Council OKs tourism office at Mills


Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Rocky Mount City Council on Monday approved a travel and tourism office for Rocky Mount Mills.

A second mill project, a rooming house, didn't need approval since it falls under current permissions. That project, at 1032 Falls Road, was initially classified as a hotel, which requires a minimum of six rooms. City planning staff, at the request of Councilman Reuben Blackwell, determined the project's site plans call for only four rooms, making it a rooming house instead of a hotel.

“The use is allowed by right under current zoning and doesn't need a special use permit,” said JoSeth Bocook, the city's interim planning director.

The council unanimously approved the special use permit for commercial use in a historical preservation area. The travel and tourism office will occupy a former two-story residence at 1104 Falls Road.

The renovated office will enhance the surrounding historic district, said Dan Jewell, a landscape architect working for Rocky Mount Mills.

The office will be located across from the Mills’ main campus on Falls Road. Parking for the office will flow into an adjacent lot and not burden side streets, Jewell testified during a quasi-judicial public hearing on the matter.

In approving the permit, the council determined the office would meet all required conditions and be harmonious with the surrounding area while not endangering public health or adversely affecting adjoining properties.

The council also voted unanimously to amend the city policy regulating alcohol use on city property. The amendment changed the length of time from four hours to eight hours, added Booker T. Theatre to the list of approved locations and clarified that the council can add or delete facilities from the list that allows alcohol consumption at any time.

Assistant City Manager Tom Moton the city needed more flexibility in the rules on serving alcohol at events.

The request to look at changing the policy came from an organizer planning a jazz festival with a big name performer, Moton said.