New vote but no change on airport de-annexation request

  • Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 1:22 a.m.
Rowan County Commissioner Chad Mitchell
Rowan County Commissioner Chad Mitchell

SALISBURY — Rowan commissioners are still going to ask state lawmakers to de-annex the county airport.

Fact Box

Also at Monday’s meeting, Rowan County commissioners did the following:

• Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a special non-residential intensity allocation, which allows Atwell Volunteer Fire Department to continue with plans to build a substation on Unity Church Road.

Fire officials said the construction will help lower insurance rates for some residents.

• Commissioners voted unanimously to put two empty DSS buildings into their budget discussions, but will entertain proposals from the Rowan-Salisbury School System for the properties until March 18.

Commissioners said the RSSS board appears to be working with the city to develop a site on South Main Street and several said they would like to see the properties house county department storage.

• Commissioners unanimously approved John Dwinell’s request for a conditional use permit to build a storage facility on his Country Ridge Road property.

Chairman Jim Sides said he wanted to revisit the issue — despite it passing by a 3-1 vote at a Feb. 18 meeting — now that Commissioner Chad Mitchell has returned from a trip.

With Mitchell’s vote, the request passed 4-1.

Vice Chairman Craig Pierce and Commissioner Mike Caskey also supported the request that asks legislators to file a bill to remove the airport from Salisbury city limits.

Commissioner Jon Barber continued his opposition.

Mitchell said he supported the resolution because currently two boards can raise taxes, which scares away prospective clients.

“Either of these two boards can effectively double the tax rate at the airport right now,” Mitchell said.

The airport has been a source of tension for years as city and county officials have dueled over taxes which split between the two bodies.

If the airport were de-annexed, the county would control the full tax revenue. The county plans to drop the tax rate to draw more prospective clients.

Last month, Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson proposed a new agreement to Sides, offering to drop the rate and use the city’s tax revenue toward airport development for the next few years.

At a prior meeting, Sides told the board he was “not comfortable” with the arrangement.

The city has since asked for the two boards to meet with lawmakers to discuss the issue.

Barber had similar remarks to the last meeting, asking for more time to meet with the other parties.

Several people, Barber said, have urged commissioners to be reasonable and hear the City Council out.

“I think it’s time for us to take the high road and show that we are reasonable,” Barber said. “I would rather that we wait until our next meeting on March 18 to pass any resolution” with regards to the airport de-annexation.

“Let’s accept the olive branch, not pour gasoline on the fire,” he said.

But Vice Chairman Craig Pierce questioned Barber’s approach, saying county officials know what the city wants.

“I don’t follow Commissioner Barber’s thinking at all,” Pierce said. “The city has already voted unanimously to try to defeat this proposal so I don’t understand what the purpose of the meeting is about. They’ve made their point very clear that they’re going to oppose this.”

N.C. Rep. Carl Ford has stated he will support a bill to de-annex the airport. N.C. Rep. Harry Warren said he isn’t opposed to de-annexation, but would like to weigh all options.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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