Impact fees removed from proposed land-use plan
By Jessie Burchette
Impact fees for residential development have been taken out of a proposed land-use plan for western and southern Rowan.
Committee member Ben Knox suggested taking out the proposed per lot charge, called an adequate public facilities fee. “It’s one of the more controversial things,” Knox said. “Remove it from the plan.” His motion drew unanimous support from the six members of the 11 committee members who attended the session Thursday night.
During a 31/2 hour-session, the committee reviewed the full draft study, making few changes.
James Rollans, a Mount Ulla farmer, repeatedly urged the committee to put in more restrictions against residential and commercial development.
Rollans suggested the best way to prevent urban sprawl is to prohibit residential development in much of western Rowan.
At one point, County Planning Director Ed Muire asked Rollans if he was trying to prevent all residential development. Rollans responded that prohibiting development would be the best way to ensure clean water and air and to protect farmland.
As Rollans continued to push for prohibition on development, Muire warned such a restriction would amount to a “taking” of property, preventing farmers or landowners from selling for development.
Planners said it would devalue the property and be illegal.
Knox, also a farmer, said property value would be increased for someone wanting a 100 acres ó doctors, lawyers or billionaires.
While Knox agreed with Rollans idea, he said he didn’t think it is workable.
On a straw vote, Rollans’ proposal gained no support.
Rollans also pushed unsuccessfully to eliminate business nodes at major intersections. “If people want a loaf of bread, they can go to Mooresville or Salisbury,” said Rollans, suggesting that allowing stores at key intersections would hurt the effort to preserve the rural character of the area.
Rollans did convince the committee to make major changes in a map that divides the area east of I-85 into three areas for residential subdivisions.
Rollans and Richard “Jimbo” Shaver had strenuously objected to changes in the initial map made by planners. They questioned Muire and senior planner Shane Stewart about how the changes were made, hinting at some outside influence.
Both said the changes were made to recognize how development is occurring and to deal with other factors.
Rollans said the most restrictive rules needed to be extended southward to take in the prime farmland along N.C. 150 and southward to the Cabarrus County line.
Planners said there is little difference in the Area 1 and Area 3 recommendations. Both allow subdivisions.
After an extended discussion, the committee voted unanimously to extend Area 1 from the Davie County line to N.C. 152, wiping out most of the Area 3 which encourages conservation subdivision.
The revamped map includes a small area south of N.C. 152 in the Atwell community for conservation subdivision ó increased minimum lot sizes and conservation subdivisions.
Prior to going through the draft study, the committee reviewed survey results from workshops at South and West Rowan High School, as well as online surveys.
Jason Epley, the Benchmark planner guiding the land-use process, noted that many of the 57 surveys filled out online came from the same computers. A total of 47 were generated from six different computers.
The committee opted to give little weight to the online surveys as Epley recommended.
At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Chris Cohen said he is willing to take as much time as needed to get the plan right. He objected to suggestions from county commissioners that the panel needs to get the job done quickly.
Knox and Rollans defended the work of the committee, saying their only agenda is to do the best plan possible.
The committee agreed to meet again on Aug. 11 to review the final plan. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Cohen Administration Building, 130 W. Innes St.