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NASH COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

Commissioners approve subdivision near Bailey

Posted on January 9, 2022

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The Claude Mayo Jr. Administration Building is shown in a Nash County government photo.

Contributed photo

The Claude Mayo Jr. Administration Building is shown in a Nash County government photo.

kripley@springhopeenterprise.com

NASHVILLE — A controversial rural subdivision near Bailey won approval Jan. 3 despite neighbors’ continued opposition after the developer made significant revisions to the original design.

The Nash County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 during its regular monthly meeting to approve the second phase of the Seamster Subdivision after holding a second public hearing where speakers echoed their objections from the first hearing last month to creating a subdivision with 20,000-square-foot lots.

The proposed subdivision was a 38.73-acre tract owned by Ned Coleman and EMA Land Development on the south side of Bull Head Road north of the U.S. 264 bypass and east of the town of Bailey.

The northern portion of the property was zoned R-40 single family residential, and the developers asked county officials to rezone it to an RA-20-CZ medium-density residential conditional zone similar to a previously approved rezoning of the property’s southern portion, which is part of the Old Smithfield Road Subdivision and phase one of the Seamster Subdivision.

The applicant proposed to reconfigure the design of 25 lots previously approved as the northern portions of the two subdivisions into a proposed new 49-lot Seamster Phase II subdivision.

The two portions are divided by Beaverdam Creek, and commissioners last month tabled the request to gain more information on the impact of a proposed new road and waterline extension across the creek and its related wetlands connecting the two sections.

As part of the second hearing, a new sketch plan was submitted. It reduced the total number of proposed lots from 49 to 45, eliminated the road across the creek and another road connection and proposed to extend the waterline by boring underneath the creek.

Neighbors praised the elimination of the road and changes to the waterline extension, but continued to object to the smaller lots and urged commissioners to maintain the larger lot size requirements.

“We’re going to have new developments, that’s understood, but at least make them R-40 or at least R-30,” urged Sharon Eatmon.

“Let’s try to be proactive and not reactive on all the new projects coming in,” Michael Simonoff said, asking why R-40 wasn’t an option.

“We’re not asking to stop growth, stop development,” said Wilbur Pace. “We’re simply asking you to impose some level of consideration for the community.”

He asked the board to retain the remaining 9-10 acres on Bull Head Road at R-40, noting, “It’s an extremely small concession at this point to the community and it’s the right thing to do.”

The proposed subdivision lots, including lots lining Bull Head Road, are accessed by interior roads. Commissioner Dan Cone said he’d like to see a vegetative buffer along Bull Head Road and supported reducing the five lots along the road to only four to make them visually appear larger and more compatible with the surrounding area.

“I don’t necessarily like all this growth, but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s a hard call, and it’s a hard call for me.”

Kevin Varnell of Stocks Engineering, representing the developer, conferred with Coleman and told commissioners the buffer would be acceptable, offering to extend it even further, but asked to keep the five lots as submitted because the project had already eliminated four lots from the original proposal.

Commissioner Fred Belfield moved to approve the project with the vegetative buffer and the five lots, but his motion failed.

Coleman then agreed to drop the five lots along the road to four, as Cone suggested, and commissioners quickly voted 6-1 to approve the conditional R-20 rezoning and revised subdivision plan, with Belfield the sole dissenter.

In other business, commissioners approved several commercial rezoning requests and another subdivision without opposition, recognized county employees for long-term service and heard a briefing on dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks due to the virus’ omicron variant.

“This morning, they are being overwhelmed with new cases,” new County Manager Stacie Shatzer said in her Jan. 3 report to the board. “We are up 1,244 new cases, up 300%. We are in a very dire situation, not just in our country, but in our county.”

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