This link provides a streamlined explanation of the plan review process in the Planning Department: Planning Flow Chart
The Planning Section of this department serves as staff for the Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners on land use regulation enforcement. These regulations include Subdivision, Mobile Home Park, Flood, Stormwater, Watersupply Watershed, Junkyard, Billboard and Zoning Ordinances.
Since March 2003 the Planning Department, along with Environmental Health and Building Inspections, have used a Central Permitting System. This computer system allows for the status of permits to be easily followed in many ways including address, owners name, subdivision or contractor. We have a goal of making this information available online over the Internet.
The Planning Department is the first agency involved in the permitting process. After receiving an application we determine if the project is within the County's jurisdiction. If not, then the applicant must receive approval from the appropriate muncipality. If the property is in the County’s jurisdiction an address is assigned to the property. In 2007 we assigned over 800 new addresses. The staff will then review the proposed use for compliance with the zoning, stormwater, flood, billboard and noise overlay ordinances. If a manufactured home is proposed for the site we verify the age and previous location of the home. We issued over 1,000 Development permits in 2007.
When considering zoning as part of the County’s permitting process the Planning staff looks at whether the property is in a zoned area (not all parts of the County are zoned), and if the proposed use is allowed in the existing zone. The areas around the airports and schools are zoned for residential, commercial, and/or industrial. If the proposed use is not allowed in existing zones the property owner may request a rezoning. The Board of Commissioners holds on average about 3 rezoning public hearings a year.
The Stormwater and Watersupply watershed ordinances are designed to control the runoff from a rainfall event. We review site plans to ensure that runoff after development does not exceed predevelopment. If the runoff does exceed the predevelopment rates than the developer is required to retain a portion of the runoff. The site plan review looks at stream buffers, retention devices, nitrogen reduction and pollutant removal. In 2007 nearly 50 stormwater site plans were reviewed.
The flood ordinance is designed to require construction methods that will reduce damage to structures that are built in the 100 year flood plain. As part of the Development permit process we look at location, anticipated flood elevation and velocity of the water. The structure must then be designed to resist those potential hazards and have a finished floor 2 feet above the flood elevation. Twelve structures were built in the flood plain in 2007.
Billboards along highways in the county are controlled based on size, spacing, and proximity to a business, church or residence among other factors. The signs are prohibited along controlled access highways.
For structures that are built in areas subject to high noise from aircraft the noise overlay ordinance provides minimum construction standards. These standards, which apply to both residential and commercial buildings, establish maximum noise levels inside the structure. The building plans are reviewed to ensure that the windows, doors, siding, etc. will be sufficient to meet the minimum noise reduction standards. Ten structures were built in this area in 2007.
The manufactured home set up standards require homes that are being placed in Wayne County be less than 15 years old if they are coming from another county. Those that are already here must have had electricity on at the home within the past 90 days.
In addition to the ordinances described above an application for a Development Permit will occasionally cross the threshold for the subdivision or manufactured home ordinance implementation.
When a land owner is proposing to divide property into smaller lots they must comply with the requirements of the County Subdivision Ordinance. This ordinance specifies those items that must be installed prior to selling lots. These include streets, water lines, fire hydrants, street lights and street name signs. The ordinance requires lots meet a minimum size, streets a minimum width and notification to owners if surrounding land uses may pose a conflict. Subdivisions are not allowed in flood plains or in swine farm buffer areas. In 2007, 575 new lots were approved by the Planning Board.
If a land owner is proposing to create more than two manufactured home spaces on a lot then that property will be considered a mobile home park. This ordinance establishes minimum spacing, access, signage, health and fire protection standards. Homes occupied by farm workers or family members are exempt from these requirements.
Once a Development Permit has been issued, along with necessary permits from other Departments, construction may begin. Our office is then involved in the implemetation of the ordinances. The Zoning ordinance specifis permitted uses, parking, setbacks, and signage that are allowed for various uses. The Stormwater Ordinance may require detention ponds, grass swales or other devices be built. It may also require a payment into the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Fund. The Enforcement Officer will verify that these items, in partcular setback from property lines, are taken care of prior to a Certificate of Occupancy being issued. In the case of a manufactured home the skirting must be in place prior to the electricity being turned on.
The Enforcement Officer is also responsible for implementation of the Junkyard Ordinance. A person wantng to establish a junkyard or a person that has established one and wants to become legal must comply with the County Ordinance. The Enforcement Officer verifies location, distance to other uses and screening are in plae prior to approval being given.
