Elkin tackles multi-family housing | Yadkin Ripple

Elkin town planner Sarah Harris addresses the Elkin town board on Monday, Sept. 14, regarding multi-family housing in the town’s zoning ordinances.

A large number of Elkin residents turned out for the Elkin town board meeting held on Monday, Sept. 14, to speak at a public hearing concerning a change to the town’s zoning code.

The proposed change would add multi-family housing back to the town’s R-12 residential districts, which encompass most of the residential area in the town.

According to town planner Sarah Harris, when the town amended the zoning code during the past year to eliminate multi-family housing from R-12 districts it was overlooked that already existing multi-family housing would not be able to be built back in case of a fire or other damage. They are not in compliance with the code, and having existed before the code was changed to eliminate them, are allowed to remain, but would not be able to be rebuilt if it ever became necessary. She cited properties on West Main, Elk Spur and Church Streets which met those conditions.

Harris presented a motion for the board to allow multi-family housing in R-12 (up to four units per acre of land) in order to protect those property owners until the town’s zoning ordinances are completely overhauled.

After a number of comments from residents who were opposed to the measure, the board moved to table the measure indefinitely while a scheduled study on updates to the zoning code takes place.

Main Street resident Dan Whelan opposed changing a whole district to accommodate four or five people, and instead suggested the town follow the Disney plan, and put everything where people expect it to be. “Disney wouldn’t put a log flume in Tomorrowland. That would ruin the experience.” He added that as Elkin attempts to re-brand itself as a tourist destination, it would be wise to keep West Main and adjacent streets as an early 19th century residential area so that it doesn’t interfere with that experience. “Everyone wants Elkin to prosper. Bring in the money and send them back home. Improve everyone’s life.”

Roy Tomlinson voiced the concern of several speakers concerning a property on Vine Street that has, as Tomlinson put it, “gone from a funeral home to a party palace.” Maybe it’s going to be a bed and breakfast, or triplex apartments, he added.

West Caudle of Harris Avenue asked the board to table the action until land-use planning was completed.

Commissioner Cicily McCullough made a motion to table the measure after the public hearing concluded and Commissioner Tommy Wheeler seconded it.

After discussion which included Commissioner Jeff Eidson commenting that the large block of R-12 needs to be broken up into more varied residential areas.

The motion was carried unanimously.