Event planners have a new place to party

BY DAVID BRADLEY, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/22/19

SILER CITY — Event planners will have an easier task in Siler City’s Agricultural-Residential zoned areas after Siler City’s Town Board approved an amendment to the Siler City’s zoning …

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Event planners have a new place to party

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Posted

SILER CITY — Event planners will have an easier task in Siler City’s Agricultural-Residential zoned areas after Siler City’s Town Board approved an amendment to the Siler City’s zoning ordinances this week.

Before Monday’s action by the board, event venues were only allowed in areas zoned for commercial use.

By adding a new name and definition, commissioners are adding new permitting zones to the table of permitted uses.

The new classification “Event Center Limited” refers to a venue for public and/or private special events of fewer than 500 people, and it has two permitting sections. The acreage of the venue will determine what permitting process is required by the city.

If the lot size is less than five acres, the property owner must obtain a special use permit approved by the planning board.

If the size of the space is greater than five acres, it will be permitted through a much easier process. It is “permitted by right,” said Pittsboro Town Manager Bryan Thompson, meaning that the property owner’s use of their property is consistent with permitted uses in the zone.

Commissioner Lewis Fadely inquired of Jack Meadows, Siler City’s Director of Planning and Community Development, about the reason for the five-acre or larger site in the amendment. Meadows responded that large lots are found in the large, rural areas, but not in subdivisions.

Commissioner Thomas K. Price III, said that you could have fewer than five acres and still have 500 people. Parking would be a “nightmare” if you had 400 cars, and changes the use of the property, he said.

No matter what size the venue may be, the property owner must still follow all procedures required, such as a site improvements plan, parking, landscaping, and other building codes.

The planning board must approve the permit before it may be issued, by using the data given by the owner. The additional steps for a permit for the smaller space are because of extra issues such as parking for a large crowd in a small space. A smaller event location could cause traffic difficulties.

The facilities for these centers have been single family homes converted into use by the owners. Meadows said that if it’s obviously being used for events on a recurring basis, then permits will be required. If a home is just to be used one time for a wedding or other single-occurrence event, a permit is not needed.

Other items on the board’s agenda included discussion of a human relations task force developed by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners in 2018. There were five focus groups in the county working to involve the community and their leadership around the ideas of human relations, and the new task force is presenting its findings. Cecil Wilson, a representative of the task force, presented the group’s eventual plan to create a new structured organization to make certain that community needs are met and barriers in the system are reduced.

In addition, the committee suggests the use of a collective impact framework. This program would allow organizations to change their planning for one goal, to adopt and use a common goal with other organizations.

The idea behind this is based on the concept that no single government, business or policy can solve the complex issues in our ever-changing society. Adopting common goals aligns organizations together.

In another zoning matter, the board also defined “structure, completely or fully enclosed,” and “vehicle storage” in the town’s zoning ordinance. A “structure, completely/fully enclosed,” is defined as a building that has a full roof supported by connecting walls. It is secured, lockable, and provides visual screening.

Vehicle storage as defined, means, but is not limited to, facilities for trailers or cars that have been in need of repair for seven or more days, can’t move on their own, and are stored in a disorderly fashion.

In other business:

• The town has solicited requests for qualifications as part of its bid for a Community Development Block Grant for wastewater treatment plant improvements. The engineering firm McGill Associates was the only bidder for the project, and all requested requirements were met. Siler City now must negotiate compensation for the work needed.

• Approved an amendment to the annual general budget ordinance for airport renovations currently taking place. The addition of $6,609 to the general fund will fund required equipment to the taxiway.

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