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The Wilkesboro Town Council unanimously approved text amendments Monday night to the town’s zoning ordinance that allow the construction of asphalt and concrete plants only in the town’s M1 (industrial) zones if certain conditions are met.

The new code specifies that asphalt and concrete plants in Wilkesboro must be located on parcels at least 10 acres in size, at least 100 feet from any property line and at least 250 feet from any residence, hospital, nursing, convalescence or retirement home, community center, school or church.

The code specifies that the town’s board of adjustment “shall be authorized to increase or decrease (the size and proximity) standards if the situation warrants.”

Truck routes to and from the site must be designed to minimize impacts on residential areas, schools or other uses negatively affected by truck traffic.

The plant is prohibited from producing “egregious and unnecessary” noise and/or vibrational nuisances outside its property.

The amendment states that fencing shall be at least six feet tall around the perimeter of the plant. A vegetative screen at least six feet tall must be set along any street right-of-way and any parcel line within 500 feet of residential property.

On Sept. 14, the council adopted a 60-day moratorium on issuance of any permits related to asphalt and concrete plants to allow town staff to draft the amendments, which were unanimously recommended by the town’s planning board on Sept. 29.

There are no asphalt plants in Wilkesboro, but a spokesman for West Jefferson-based Tri-County Paving said the company would consider building one in Wilkesboro during a North Wilkesboro Planning Board meeting on Aug. 13 concerning its request for rezoning land on Old Brickyard Road to allow an asphalt plant. The North Wilkesboro commissioners denied the rezoning request on Sept. 8.

No public comments were made during the public hearing, which was held in-person at town hall and virtually on Zoom.

Billboards

The council also unanimously approved text amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance that prohibits new billboard signs and restricts new freestanding signs.

New billboard signs are now prohibited within Wilkesboro town limits and the town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction. Previously, billboards were allowed at off-premises locations only and could not exceed 420 square feet.

Billboards were previously permitted on privately owned property and not on any road right-of-way or zones other than B2 (general business) or M1 (industrial). Existing billboards are not affected by the new code.

The code now states that all new freestanding signs must maintain a separation of at least 100 feet between signs, “unless separated by a public right-of-way in which instance a minimum separation of at least 50 feet is required.”

The changes were made to “prevent an oversaturation of billboards in the (town’s) planning and zoning jurisdiction” and gives property and business owners “protection for the usability/visibility of signs as new signs are installed within our community,” according to a report from the town’s planning department.

On Sept. 14, the council approved a 90-day moratorium on all new billboard applications to allow town staff to draft the amendments, which were unanimously recommended by the town’s planning board on Aug. 25.

No public comments were made during the public hearing on the matter.

Other matters

Also on Monday, the council called for three public hearings at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 concerning:

• the transfer of ownership of 100 Court Square (the old Wilkes jail site) to Finley Properties LLC for redevelopment. The town plans to sell the property for $100,000 and the developer plans to build 10 townhomes on the site. Town Manager Ken Noland added during a work session earlier on Monday that Finley also plans to build four to six townhomes at 200 Main Street on the old Bank of America building site. Finley bought that property from Mike and Janet Martinez for $213,000 in 2018;

• a rezoning request from Nhin Van Dang. Nhin is asking that property at 513 Highland Drive (the former State Farm Insurance building) be rezoned from R6 (general residential) to B2 (general business) so he can recruit new tenants; and

• a text amendment to the town zoning code to address residential off-street parking standards. The amendment addresses vehicles being parked in front lawns or dirt areas along streets, creating access and public nuisance issues.

The council presented a “key to the city” to Alton Absher, longtime general manager of the Wilkesboro Alcoholic Beverage Control stores.

Dr. Bill Hanlin was recognized for his eight years of service as a member of the town’s landscape and planning review board.

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