zoning Board had previously recommended that the special use permit process be re-established. The aldermen unanimously adopted the changes Aug. 13.

The aldermen also:

Approved financing terms for borrowing $200,000 to cover remaining costs of construction of the town's first public library on West Church Street. The town received several proposals, the most favorable of which came from Branch Banking and Trust Co. It proposed a five-year loan at an interest rate no greater than 3.42 percent. The total library construction cost is about $880,000. A citizens committee has raised about $700,000 of that. Once the library is open, it will become part of the Iredell County Public Library System.

Banned on-street boat and trailer parking in the Barium Seasons subdivision. More than 45 community residents packed the hearing room and pleaded with the town to adopt the ban, in order to remove several boats that had been parked at the curb on local roads for weeks. Residents said the boats were a serious danger to motorists and children.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer.

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