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Zebulon OKs 1,000 new homes while eying fire, police coverage

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ZEBULON — Elected officials voted Monday to let the proposed development of more than 1,000 new homes in two proposed subdivisions in Zebulon move forward, but recognized that the projects may strain public safety resources.

The Zebulon Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to rezone two tracts of land where a developer is planning to build the subdivisions. The rezoning allows a greater density of homes on the property.

The Sidney Creek development site comprises 215 acres just outside the town limits, between N.C. Highway 39 and Chamblee Road. The developer, Mike Stocks, plans to build 822 homes on the currently vacant land, Zebulon assistant planning director Meade Bradshaw told commissioners.

The second subdivision, Weavers Ridge, would be between Cunningham and Glory roads, adjacent to the Weavers Pond subdivision. Stocks plans to build 182 homes on the land, Bradshaw said.

Both rezonings were approved by unanimous vote after the town’s fire and police chiefs discussed how the influx of new citizens would put pressure on the town’s emergency resources.

Responding to a question from Commissioner R. Dale Beck, Fire Chief Chris Perry said it may be difficult for firefighters to respond to the Sidney Creek subdivision within four minutes, which is the department’s goal for response times. The town only has one fire station.

“This is definitely one of those farther areas from our existing station, and it is also remote as we look to locate a new fire station,” Perry said.

A previous analysis by a consultant suggested that the town build a new fire station closer to the U.S. Highway 64 and N.C. Highway 96 corridor, on the north side of town, Perry said. He added that although the analysis took into consideration future growth, he wasn’t sure if the north side of town would still be the best location for a new station if more than 800 homes are being built on the south side of town.

Perry pointed out that the analysis recommended building a second new fire station on the east side of town in about 10-15 years.

“I think that time may need to step up a little bit,” Beck said.

“Yes sir,” Perry responded. “I think that may be in the public’s best interest.”

Commissioner Curtis Strickland asked if the Wake County Sheriff’s Office would continue to patrol and respond to calls in the new subdivisions once they are brought into the city limits, since the citizens would pay county taxes.

But Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said the town would be the primary law enforcement response to these areas, and deputies would provide backup and support only when needed.

“As a general rule they will not answer calls once it is incorporated in the city,” Hayworth said, noting that usually two deputies are stationed in eastern Wake County at any given time.

Hayworth added that the Zebulon Police Department already patrols areas around the Sidney Creek subdivision, including near the community center.

“So it is out a little ways but if at some point we take it in, we’ll patrol it,” Hayworth said.

Both subdivisions are seeking a special use permit from the town. Commissioners and the town’s planning board will hold a joint public hearing to discuss those permits at 7 p.m. Monday at town hall. The board will vote on the permits at a later date.

In other business Monday, commissioners voted to:

• Require businesses be open before receiving funds from the town’s facade grant.

• Partner with the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce to execute a business retention and expansion plan.

• Reappoint Larry Loucks and Tad Adams to the Board of Adjustment and held off on making one appointment to the town’s planning board, voting to have the candidates speak to commissioners at a future meeting.

• Amend the town’s personnel policy to allow town employees to use sick time for maternity or paternity leave.

• Approve approximately $270,00 from Wake County to reimburse a portion of the cost of two recently purchased fire trucks.

• Fund $21,200 to purchase equipment that will allow the town’s public safety radios to communicate with the town’s public works radios.

• Close Eddins Street, an unimproved public right-of-way adjacent to Wakefield Central Baptist Church.

• Approved a grant request from Preservation Zebulon to add its logo to the “Welcome to Downtown Zebulon” sign.

• Approved a funding agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation for the construction of the first phase of Beaverdam Creek Greenway and accepted a $1.6 million grant from NCDOT toward the project.