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Council rejects request for rezoning for private residence near airport


The council Thursday morning (March 18) approved three rezoning requests unanimously, but by an equally unanimous consensus voted to deny a rezoning request that would have allowed J. Patrick Harman to build a single-family dwelling next to his childhood home along Hatchery Road near the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport.

Councilman Bob Ward, who made the motion to deny the request, pointed out that Harman’s plans are inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive land-use plan, which designates the property in question for industrial use.

The city’s planning staff had also declined to endorse this request due to its incompatibility with the land-use plan. Although the land that Harman hopes to develop has been in his family for decades, the city’s planning staff has opposed the resident’s request on the grounds that the city’s land-use plan recommends industrial development along that particular stretch of Hatchery Road.

The staff’s objections received a bit of lift last month when the administrative head of the nearby Burlington-Alamance Airport shared his own concerns about Harman’s request with the members of Burlington’s planning and zoning commission.

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Dan Danieley, the executive director of the airport’s governing authority, told the planning commission that he and his colleagues are eager to keep the airspace over the Harman’s property clear in anticipation of a future extension of the facility’s runway.

This week, Danieley expanded on his concerns during the council’s public hearing on Tuesday night.

Danieley has previously noted that the home’s proposed site is situated along the approach to the airport’s runway.

The authority’s director has also acknowledged that the airport will ultimately want to obtain an “avignation” easement over the property in preparation for the runway’s eventual expansion.

During the council’s public hearing on Tuesday, Danieley conceded that the airport’s engineers have determined that this proposed easement would still allow a structure up to 71 feet high in this location. He nevertheless argued that Harman might find life in the flight path uncomfortable due to the roar of low-flying aircraft.

“He will not have that quiet and peaceful enjoyment when he moves in,” he insisted. “I want Mr. Harman to understand that he will not have a good night’s sleep.”

As it turns out, Harman won’t have the opportunity for disrupted, or sound, sleep.

While the planning board had recommended the rezoning on a 4-3 split vote, Burlington’s council members were unanimous Thursday morning in voting, 5-0, to deny the rezoning.

See coverage from earlier planning board deliberations:

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