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Farm interests, developers trying to find common ground in Iredell

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
The man Rowan County hired to do a land-use plan for western Rowan is finishing up a county-wide plan for Iredell County.
Ron Smith was working for Kannapolis-based Benchmark when he convinced the Rowan County Board of Commissioners he could guide the process and forge a plan.
Smith easily won commissioners over with his ability to avoid “planner speak” and find common ground.
Commissioners approved a contract with Benchmark, primarily on the strength of Smith’s presentation.
Before the process got started, Iredell County came calling.
Smith, a Mooresville resident, rejoined Iredell County as planning director.
Before long, he was involved in Iredell’s first comprehensive land-use planning process. It’s taken about a year and should be enacted in June or July.
Iredell hired Chapel Hill- based Clarion Associates to assist with the process.
Smith said some people worried about the organization’s liberal view clashing with the more conservative views in Iredell County.
But that hasn’t happened.
“They’ve done a good job,” Smith said.
So far, Iredell has avoided a clash between farm interests and developers.
“The farming community in Iredell County wants to keep their options open,” he said. “They want protection, but they don’t want their hands bound.”
Iredell County’s land-use plan is much like Rowan’s zoning ó huge areas that allow development if the land will handle septic tanks.
Smith said the plan under consideration will designate area north of the South Yadkin River as agricultural residential. That will limit one housing unit per two acres, and is expected to promote cluster and conservation developments. Under those concepts, houses would be clustered with most of the acreage in open fields or woodlands.
Smith also noted the plan attempts to deal with a lot of smaller issues where development comes up against farmers, such as chemical spraying, odors and noise. “We’re not trying to prohibit development …… we’re putting an overlay in place that when you do development, you have to take certain things into consideration,” Smith said.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.

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