Kannapolis City Council questions developer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Hugh Fisher
For the Salisbury PostKANNAPOLIS ó At Monday night’s meeting, the Kannapolis City Council asked tough questions of the company that plans to develop a retail and residential complex off Concord Lake Road.
Piedmont Commercial Investments plans to build 288 “high-end” apartments and 58 townhomes, along with retail stores, on the 48.7-acre site, which was recently rezoned for such so-called “Planned Unit Development.”
But developers’ plans to seek an extension of Dakota Street to provide access from the Royal Oaks neighborhood has sparked an outcry from residents.
The council met with residents last month to discuss their concerns, and Jason Oesterreich of Piedmont Commercial Investments made his company’s case to council members on Monday.
“We are looking to do only high-end residential apartments and townhomes,” Oesterreich said, adding that building materials slated for use ó brick and heart of pine, but no vinyl ó reflected the class of development planned for the site.
But Oesterreich was firm in his conviction that such a luxurious development would not be possible without the connection through Dakota Street.
He said grocery stores that would be potential anchor tenants for the retail development would want to know that residents living behind the development could access the retail center without having to make a loop up Cannon Boulevard to Centergrove Road and Concord Lake Road.
“A grocery store would not accept those limitations of its ability to get those customers in the door,” Oesterreich said.
But council members said the plan to extend Dakota Street would create more traffic problems.
And Oesterreich’s news that Piedmont Commercial Investments would contribute to the cost of a traffic signal at Dakota Street and Cannon Boulevard did little to calm them.
Councilman Darrell Hinnant pointed to the traffic study commissioned by developers as proof of his concerns.
“That (study) seems to say that the traffic will double on that road, and, as a result, it means that this road is going to have to be improved, widened or whatever needs to be done,” Hinnant said. “Unless we are willing to do a lot of upgrading to Dakota, it seems to me that this is a poor plan to connect that type of structure to the end of a little narrow street.”
Oesterreich said plans for improvements to Dakota Street, including sidewalks, were already being discussed by the city’s Public Works Department.
Councilman Richard Anderson said he had heard concerns from Royal Oaks residents about increased traffic due to motorists cutting through their neighborhood.
“They’re not against your project, as I understand … but they do have opposition to that road going through there for that particular reason,” Anderson said.
The council took no action on the matter.
The council also:
– Toured the Kannapolis Police Department’s new mobile command post, recently acquired and first used on Sunday during the department’s Task Force 21 training exercise at the North Carolina Research Campus.
Council members also heard a presentation from Capt. Ralph Adams about the need for a new crime scene investigation vehicle to accommodate increased equipment and provide additional safety to officers on duty.
– Heard a presentation from Human Resources Director Tina Cline and consultant John Maxwell of Springsted, Inc. regarding a plan to review city workers’ salaries in an attempt to remain competitive.
– Voted unanimously to defer until the next meeting consideration of an ordinance to punish false burglar alarm calls with fines, pending consideration of a section in the ordinance which would require alarm systems to be registered with the city and a registration fee to be paid by property owners.
– Set public hearings for May 26 in the matter of two petitions for voluntary annexation, one for a .913 acre plot on N.C. 3 at Davidson Road, the other for a 6.85 acre plot on N.C. 73.Contact Hugh Fisher at 704-797-4245 or hfisher@salisburypost.com.