Siding With Neighbors, County Rejects Rezoning Of Former Country Store

In a unanimous vote, Johnston County Commissioners have rejected a request by a Benson man to convert a vacant country store into a Community Place.

In Nov. 2018, Jody Dale Lee of Benson petitioned the County to convert a vacant 4,000 square foot brick building at 1715 Hannah Creek Road near Benson into a venue to house reunions and wedding parties.

During a January 2019 planning board meeting, Lee told the board he picked the spot because it was in the country and there was nothing around it.  He also said traffic would not be an issue because of the rural setting.

However, several nearby residents took issue with the rezoning.  Ms. Joy Pollard who lives across the street from the site said her main concern was a bar being allowed.

Trent Tucker said he bought land 200 feet from the building with intentions on buildings a house. During a Public Hearing, Tucker told the planning board he didn’t want a party venue that close by.  Tucker said he had no problem with the building being used as a office or related-use.

Brenda McLamb said she owns a house less than 100 yards away and expressed concern about property values if it turned into a bar or a place that allowed alcohol use.  She also said she was concerned about traffic since it was near South Johnston High School.

McLamb’s husband, Timmy McLamb, addressed the planning board saying he farms the adjacent land and said the rezoning request was too vague without some type of specifics.  He said he was fine seeing the building used again as a country store since the nearest store was several miles away.

Charlotte Tucker said they own a campground in the area and would love to have more businesses nearby, but like Mr. McLamb, wanted to see the applicant have a more specific use.  She added that a wedding venue was within three miles and saw no real need for the proposed use.

Dale Wood said he has lived in the area for 60 years and believes a General Business rezoning was too broad and vague.  He added a special use needed to be tied to any rezoning application.

The planning board voted unanimously, 9-0, to deny Lee’s request. During the March 4th meeting of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, no one attended the rezoning hearing to represent Mr. Lee.  Due to the planning board recommendation, and having no one to present the case, Commissioners voted unanimously, 7-0, to deny the request.