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Farmland preservation, impact fees won’t be in plan for western Rowan

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
Recommendations for farmland preservation, impact fees for developers and dozens of other items won’t be part of the final land-use plan for western Rowan County.
While the steering committee appointed by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners will focus on those recommendations at an upcoming meeting, county planning staff have made clear they will not be considered for adoption.
And those recommendations won’t be part of the upcoming public workshops on the land-use plan, either. The recommendations have been taken out of the plan and put in a five-page strategic appendix.
The committee will meet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Hurley Room of the Rowan Public Library. The meeting had been scheduled for the county commissioners’ meeting room in the Cohen Administration Building, but that room was already reserved.
Against the advice of Planning Director Ed Muire, the committee decided to go forward with a review of the strategic appendix.
Some members of the committee want to delete the document, while many of the farmers and landowners on the panel want to put the recommendations for preserving farmland back into the main land-use document and force county commissioners to deal with them. Several of those recommendations would offer money to farmers.
In an e-mail to the steering committee, Muire made his position clear. “While Planning Staff supports the committee decision to review the appendix, we do not support providing it for public or planning board consideration because (in our opinion) many of the recommendations it contains will not receive favorable consideration due to financial implications or implied regulations.”Many of the issues now in the appendix have dominated discussions at most of the land-use meetings. Muire said maintaining the appendix for the remainder of the process is counterproductive.
Among the financial implications, some steering committee members have spoken out in favor of an adequate public facilities fee for residential developers ó a per-lot fee to offset increased costs for schools. Among the suggestions has been a $15,000-per-lot fee.
Muire said the staff will present the appendix to the Board of Commissioners for information only and it will not be considered for acceptance or adoption.
He advised the steering committee against putting non-land-use provisions back in the main plan. Muire said any recommendation moved to the main plan “should consist of substantive land use recommendations for development proposals, rezonings and conditional use permits that would be of immediate benefit to the planning process.”
Muire went on to say that any consideration of the recommendations in the appendix should be considered in the future through a process similar to the land-use planning, providing full disclosure and evaluation by the public.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@ salisburypost.com.

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