Controversial rezoning back before Kannapolis City Council on Monday

  • Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 12:01 a.m.

KANNAPOLIS — An appeal of a controversial zoning decision is on the agenda for Monday’s Kannapolis City Council meeting.

Local resident Fred Wally is appealing a Feb. 6 decision by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission decision to assign the Campus Zoning district to an undeveloped 75.9-acre parcel off Davidson Road and N.C. 3.

The commission’s nine members voted unanimously to approve the rezoning request.

Starting in 2007, Wally and a group of area residents fought a previous attempt to rezone that property all the way to the N.C. Supreme Court.

In 2012, the high court nullified the 2007 rezoning due to a procedural error in Kannapolis’ rezoning process.

Speaking by phone Saturday morning, Wally said those residents are ready to fight this new attempt at rezoning.

At issue is whether the zoning is appropriate, as well as how the land will be developed.

The parcel was voluntarily annexed by Kannapolis in 2007, after passage of a special law in the N.C. General Assembly that allowed the city to go outside the three-mile radius from its city limits to do so.

According to a city staff report to City Council members, the then-owners of the property — Coddle Creek, LLC and Dave McCoy on behalf J.C. and Marie Wallace Charitable Remainder Trust — applied for a zoning change to Campus Development conditional zoning.

According to the city’s staff report, the CD district can include “light manufacturing, office, warehousing, distribution, institutional and limited retail and service uses in an attractive campus or corporate park setting with architectural design standards, landscaping, screening and buffering.”

Additionally, the report states, “The (Campus Zoning) district is intended for application in select areas of the City primarily for new development on previously undeveloped land,” although it may also be applied to other areas as warranted.

City Manager Mike Legg, reached by phone Saturday, said that at the time, Wayne Brothers planned some $120 million in commercial and retail development on a 20-acre section of the land.

A grocery store was among the uses being discussed for that retail section, Legg said.

The remainder, Legg said, could have been “anything from light industrial … very similar to our Kannapolis Gateway Business Park, or office uses.”

Residents opposed to the development took issue with the special law that allowed Kannapolis to annex the land in the first place.

Others claimed that the new designation constituted “spot zoning” that did not match the residential and rural character of nearby land.

From 2008 to 2012, attorneys fought the case in the courts, until the 2012 court decision left the property effectively without zoning.

However, Legg told the Post that the decision did not mean that Kannapolis’ zoning was wrong for the land. The court did not rule on the question of whether the city’s decision was “spot zoning.”

“The only thing the Supreme Court said was that there was an error in the procedures,” Legg said.

Also, Legg said, even when the county had control over the zoning, the uses permitted there have always been non-residential, Legg said.

“To have a non-residential hub surrounded by residential property is not unusual,” he said

The city has not issued any building permits in the interim period while no zoning was in effect.

But, Legg said, Cabarrus County did issue a permit for what Legg described as “a 25,000-square-foot operations center” for Wayne Brothers.

Wally said that residents are ready to continue fighting.

“I don’t expect (the council members) are going to do anything but rubber-stamp this zoning and move forward,” Wally said.

He said that the residents he represents are not opposed to business development, but they have reservations about the size and character of the developments that Campus Zoning would allow.

Legg said the city’s planning staff believes the request is reasonable.

“It’s economic growth for a county that’s suffering close to 10 percent unemployment,” Legg said.

The Kannapolis City Council meets Monday at 6 p.m. at the Kannapolis Train Station, 201 S. Main St.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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