LITTLE MOUNTAIN — The town of Little Mountain is facing issues with its current zoning ordinances after someone made changes to the town’s zoning maps without following procedure.
The zoning maps, which are public record, show that zone types were changed and zoning lines were added on Jan. 30, 2007, and are initialed OLJ. No one is claiming responsibility for the changes.
“Why this was done is a mystery, but we have to change the zones back so that our ordinates and zoning match,” Mayor Jana Jayroe recently told the members of Little Mountain’s Town Council.
Zoning maps break areas of land within a county, city or town into zones and the zones are then categorized as specific types to separate areas for residential property use from commercial property use.
The changes made in 2007 took zones that were marked as CC (core commercial) — the proper zone for commercial use — to R25 which makes the zone suitable for government buildings or commercial property.
These changes largely took place in the town’s historic and downtown districts.
“The only reason that someone would change a zone to R25 is to make it suitable for a government building,” said Jayroe. “However, there have not been any government buildings added in those areas.”
The proper procedure to change a zoning map could take months or even years to get approved. However, these changes did not follow procedure and were made in the zoning office, where the maps are permanently held.
Little Mountain Town Council must now work to change the zones to their original category. Even though the changes were made improperly, council must still follow the proper procedure set out in Article 13 of the zoning laws to fix the problem.
“Today’s discussion on the matter is to get everyone up to speed on the issue,” Jayroe told council. “Our first step will be to meet with the zoning board.”
The first step is for the town council to present the desired changes to the joint planning commission in September. The commission will then vote to approve, deny or approve with modifications the town’s proposal. After this, council will hold a public hearing, the first of two, at a town council meeting.
Following that public hearing, council must publish the time and date of the second public hearing in the newspaper, signs must be placed outside the properties that require change and letters must be sent notifying the owners and their neighbors of the public hearing. All of these actions must take place 15 days prior to the public hearing.
The public will then be able to voice its opinion of the changes to the council. Following the public hearing, a second and final hearing will be held at council’s discretion where a final decision will be made.