Home Local News Richmond County commissioners approve rezoning in Little Philadelphia community

Richmond County commissioners approve rezoning in Little Philadelphia community

ROCKINGHAM — Landowners in the Little Philadelphia community will be able to place manufactured homes on their property following on zoning change.

The Richmond County Board of Commissioners on Thursday morning unanimously voted to rezone an area along U.S. 1 just north of Rockingham from County Residential to Rural Residential following a second public hearing on the matter.

Planning Director Tracy Parris said the matter came up when Terkingness Covington approached the county’s Planning Board in November, asking for the rezoning so she could have a manufactured home on her 2-acre property.

The 129 parcels had been in the city of Rockingham’s ETJ until released to the county in January of 2020, according to Parris. When they came under the county’s jurisdiction, they were zoned County Residential, which has more strict requirements as to what land can be used for.

Under County Residential, the only type of housing permitted are site-built or modular homes.

The change to Rural Residential will also allow for manufactured homes, duplexes and triplexes.

A special use permit approved by the Board of Adjustments under Rural Residential would allow: apartments and condominiums; campgrounds and RV parks; manufactured home parks; family care homes; bed and breakfast inns; kennels; and open-air markets.

Both zoning categories allow churches.

During Tuesday’s public hearing, Parris read two letters in support of the rezoning.

One of those was from Covington.

“Prior to January of 2020 mobile homes were allowed to be placed in this area and if rezoned more mobile homes will not disrupt the integrity of the community,” Covington wrote. “I have spoken with several members of the community and all are in support of rezoning. Philadelphia is not only a community but a family that supports each other and wants the best for all.”

Paullett Wall, a licensed real estate agent and member of the community, also wrote in support of the change.

“… this rezoning could allow the citizens to enhance the overall appearance of the community,” Wall said in her letter. “Based on current tax evaluations, the purchased mobile homes would maintain the current (revenue) the county receives in yearly taxes.”

Following Tuesday’s meeting, residents had an additional 24 hours to submit public comments in writing.

Parris said she received one letter against the rezoning, from Ramona Galbreath.

“This process feels rushed,” Galbreath said in the opening of her letter. “Two days is very little time for the public to hear, digest, and make a decision on issues that will have long term impacts on the community.”

Galbreath also had several questions regarding the rezoning, which Parris said she answered.

In her letter, Galbreath seemed to take issue with manufactured homes.

“Other housing options will be less desirable to investors as more manufactured homes are added to the area,” Galbreath wrote. “Manufactured homes are less expensive than site-built and modular homes and decrease in value just like a vehicle. Manufactured homes are not always as structurally sound since structural inspections are not required. This may cause a negative impact to future home values.”

Parris reiterated on Thursday that only one home would be allowed per 40,000 square-foot lot.

The Planning Board recommended the rezoning.

Commissioners Rick Watkins, Toni Maples, Tavares Bostic and Andy Grooms joined the meeting remotely, with Chairman Jeff Smart, Vice Chairman Justin Dawkins and Commissioner Don Bryant in the conference room. All commissioners voted in favor.

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 (Note: This story was edited to add a commissioner. 11:30 a.m.)