Annual inspections help ensure ongoing compliance with county ordiances. Stormwater devices, billboards, junkyards and manufactured home parks are each inspected. In 2007 over 200 manufactured home parks were inspected, 80 plus stormwater devices, over 100 billboards, approximately 15 junkyards.
The County Commissioners recently adopted a Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This plan serves as a guide for the next 10 to 20 years in future land use decisions. It is divided into 12 sections: Transportation, Economic Development, Funding of County Services, Agriculture preservation/Grwth management. Water and Sewer, Schools, Housing and Neighborhoods, Public Safety, Downtown Revitalization, Parks and Recreation, Community Appearance, and Intergovernmental Cooperation. The vision statements, policies and actions in each of the 12 categories have been designed for regular use in guiding public decisions at the county level as well as providing information for private decisions. As officially adopted policies of the County; they are to be primarily used in managing growth and development as a foundation for decisions on County facilities and services.
Geographic Information Systems – Chip Crumpler, GIS Coordinator
Geographic Information Systems is a process, through the use of computers, to physically apply geographic coordinates to raw computer data in order to repliate information spatially in a map environment. GIS plays an enormous part in the day to day functions of local government; the way this information is distributed to other agencies and organizations, and how it is distributed to the public.
By using GIS to support our local government practices we:
Create an information base that shares/distributes information resources, reduces data redundancy, and increases data accuracy.
Can perform project analysis and provide decision support.
Can streamline processes, increasing effiiecy, automating tasks, and saving time and money.
The GIS Department offers Database design, maintenance and technical support to all county departments. We also provide technical assistance with installation and support of mapping software applications, map configurations and custom programming. We also maintain and support the central GIS server environment that empowers the enterprise GIS system. The GIS deparment also provides assistance and or manages ouside GIS subontractors that provide services with regards to the County GIS infrastructure. We also perform custom map creation/production for other local government departments/agencied and the public. Some of our current initiatives are:
Cadastral Base Tax Mapping: GIS helps agencies meet their primary responsibilities of ownership registration, parcel mapping, real property valuation, and data access. GIS provides the tools to more efficiently collect, convert, and improve map data; accurately assess properties; and provide Internet and Intranet access to this data for the public, business, and other organizations. The GIS department currently maintains a parcel database of 63,182 individual tracts. Public access to the cadastral parcel layer as well as many other layers is available “live” via the internet 24/7 or in our Tax office or parcel mapping office through our public access MapTouch terminals.
Economic Development: Our community through its internet mapping appliction using GIS technology allows our county’s information to be avilable 247 allowing access to information that developers may be in search of from other areas of the world. This public access to GIS allows Wayne County to turn our unique resources into economic success, ultimately advancing the quality of life of our citizens and strengthening the economic base of our community by retaining and growing existing businesses and attracting new investments.
Elections: GIS assists the Elections Department all year long with the myriad of tasks associated with elections. The voting process is all about geography. To get the correct ballot to the appropriate voter, elections departments must resolve the spatial relationship between the voter’s address and political districts, precinct boundaries, and water and school districts. Currently there are 2 mapping applications within the elections office with a staff person dedicated as the GIS specialist. Databases that are maintained would primarily be district boundaries, precinct boundaries, voter location information etc.
Emergency Services and Law Enforcement: GIS allows our law enforcement and emergency services personnel to effectively plan for emergency response, determine mitigation priorities, analyze historical events, and predict future events. GIS can also be used to get critical information to emergency responders upon dispatch. GIS also assists in tactical planning and response. A few of the base map layers that are mantained to achieve this are street centerline data with length and address ranges, and address point data for individual E911 address information and Emergency Service Districts data with responder information. The street centerlines currently contain 8890 street segments, the address point data currently involves 59,803 records and the Emrgency Service Districts contains 126 records. It is important to understand that these records are maintained not only for Wayne County but also for all incorporated areas as well.
Planning: No matter how large or small your community, planners must deal with spatial information: parcel, zoning and land use data, addresses, transportation networks, and housing stock. As a planner, we also study and keep track of multiple urban and regional indicators, forecast future community needs, and plan accordingly to guarantee the quality of life for everyone in livable communities. GIS map layers that assist in achieving this goal include zoning, flood zones, national wetlands inventory, regulated blue line streams, water supply – watershed protection areas, soils mapping, census data, street centerline data, address point data, utility infrastructure and parcel data to name a few.