Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
A Spencer area resident apparently wanted to get the point across that he opposes involuntary annexation.
Perhaps with the help of family or friends, he “stuffed the ballot box” at the land-use workshop at West Rowan High School last week, a county official said.
Ed Muire, Rowan County’s director of planning and development, shared the story with the Rowan County Planning Board Monday evening while giving an update on the effort to develop a land-use plan for areas west of Interstate 85.
Planners got more than 100 3-by-5-inch index cards bearing a handwritten messages against involuntary annexation. The writer also advised the county to “leave zoning alone.”
Zoning has been in force in the county for a decade, enacted Feb. 16, 1998.
After weeding out the duplicate cards, Muire said county officials received 72 opinion cards from the estimated 70 to 75 attending.
“That was a low turnout for West Rowan,” Muire said, adding that the “transparent process” isn’t generating the kind of opposition that surfaced during the last attempt to develop a land-use plan. During that attempt, more than 300 people showed up at West Rowan and soundly thrashed the effort and process.
He stressed that no decisions have been made and the county is not trying to decide what should be done with individual properties.
“We’re looking at the big picture,” Muire said. He encouraged members of the Planning Board to attend the workshop at South Rowan High School on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Board member Carl Ford, who has attended many of the Land Use Steering Committee meetings, also urged others to attend.
“This is pretty interesting stuff,” Ford said. “We’ll be voting on it.”
Board member Edwin Hammill again spoke up for farmland preservation and cited his concern that farmland is disappearing.
Muire said some farmland has clearly been taken for development, but he added that the county doesn’t have information on how much farmland has disappeared.
Information from the county tax office shows more land is now in the agricultural tax deferral program than in 2000.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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