Land-use panel members call for impact fees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
More members of the county’s Land Use Steering Committee are calling for residential subdivision developers to pay impact fees to offset the costs of schools and emergency services.
The committee, appointed by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, is working to develop a plan for the area west of Interstate 85.
Wendy Wilson and Jimbo Shaver spoke out Monday night in favor of the adequate public facilities fees.
Shaver suggested a $12,000- to $14,000-per-lot fee to prevent county residents from facing higher taxes to provide the expanded services required by new residential developments. Other members have previously called for the county to adopt the fees.
Five members of the committee got a chance to weigh in on the 20-plus page draft plan in the meeting continued from last week.
Steve Poteat, the strongest supporter of property rights on the committee, described the draft plan as good, adding that he favors farmland preservation without coercion and without use of county tax dollars.
Some members, including Chris Cohen, co-chairman, said the current economic downturn will slow down developers and give the county time to develop a plan and procedures to avoid having farmland gobbled up.
Cohen took issue with a proposal to have a school official involved in a subdivision review process.
“It seems like the school board is fearful of realignment of districts,” said Cohen, adding that the county spent $5 million to expand North Rowan High School and the school board won’t assign the students. “We’ve wasted $5 million.”
As members reviewed the plan, several spoke in support of farmland preservation, but differed on whether local tax money should be used.
Shaver talked about the beauty of open spaces and farms, adding that he fully supports farmland preservation, “but not with Rowan County tax dollars.”
Cohen agreed with Shaver, saying there is already too much demand on county tax dollars.
Cohen also focused on the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and its potential impact on the county.
“Landis and China Grove are the next Cornelius and Davidson,” said Cohen, adding that the growth explosion may be 10 years away.
Cohen went on to commend the committee, the county planning staff and Benchmark of Kannapolis for their work thus far on the plan.
But Cohen cautioned that they may be getting a bit off base.
Ed Muire, the county’s planning director, added his praise for the panel’s work, but advised that the draft plan will be reshaped before it goes to the public and on to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners.
Muire said the recommendations will be broken up into a general development plan, while other issues, such as those with tax implications, will be combined in a strategic policy section.
“There are a lot of good ideas here,” Muire said. He went on to remind the committee of the commissioners’ desire to have a plan that provides guidance.
Muire urged members to provide written input to his staff within the next few days.
A revamped draft copy will be provided to members prior to the next meeting, May 12 at 7 p.m. in the Cohen Administration Building at 130 W. Innes St.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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