Change would allow addition by college

Dec. 13, 2013 @ 07:39 PM

Vance-Granville Community College is in the process of extending its campus across Poplar Creek Road.

The Vance County Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend the county commissioners amend the zoning map and rezone three land tracts, totaling about 21 acres, located between U.S. 158 Bypass and Poplar Creek Road from light industrial to office institutional rezoning designation.

The commissioners will have the final vote on the zoning matter at the next monthly meeting on Jan. 6.

The planning staff report for this case states that two of the three land tracts are vacant but one has an existing building, formerly Power Equipment Plus.

Andrew Beal, public information officer for the college, wrote in an email that VGCC plans to renovate the existing building for educational purposes, which requires the land to be rezoned to office institutional.

“The process is still in the preliminary design stages,” Beal wrote. “This facility is being called ‘Building 10’ and represents an expansion of our main campus, the rest of which is located directly across Poplar Creek Road from these tracts of land. VGCC’s current plan and intention is for Building 10 to be used by our Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET), Fire/Rescue Services, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) programs. The classrooms in the building could also serve other programs as needs arise, such as continuing education/industry training classes.”

He wrote the college has no plans to construct new facilities on the land.

The three tracts are surrounded by St. James Catholic Church, the Staples Fulfillment Center and Interstate 85. The nearby properties are zoned office institutional, light industrial and residential.

The county’s land use ordinance defines office institutional as a zoning category established to provide an area of a non-retail commercial nature, such as professional businesses, medical offices, churches or academic-related institutional uses.

Light industrial zoning is established where the land use is for wholesale activities, industrial, research, warehousing and light manufacturing.

At the planning board meeting Thursday afternoon, planning director Jordan McMillen said the rezoning would reduce large-scale industrial uses that have the potential for a greater environmental impact, while not technically downsizing in density.

“The rezoning request better suits Vance-Granville Community College for growth in the future,” the planning report states. “From a planning prospective, the rezoning request is very reasonable. From looking at the surrounding area and zoning, it is apparent that office institutional uses are prevalent and have the potential for expansion within this area.”

The planning board members cited the property’s location in a transitional development area as one of their reasons for recommending the zoning change.

McMillen said the three land plots are located within the West Vance transitional development area.

The county’s land use ordinance characterizes a transitional development area as an area located along a transportation corridor that has experienced a limited amount of mixed growth previously and has the potential for such growth in the future.

The county established the zoning map in 2011 when the commissioners voted, 6-1, to approve the land use ordinance, which zoned the majority of the county as agricultural residential, with several areas surrounding Kerr Lake zoned as the open space category.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.