By Paul T. Choate
Aug. 22, 2012. At the regular Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, Appalachian State University was granted a special public hearing on Sept. 11. The hearing will pertain to a rezoning request for property off of University Hall Drive.
Earlier in the meeting, the council had voted unanimously to allow ASU to withdraw their request for a text amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance’s (UDO) Table of Permissible Uses to allow university administrative offices in a B-3 General Business district.
The property in question is the former home of the Singing News, located at 330 University Hall Drive. ASU would like office space for its Human Resource Services in the building. It has been vacant for some time now and is currently owned by Maurice Templeton. ASU has a five-year lease purchase agreement with Templeton, and plans to purchase the property when the lease expires.
A June 7 document with an ASU letterhead sent to the Planning Department stated, “We believe our use of the building materially conforms to the use allowed in a B-3 zone. If not for the exception of ‘University’ uses in the zone, the current B-3 zone is suitable for use by State agencies.”
At a special public hearing on July 9 the Boone Area Planning Commission recommended that the Boone Town Council deny a request to permit administrative offices within any B-3 zone district in town.
“The majority of the Planning Commission members felt that changing the UDO to allow university office in any B-3 district was too broad of a request, and so they asked if any other options were considered — including rezoning,” said Greg Lovins, interim vice chancellor for business affairs, at the Aug. 21 meeting. “At that time the university did not own that former Singing News property and so, since we didn’t, we didn’t pursue that rezoning request. But after taking into consideration those concerns … we reconsidered and reevaluated those options.”
Lovins added that the university currently owns three consecutive parcels of land along University Hall Drive in addition to leasing the fourth parcel from Templeton. ASU hopes to have all four parcels rezoned to University-1 (U-1).
Planning and Inspections Director Bill Bailey noted that, as it is written in the UDO, U-1 was meant to be the main campus only.
“We recognize the need to try to allow the university to expand off of the main campus,” said Bailey.
Bailey said there is currently a plan in place to try to create a secondary U-2 district for facilities off of the main campus such as the one desired by ASU at the former Singing News building. He added, however, that it is not a quick process to create a new zoning category.
If the properties on University Hall Drive – as well as other off-campus properties – are rezoned as U-1 and then a U-2 district is created, subsequent rezoning would have to take place.
The special public hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 10, prior to the Planning Commission meeting, at the Council Chambers, located at 1500 Blowing Rock Road, Boone.
Some information in this article was obtained from a previous related article written by Jesse Wood. View it here: hcpress.com/news/app-state-the-pride-and-trepidation-of-boone.html.