Pittsboro asks for concessions on new storage facility

The proposed facility will feature 100,000 square feet of enclosed storage space as well as room for RVs and boats.


A potential new storage facility was the main topic of discussion at the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners April 8 meeting, with a public hearing on the rezoning request needed for construction to move forward.

The approximately 11 acres of property located at on the 2300-block of US Highway 64 Business West — due west from the recently approved Reeves Farm development — would need to change from RA-2 to M-1 conditional zoning for the project to move forward.

“The owner says he intends to utilize the site for a maximum of 100,000 square feet of enclosed storage space and he intends to place 40 permanent parking spaces for boats and RVs,” said planning director Randall Cahoon-Tingle. “The owner, in his application, states that his intention is to preserve the rural and agricultural features in the building’s design and design elements. There will be no on-site employees, customers will access the site via a keypad and the nighttime lighting is intended to be aimed downward and to be unobtrusive.”

“I am impressed with the extent in which this applicant has demonstrated their willingness to attend to the unique concerns of this community,” said Commissioner John Bonitz. “I don’t own a boat, but reckon the people that are moving into Reeves Farm might, and they’re not going to be able to store it in their neighborhood because we’re asking for such a tight density, narrow plot lines and no parking areas. I think that the storage is needed. There’s much better ways to stimulate our economy, but I am sympathetic to the applicant’s history with the process and I’m open to approval of this project with additional concessions and conditions.”

The biggest expressed concern is that a storage facility doesn’t fit the residential agricultural land use plan for the area. Planning board recommended denying the zoning request.

“I agree with our planning board and our planning staff,” said Commissioner J.A. Farrell. “This does not match the land use plan. It’s an RA-2, residential agricultural area, and I’m not in support of this rezoning.”

However, after a motion to deny the request failed 4-2, with Farrell and Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Baldwin dissenting, the board agreed (by 4-2, with the same nays) to hold the matter until May 13.

“A thing that I have been consistent about and I think I feel the need to be consistent about here again is my extreme dislike for what I call, ‘on-the-fly editing’ and the kind of policymaking that’s hashed out in sessions like this,” Bonitz said. “It really, really offends me, so despite my concern for the applicant and probably his desire for a resolution tonight, I think what I would greatly prefer is that we list the items of concern, see that we attend to those lists, delegate those to staff to go back and have those written as conditions because they don’t appear in the conditions right now and then have it come back for a vote.”

The lengthly list of concerns to be addressed include annexation before the construction stage, compliance with dark-skies ordinances before the final site plan approval, changing the opaque screen to a fence in the buffer, maintaining an 80-foot buffer on the sides and 60-foot buffer on the front with the fence added for security, rooftop solar as an item in the conditions, up-to-date camera technology that maximizes the use of low-light conditions for security, structures not being located in the designated natural resource conservation target area and the hours of operation.

“My objective with this property was that if someone were to come from out of town and drive by it, they would think it looks like a farm with solar panels on it,” said Nikkolas Shramek, the petitioner. “I have a deep rooted commitment to sustainability, environmental protection to a degree, looking for sustainable energy resources… Creating a very unobtrusive situation with that property is my biggest concern. I treat any project that I do as if I was the neighbor of one of those projects.”

In other business, the Commissioners appointed Steven “Zed” Henry to the Pittsboro Downtown Advisory Board, and approved an agreement with NCDOT for sidewalk funding.

NCDOT will provide reimbursement of 80% or $506,000, with the town providing a match of 20% or $126,500, for the installation of sidewalks to provide access to Town Lake Park from several public entities including Pittsboro Elementary School, Robeson Creek Greenway, the downtown area, the public library, the senior center and Central Carolina Community College.

The Town of Pittsboro Board of Commissioners will next meet May 13.