Kannapolis City Council upholds divisive rezoning decision

  • Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 12:51 a.m.

KANNAPOLIS — A divided Kannapolis City Council voted Monday to uphold the February decision to rezone 75.9 acres of property off N.C. 3 and Davidson Road — a change that opponents say is out of conformity with surrounding land.

The 5-to-1 vote to uphold the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision came after an appeal by Odell area resident Fred Wally, spokesman for community group StopRezoningNow.

Councilman Roger Haas cast the dissenting vote. He didn’t comment on his reasons for doing so during the meeting.

Councilman Tom Kincaid was absent due to illness.

Monday’s vote is the latest step in a six-year battle over the voluntary annexation and zoning of the property, where Kannapolis-based Wayne Brothers, Inc. has planned to build an office facility.

Retail development, including a possible grocery store, are among other uses that have been contemplated for the site.

Nearby residents and property owners have opposed those plans to develop the property.

A 2008 decision to apply Campus Development conditional use zoning resulted in a court battle.

In 2012, the N.C. Supreme Court overturned that zoning decision due to a procedural problem, leaving the land with no zoning.

“We had to take action,” said Planning Director Kris Krider in his report to council members on the current zoning request.

Krider addressed the concerns he’d heard expressed at what he called “a very frank discussion” in December, and since, with many members of the Odell community present.

Krider described the goals of the new zoning, which he said would allow “a high-quality mixture of employment and/or institutional uses,” according to the materials he presented.

The goal is flexibility, Krider said, but at the same time, “This is not an industrial park,” Krider said. “This is something that must be designed with a high degree of standards.”

“If you take action on this tonight, no development can proceed, it simply can’t, until an application for a site plan is submitted,” Krider said.

Opponents, including Wally, said the new zoning would bring development that is out of character for the area, overloading the two-lane roads that run there.

Norman Anderson, a resident of Deer Run Court, spoke at the public hearing against the “industrialization of this site.”

Wally said the new zoning was, to him, spot zoning.

“The county zoning plan for this area is for it to remain a low-density residential and agricultural use district,” Wally said.

Also, Wally said, an industrial and commercial development should not go next to the watershed for the Coddle Creek reservoir.

Finally, he said, the courts have ruled that there must be “real and substantial” benefits not just to the property owner, but the community.

To the potential for a grocery store or retail development nearby, Wally said, “Yes, it might be convenient, but it won’t be a real need,” Wally said.

He asked council members to deny the zoning decision of the commission and direct city staff members to find a more appropriate classification.

Immediately after the vote, during a recess, Wally and Krider spoke to one another briefly and cordially, though they continued to disagree on the course of action.

A few minutes later, outside the meeting room, Wally gave the news media a copy of what he described as a draft of a bill that will be introduced by N.C. Rep. Larry Pittman.

The draft bill, marked “not ready for introduction,” contains text that would repeal the 2007 law that allowed Kannapolis to voluntarily annex land outside of the three-mile zone near its borders.

Additionally, the draft bill states that “Any annexation ordinance adopted by the City of Kannapolis” under that 2007 law “is repealed and has no force or effect.”

Wally referred questions about the potential bill to Pittman’s office. “That’s a separate issue,” Wally said.

At the same time, Wally said he believed the intent had been to hold onto the bill until Monday’s appeal of the zoning decision.

City Manager Mike Legg mentioned the potential bill to council members later in Monday’s meeting, saying he didn’t know whether it would be introduced or not.

Asked by a member of the media whether legal action was being considered, Wally said, “I don’t see where we have any other option.”

“We’ll have to talk to our legal folks,” Wally said. “We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the money to do this.”

However, Wally added, there is support in the community for legal action.

“It’s a doggone shame it got to this,” Wally said.

In other business, the Kannapolis City Council:

• Voted 6-to-0 to accept $6,490.61 donated from the estate of the late Harold Lee Cook, earmarking it for the new City Hall and Police Headquarters facility.

No conditions were placed on the donation, but city staff noted that the Cook family would be “pleased” to see the money used for “a public art project” at the new facility.

• Voted 6-to-0 to recommend Carol Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, to a seat on the RowanWorks Economic Development Board of Directors.

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

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