Salisbury Planning Board votes to absorb Zoning Board of Adjustment
By Jessica Coates
SALISBURY — The same 12 people could soon be in charge of two different Salisbury city boards.
At Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting – held at 1 Water St. – members voted almost unanimously to merge the Planning Board with the Zoning Board of Adjustment, pending approval by the City Council.
The vote was 9-0, with one board member not voting and two others not at the meeting.
“Many other cities in North Carolina have combined their Planning Board and their ZBA into one board,” said city Development Services Manager Preston Mitchell after the meeting. “Because the Planning Board has training in what’s called quasijudicial decision-making processes, and everything the ZBA does is (quasijudicial).”
Quasijudicial processes occur when a public administrative group has duties resembling those of a court of law.
Mitchell also pointed out that the Zoning Board of Adjustment has had only three cases in the past four years.
“So that board only comes together to elect a chair and vice chair, and there’s no casework,” Mitchell said. “That can be frustrating. … (ZBA members) have volunteered their time to join this board (and) to help be a part of the government process. And they don’t ever meet?”
One of the reasons the Zoning Board of Adjustment has had so few cases is that many that fall under its jurisdiction are about variances and nonconformities, according to the city’s website.
On top of that, when Zoning Board of Adjustment members do get a case, Mitchell said, the infrequency of their meetings can make it difficult for board members to do their jobs effectively.
“So, if the Planning Board already has that training and they stay trained on it, because they meet twice a month … it only makes sense for (that) board … to then take that process over,” Mitchell said.
The clerk’s office will send a letter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment this week to notify its members of the near-unanimous Planning Board vote. From there, it will be up to the City Council, which holds its next meeting June 6.
In other business, city Senior Planner Starla Rogers introduced a text amendment that could create a process for residents to nominate their property as a historic landmark.
That topic will be reintroduced to the Planning Board at its June 13 meeting.
Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.
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