Kannapolis may annex 372 acres on I-85 in Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS ó Seven tracts of land along Interstate 85 near China Grove, totalling about 372 acres, may soon become Kannapolis’ newest economic development project.
But first, the N.C. General Assembly must pass special legislation to allow the area to be annexed by the city.
And both city and landowners must work to find a master developer willing to bring a project to the site before Kannapolis would be willing to make annexation final ó sometime between now and the end of September 2011.
The first step in the process was taken at Monday’s Kannapolis City Council meeting when members voted unanimously to ask N.C. Rep. Fred Steen, a Republican from Landis, to introduce a bill allowing Kannapolis to annex the land.
The special bill is required by law because China Grove’s town limits are closer to the land than Kannapolis’ border.
The choice of Kannapolis over China Grove or Landis, which is in a better position to provide utilities, could be cause for debate.
But the group of landowners, known as the GDRM partnership, has been in talks with Kannapolis city staff “for more than a year,” according to City Manager Mike Legg’s written presentation to council members.
Legg said the property would be home to non-residential development.
According to documents submitted to the council, GDRM is represented by landowners Doug Patterson, Randal Patterson and Gary Morton.
The resolution adopted by Kannapolis states that landowners “desire to reduce uncertainty surrounding the provision of utilities and other municipal services critical to the development of the property.”
Robert Van Geons, executive director of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, told the council now is the time to act.
Steen will have about three weeks to introduce a bill for the current legislative session.
Van Geons said if this window of opportunity is missed, it might take more than a year to try again.
“Without a doubt, the potential of this corridor is tremendous,” Van Geons said. “It’s a new gateway to Landis, it provides access to China Grove.”
But he acknowledged those communities might have questions about the development.
“They do have concerns, there’s no doubt about that,” Van Geons said.
Councilman Richard Anderson said he was concerned the Kannapolis City Council had had no discussions with the town boards of Landis or China Grove on the proposed annexation.
Councilman Darrell Hinnant praised the proposal, saying it could actually create better relationships not only with those towns, but with Rowan County’s economic development leaders.
Van Geons and Legg stressed the special bill will not mean the land is immediately annexed. The resolution specifies an effective date of September 30, 2011.
According to them, Kannapolis will be free to withdraw the bill if issues arise with other communities or if it is impossible to find a master developer.
Another key element is a proposed interchange at Interstate 85 and Old Beatty Ford Road near the site. There are no current plans to fund this proposed interchange, Legg said.
Rowan County commissioners Carl Ford and Raymond Coltrain sat in the audience but did not address the council.
Following the meeting, Coltrain said he was pleased with the outcome.
“The property owners have asked for it,” Coltrain said. “I think it’s right to at least continue the conversation.”