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Roanoke Rapids City Council Tuesday night approved a rezoning request tied to a former outdoor concert site and also approved an amendment to the city’s zoning map to pave the way for development once the Premier Boulevard extension project to Highway 125 is completed.

Total acreage in both rezoning matters comes to around 128. Both matters passed unanimously.

The first matter considered was a rezoning request submitted by Gil Cunningham, the owner of the former outdoor concert site at 395 Wallace Fork Road where a concert event called Rapids Jam was held.

As approved by city council the rezoning request changes the zoning of the property and its some 83 acres of land from I-2 Industrial District to a B-4 Commercial Entertainment Overlay District.

“The B-4 zoning of this undeveloped property … will better align this property’s zoning with the desired uses in the Entertainment District,” a brief description of the rezoning request said.

While the intended use of the property was not stated in documents pertaining to the rezoning, Ellen Heaton, of Heaton Real Estate, told council during the public hearing portion that the owners wanted to rezone the land back to the B-4 category. “With COVID over, people are getting out and doing things more.”

She was the only person who spoke on that rezoning request.

The B-4 district is designed to accommodate the widest range of commercial activities while the Entertainment Overlay District is located over all B-4 commercial district properties in the designated Carolina Crossroads area.

Any proposed construction and site plans are evaluated by city staff and the city’s development review committee which includes the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District, the North Carolina State Department of Transportation, the city’s public works department, Dominion Energy, and the city’s fire department and code enforcement.

Councilman Wayne Smith made the motion to approve the rezoning request with a second by Carl Ferebee after a statement of consistency was approved.

Premier Boulevard

Meanwhile, council approved the zoning map amendment which brings nearly 45 acres of land to a B-4 Commercial District. Four of the parcels were rezoned from R-40 residential to B-4 while one was rezoned from R-12 residential to B-4.

The action was in response to the anticipated completion of the extension of Premier Boulevard from Chockoyotte Creek to Highway 125.

City Manager Kelly Traynham said the extension is expected to be open soon. “The Premier Boulevard extension has been a vision for a long time.”

City Planner Joe Hatch wrote in the supporting documentation the amendment “would clarify the western alignment of B-4 designated property on the west side of I-95 as Premier Boulevard. Much of the land under consideration was designated B-4 in 2005, including I-95 frontage on the west side of I-95 from Chockoyotte Creek south to Highway 125.”

The documentation notes that at that time the alignment of Premier Boulevard was undetermined. “Now that Premier Boulevard has created a very obvious edge for zoning purposes, this zoning action would provide clarity as to what is or is not designated B-4.”

NCDOT said in 2018 that the Premier Boulevard project is part of the Highway 125 widening project.

The project extends Premier Boulevard southward and parallel to I-95 to where the contractor will realign the Highway 125 intersection and Three Bridges Road.

The project also extends American Legion Road from Highway 125 to the new portion of Premier Boulevard.

The state said then the widening of Highway 125 and the extension of the two roads will improve mobility, ease congestion and accommodate future traffic growth. The median along Highway 125 will increase safety by reducing left turns and redirecting motorists when leaving their homes or businesses.