Rezoning sought for city parks


By Tom Joyce - [email protected]



Though many citizens think of Riverside Park as a recreation facility, it actually is zoned for industrial use.


Tom Joyce | The News

There’s been no talk of building a factory on the grounds of Riverside Park in Mount Airy or an apartment complex at another city recreational facility (Tharrington School Park), which present zoning classifications technically allow.

However, a movement is under way to clean up the zoning designations of those and similar facilities around town, also including Westwood Park on Galax Trail, H.B. Rowe Environmental Park on Hamburg Street and Graham Field, located off North Main Street.

The sites now represent a hodgepodge of zoning districts that permit various industrial and residential uses, which Mount Airy Planning Department personnel are now trying to rectify. This will include holding a public hearing later this month.

City Planning Director Andy Goodall described the process Thursday as “map maintenance” in reference to the lack of uniformity now evident among the recreational facilities.

Riverside Park presently is zoned M-1, for industrial use, as is Westwood Park, a sprawling 88-acre site.

Meanwhile, Tharrington School Park, occupying 23 acres in the 1000 block of Spring Street, is in an area zoned both R-6 (general residential) and R-8 (single-family residential).

H.B. Rowe Environmental Park, a smaller facility that is linked to the Ararat River Greenway, is zoned R-8, while Graham Field occupies a seven-acre tract in an R-6 zone.

It is believed that such strange designations for local recreational facilities is a throwback to times when the sites these occupy were part of larger industrial or residential zones nearby, which have remained in place in the years since.

In an effort to clean up the zoning, Goodall is proposing — with the approval of the Mount Airy Planning Board — that all five park and recreation facilities be rezoned to B-3 CD (a neighborhood business district allowing conditional uses).

Along with the public park facet, that would include use by mobile food vendors, which are on site during games and special events.

During a meeting Thursday afternoon, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners set a public hearing on the proposed change — a legal requirement for rezoning cases — which will be held during the board’s next meeting on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.

The rezoning is expected to garner no opposition.

Other business

Also Thursday afternoon, the city commissioners:

• Approved a budget amendment of $71,000 to cover services related to a redevelopment effort for the former Spencer’s Inc. property now owned by the city government. These will include a brownfield (environmental) assessment, a vapor assessment and laser scanning services for the Spencer’s property.

Mayor David Rowe said the money to pay for this will come from an earlier announced fund of $382,500 set aside for pre-development activities at the site.

• Appointed Amy Heath to the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Commission. Heath will fill the unexpired term of Reagan Tidd, who has moved outside the city limits. That term expires on Dec. 1. Heath is a preschool teacher.

• Reappointed three members to the city Relocation/Retirement Committee — Allen Burton, Burke Robertson and Ashly Lancaster. The new terms of all three will expire on Aug. 30, 2019.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Though many citizens think of Riverside Park as a recreation facility, it actually is zoned for industrial use.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_Rezone-this.jpgThough many citizens think of Riverside Park as a recreation facility, it actually is zoned for industrial use. Tom Joyce | The News

By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

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