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Smithfield property owners squabble over rezoning

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SMITHFIELD — Two property owners’ dispute over a rezoning request was tabled until the Smithfield Town Council’s May 7 meeting in hopes their differences can be resolved.

Realtor Bonnie Godwin is seeking a special-use permit to allow a home within an institutional zoning district. The property is located on the north side of North Street, 100 feet east of its intersection with North Seventh Street.

But Dr. Richard Lee, whose medical practice is next door to Godwin’s proposed home, doesn’t approve.

“The block is all business,” said Lee. “There are a lot of EMT and large transport vehicles and I see that as a problem. We could have a potential problem with children running around.”

Lee also said his property and Godwin’s share the same driveway — one his patients use to access his office.

“We bought the property two years ago,” said Godwin. “When we bought it, there was a commercial person in there, but we’ve not been able to rent it as commercial. I would prefer to rent it as commercial, but the market isn’t there.”

A council member asked Godwin if she would put up a fence to prevent children from running into the parking lot and she said fencing could be done.

“Obviously, there are things which need to be worked out here,” said Mayor Pro-tem Travis Scott.

“If you have four or five kids back there playing basketball, that would (affect) the businesses,” said Councilman Emery Ashley.

I would be very interested to see about fencing,” said Godwin. “But I’d like to see who owns the driveway.”

Planning Director Stephen Wensman said no survey has been done for this property.

“The only solution is to find out about the property lines,” said Godwin. “Then we can put up a fence.”

“The staff will be willing to work with you to resolve your differences,” said Wensman.

The planning department recommended the town council approve Godwin’s request.

There are three medical offices on the street, Neuse Gastronterology at 709 North St., Johnston Memorial, 711 North St. and Dr. Manmohan Singh at 713 North St.

Wensman said there’s more than adequate parking for the residential use on the property.

The findings of fact from the town staff said single-family residential is a less intensive use than an office use and that the residential use of the property is consistent with and in harmony with existing development.

The town staff’s report also stated portions of the block are currently used for office and residential in harmony with each other, the residential use will have no impact on the utilities and that Godwin’s proposed use is consistent with Smithfield’s land use plan.