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Planning Board resolves zoning, recognizes departing development manager

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Planning Board voted Tuesday to resolve a conflict in zoning for property at Trexler Loop and Seventh Street after a concern raised at a previous meeting.

The property had been zoned both general residential and rural residential, but it is now all general residential.

At the board’s last meeting, property owner Tammy Pinkston raised concerns about zoning the area rural residential because that could allow people to start animal breeding operations. The board decided to send the zoning case to a committee for discussion.

“As we got into this and the conversation progressed as we noted in the committee meeting, more data came our way,” said Preston Mitchell, the city’s development and code services manager. “Some of that data was feedback that we got from residents and from the property owner in the area, and that is (the area) feels and behaves more like a community, more like a neighborhood and less rural like you would have in the county.”

The committee recommended general residential zoning for all the property.

Board member PJ Ricks, who led the committee, said the area “behaves more like a residential community” rather than a rural, agricultural area. The rezoning will not hurt neighboring property owners, she said, and also resolves a split zoning.

“… You know this is one of my pet peeves,” Ricks said of split zoning.

She said the committee also addressed the concerns of Pinkston and the property’s owner, Daphni Piero Sciortino, who initially wanted to rezone her property to rural residential so she could move some operations of her pet grooming business to the home.

The board and Mitchell recommended that the city staff clearly define rules for kennels and animal breeding. Mitchell said there needs to be a clear distinction between a property owner’s dog having a litter and commercial breeding.

“When we learn that they’re operating in more of a commercial capacity than just the family dog having puppies, that’s where we would step in,” Mitchell said.

In other business, the board recognized Mitchell, whose last day with the city is Friday. He is moving to Johnson City, Tennessee, to join that city’s development services team and be closer to family.

“I’d like to move that while we as a Planning Board recognize Preston’s incredible application of his professionalism, his intellect, his energy and his phenomenal leadership have been applied to the good of the city, while we recognize just as bluntly that we hate for us and the city to lose that incredible gift we’ve been given for 14 years,” said board Chairman Bill Wagoner. “We wish for him, Rosy and Jack the absolute best, and it’s certainly due, deserved, and we applaud you for what you have done for the city of Salisbury.”

Mitchell reminisced about his time working with the Planning Board.

“It was 14 years on Oct. 4 here,” Mitchell said. “I remember my first Planning Board chairman was Jeff Smith, and that was when I started on October of ’04. And I’ve been the Planning Board liaison the entire time, and even though my position has changed three times, I’ve remained the Planning Board liaison. And I’ve absolutely loved every bit of it. And I love this city so much, and I’m going to miss it dearly.”

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