By LAURA PATTERSON MCHALE
Of The Record Staff
The Erwin Board of Commissioners and officials had a late night Thursday as they tackled a lengthy agenda. The evening included items rolled over from the January meeting, which was canceled due to last month’s snow and ice.
A controversial topic on the agenda was a request to rezone property at 124 Don Ron Road from residential (R-15) to B-1 conditional district. The item was approved by the planning and zoning board and sent to the board of commissioners for approval. The item was denied by the board following public comments and the business owner saying he would not be able to operate with the requested conditions.
The request was made by ServPro, a residential and commercial cleaning and restoration service. The empty building at this address formerly housed Malthouse AppleWorks private school, and is in the middle of a residential neighborhood off Warren Road. The property is for sale.
Three years ago another business interested in the property asked for rezoning which was approved by the board with certain conditions regarding commercial traffic. The business did not start operations in the building and property reverted back to residential (R-15) in August of 2016.
The board room was full as residents who turned out to voice their concerns.
Lee Herring of Dunn, owner of ServPro, was the first to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting. Mr. Herring and his wife have owned the ServPro of Fayetteville franchise for more than 18 years, which is the business’ primary location. The business currently maintains office and warehouse space at Erwin Industrial Park, at the old Erwin Mills location, and would use the Don Ron Road location as a satellite location.
“The reason I’m here tonight is I’m asking for permission to have a building rezoned for the purposes of buying it,” said Mr. Herring. “We don’t currently own it, we are in negotiations to purchase the building.”
Mr. Herring said he wanted to use the property for office space, storage, parking and to conduct limited training for his employees. He said the business is a 24-hour emergency services business.
“Because we are a 24-hour, we do respond during business hours, after business hours and we also respond on weekends and holidays,” Mr. Herring said.
Mr. Herring said his business also orders a limited number of supplies, which are delivered by a trucking company using tractor- trailer trucks.
Commissioner Randy Baker questioned Mr. Herring on what impact his business would have on those living in the community.
He asked Mr. Herring about the business’ 24-hour response time and how it would affect area residences if ServPro had a call in the middle of the night.
“I’m thinking about a resident being peacefully asleep at 2 o’clock in the morning and you get a call,” Mr. Baker said.
“Currently employees who are on call do not drive vehicles home,” Mr. Herring said. “If they receive a call, they would get out of bed, drive to the office, pick up a vehicle and depart from there.”
Commissioner Baker noted there was an 18-wheeler road test performed previously at that location and there were concerns about heavy commercial traffic. He asked if ServPro could have deliveries made to its Fayetteville location and brought to the Erwin location using smaller vehicles.
“If the board were to place a condition that no large vehicles, such as tractor-trailers … would you be able to work that you deliver those supplies to the Fayetteville location and then utilize your smaller vehicles as you needed materials and bring them to this site?” Commissioner Baker asked Mr. Herring.
Mr. Herring said his business attempted that previously, but the profit was just not there.
Amy Hamby, who has lived on Don Ron Road with her family for 21 years, was one of those who spoke against the rezoning request. She spoke for some of the community members and presented to the board a petition containing more than 30 signatures of homeowners in the area.
Ms. Hamby said although the residents understood Mr. Herring’s position and his desire to have that building for his business, the residents wanted “to preserve the character of our current neighborhood and our community.”
Ms. Hamby expressed concerns about the 24/7 operations and also the tractor-trailer traffic. “Once we began to look at what was coming there,” she said, “we realized that this would be a 24/7 operation and there would be 18-wheeler traffic.
“We don’t believe it’s safe, we believe it apposes a risk for us,” Ms. Hamby added.
“I think that at some point in time there will come a business, an opportunity, that this structure could be utilized primarily for the conditional use it is zoned for,” Commissioner Baker expressed during the deliberation.
He said, “If it were to go to an approval for rezoning, that conditions would have to placed on it as it was before.”
Mr. Herring said it would not be feasible economically for him to go through with moving to the Don Ron Road location if this was done.
Commissioner Alvester McKoy made the motion to deny the rezoning request. It was seconded and the board voted to deny the request.
In Other Action
. The board approved a conditional use permit to allow a vehicular service business at 404 E. Jackson Blvd., U.S. 421, pending a driveway permit by NCDOT. Mohamed Y. Mohamed of Cary made the request with the intention of opening an auto sales business at this property that was the former location of Blessed and the Lighthouse restaurants. A condition was added that the business pave the parking lot with asphalt.
. The board tabled an item that requested a conditional use permit to allow a manufactured class A home at 715 N. 15th St. due to the applicant not being at the meeting.
. Also, Piedmont Natural Gas withdrew its request for an amendment to its conditional use permit to add a temporary construction trailer for additional office space at 413 E. Jackson Blvd. PNG has already moved into this location, and company officials plan on being at this site for around two years while they replace some of their older pipelines with newer equipment.