Land use plan moves on to planning board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Mount Ulla farmer James Rollans mounted a last-ditch effort Monday night to keep residential and commercial development out of western Rowan County.
Rollans offered a series of rewrites to the land-use study as the West Rowan Land Use Steering Committee prepared for the final vote after nearly a year of work.
He contended that sections of the plan dealing with residential and commercial development in farming areas are delusional. “We have to make a choice, we can’t have it both ways,” he said.
“We can’t have a commercial node in the corner of a soybean field,” Rollans said.
He proposed deleting whole sections that allow for commercial development at major intersections รณ commercial nodes. He also called for discouraging residential development everywhere except near municipalities.
Rollans repeatedly cited the continuing loss of farmland and the need to preserve it.
“Is somebody taking their land?” Melanie Earle asked. “Farmers are selling their land. Farmers are not preserving their land.”
All of Rollans’ proposals were defeated. The closest vote came on the proposal to push residential development toward municipalities along U.S. 29 and U.S. 70. Rollans got support from committee members Ben Knox, Artie Watson and Eric Pence.
Earle, Richard Shaver, Steve Poteat, Jeff Morris and Chairman Chris Cohen combined to defeat the proposal.
The committee, appointed by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners in May 2007, completed its work by unanimously approving the final draft study with a few minor revisions.
The study will now go to the Rowan County Planning Board for consideration at its Aug. 25 meeting.
Some committee members appeared worried that the Planning Board might make changes in the draft before it gets to county commissioners.
Cohen asked if there is a way the steering committee plan could go to the commissioners without changes from the Planning Board.
Rollans also expressed concern that the Planning Board might make substantial changes.
Some members noted that there are several Realtors on the Planning Board.
“There’s never been any guarantee what you did would be approved,” County Planning Director Ed Muire responded. “You’ve done your work; give it to the Planning Board.”
Cohen also questioned Muire on whether the committee’s work will be used as guidelines for eastern Rowan.
“Nobody here can answer that,” Muire responded.
The committee agreed for Cohen to ask the Planning Board for time to make a presentation with various committee members explaining different sections of the plan.
The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. on Aug. 25 in the Cohen Administration Building, 130 W. Innes St.