• 37°

Editorial: Put land use on agenda

Now that Arnold Chamberlain and Chad Mitchell are assured a year as chairman and vice chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, what might the people in this county expect?

A thorough, forward-looking land-use plan would be a good place for commissioners to start. Here’s where they have staked themselves out on the issue:

* Chamberlain: During planning sessions earlier this year, the chairman said “let’s do it or shut up” about it. He has urged fellow commissioners to be more involved in trying to advance land-use planning, saying what’s happening along Interstate 85 toward Charlotte is scary.

* Mitchell: Ambivalent might be the best word here. Mitchell says he’s against county dictates on land use but favors the creation of a map that will show how the county is developing. This sounds like an after-the-fact approach — here’s where the farm was turned into a high-density condo development, and there’s where the chemical company built a plant near the housing development.

* Jim Sides: The most resistant member on the board to land-use planning, Sides has said he’s not willing to spend any money on a plan and doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. But he has also said he’s “not 100 percent opposed.”

* Jon Barber: Planning seemed to be Barber’s middle name during the fall campaign. He talked about the county’s need to “connect the dots,” and advocated a land-use plan that will manage future growth and respect property owners’ rights.

* Tina Hall: Critical of the Urban Institute’s first stab at developing a plan for Rowan, Hall has spoken often of the need for land-use planning here but wants it done in-house.

Rowan needs land-use planning, and it appears the county is going to get it. First and foremost, commissioners need to say what they will do to make the plan effective.

Land-use planning is not zoning, but let’s be honest about this. It can be the first step toward zoning — or, since Rowan already has zoning, more stringent zoning. The independent streak in Rowan’s Scotch-Irish blood does not look on that possibility with enthusiasm, but think about it. A land-use plan is supposed to describe how and where the county would like to see different kinds of growth — literally, how the county wants land used here. What’s the best area for industrial development? How about housing? If you draw up a plan that states an ideal but do nothing to make it happen with zoning laws, the plan is virtually useless. Which do you think outside developers will care more about — a county’s hopes for land use or their own bottom line?

The real dilemma involves balancing ideal patterns of development with landowners’ desire to do whatever they want. The consensus may be that Rowan wants to retain some rural, farming areas, but not all farmers feel that way. They want the right to sell to the highest bidder, whatever the use, if and when they decide to sell. In the meantime, they want very low tax values.

Commissioners can anticipate loud resistance from some corners. Knowing they can’t satisfy everyone, they’ll have to separate the wheat from the chaff. Difficult decisions hang in the balance. So do the logic and livability of the way Rowan develops.

Comments

Comments closed.

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

Seven new COVID-19 deaths, 166 positives reported in county this week

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Two charged after suitcase of marijuana found in Jeep

Crime

Thomasville officer hospitalized after chase that started in Rowan County

Local

Board of elections discusses upgrading voting machines, making precinct changes

News

Lawmakers finalize how state will spend COVID-19 funds

Local

Salisbury Station one of several ‘hot spots’ included in NCDOT rail safety study

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, school considering options

News

Iredell County votes to move Confederate memorial to cemetery

Nation/World

Lara Trump may have eyes on running for a Senate seat

Local

Rowan among counties in Biden’s disaster declaration from November floods

Local

PETA plans protest at Salisbury Police Department on Friday

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, charter revoked

Coronavirus

29 new positives, no new COVID-19 deaths reported

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with drug crimes

News

Nesting no more: Eagles appear to have moved on from Duke’s Buck Station

Business

The Smoke Pit leaving downtown Salisbury for standalone building on Faith Road

Education

Shoutouts

High School

High school football: Hornets’ Gaither set the tone against West

Local

Salisbury to show off new fire station

Education

Livingstone College to host virtual Big Read events this month