Commercial zoning was the main topic of discussion at last night's hearing on the Mount Airy 1993 Comprehensive Plan.
A majority of the eight speakers urged the Town Council to look closely at the application of commercial zoning in the plan.
"I hear a lot of talk about residential zoning, but I don't think enough consideration is given to the commercial area of town," said Virginia Humphries.
Mrs. Humphries said she and her husband tried to open a day-care center on South Main Street in 1988, but the area was zoned residential. She urged that the property be rezoned for commercial use.
"We have spent years looking for a place in Mount Airy, but there's not enough opportunities," she said.
About 30 people attended the Town Council's hearing on the plan, a blueprint to guide growth and development over the next 10 years.
It was developed over two years by town planner Teresa Bamberger and planning commission members.
It was approved in August by the town's planning commission and is now being studied by the council.
Three speakers at the hearing asked the council to study the plan's proposed neighborhood centers, which would allow a mix of residential, home-business and office uses.
Originally, the plan contained six centers, but three were eliminated because of community opposition.
"I'm here to make a plea on behalf of the zoning community for flexibility," said Chris Batten, a land planning consultant from Westminster.
"One of the unfortunate things in this plan is the removal of neighborhood centers," he said.
"That was the concept that would have allowed some of the flexibility to be applied."
Mount Airy's last master plan was adopted in 1982.
The proposed plan aims to preserve Mount Airy's small-town character and adopt new zoning and land-use strategies.
The Town Council will schedule another workshop on the master plan at the next council meeting on Nov. 1.