Commissioners want to vote on land use before election

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Rowan County commissioners want to see a land-use study sooner than later.
Commissioners expressed frustration Monday evening that the process to do a study for the western end of the county is taking longer than anticipated.
Some implied that the committee may want to delay a vote on a land-use plan until after the November election.
Chairman Arnold Chamberlain said commissioners will not tolerate “any perceived or actual delaying tactics.”
Commissioners made it clear they want the Land Use Steering Committee to complete its work quickly and get the plan to the Planning Board.
Chamberlain expressed confidence that the “Planning Board will do an excellent job” in dealing the committee’s recommendation.
Commissioner Jim Sides said it appears the committee “has somewhat strayed from what was planned.”
Sides went on to wonder aloud if the committee will get its work completed before the next three elections.
An opponent of property rights restrictions, Sides added, “I want them to get their work done so I can vote against it.””We will take the vote on (this plan),” said Chamberlain, echoing the sentiments of other commissioners.
“I would like to see it before this board,” said Vice Chairman Chad Mitchell.
Chamberlain, who opted not to seek re-election, will leave the board in December. Sides is seeking re-election.
Commissioners Tina Hall and Jon Barber had concerns.
“Are we in budget?” asked Barber.
Planning Director Ed Muire said the process has taken longer than expected. He estimated $5,000 remains in the contract with Benchmark, the Kannapolis planning firm hired to do the land-use study.
Muire said they may have to cut back on the number or quality of printing of the final plans. The final plan will be available on the county Web site.
Hall questioned the time the study has taken. The panel formed in August 2007.
“I didn’t anticipate it would take this long,” said Muire.
He assured commissioners that he will send an e-mail to the committee members pointing out the commissioners have drawn a line in the sand and want the process to move forward.
Muire praised the work of the 11- member committee. He noted that only one member of the committee has dropped out, while the prior land use effort more than two years ago had a high attrition rate.
Drawing another comparison, Muire said that nine months into the previous land use effort, the committee had no idea what it was doing.
He said this committee bought into the process and has taken ownership.
Muire also urged the public to attend two upcoming information workshops on the draft study.
The first workshop is Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. in the West Rowan High School cafeteria.
The second will be on July 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the South Rowan High School cafeteria.