Planning Board denies rezoning for mini-storage warehouses near N.C. 152-Faith Road intersection
By Jessie Burchette
Faced with solid opposition from neighbors, the Rowan County Planning Board has voted to deny a rezoning for mini-storage warehouses near the intersection of N.C. 152 and Faith Road.
Board members were flabbergasted at the outcry against warehouses.
The unanimous vote was a reversal of the board’s last decision on a rezoning for mini-warehouses.
Planning staff recommended the rezoning of a 3- acre parcel at 6020 E. N.C. 152 from rural agricultural (RA) to commercial, business, industrial (CBI). Cecil and Michelle Perry, property owners, specified plans to build mini-warehouses for storage.
The location is near the intersection of Faith Road, N.C. 152 and Organ Church Road, east of Rockwell. The property abuts both N.C. 152 and Faith Road.
The Perrys did not attend the Planning Board session Tuesday night, but a dozen neighbors did.
They cited a litany of potential problems, from meth labs to use of warehouses for guns, contraband and bodies. Much of the information was gained from the Internet.
“We just don’t want it,” said Michael Brodie, one of the neighbors.
“We don’t want this mess,” said Coy Shive, a 40-year resident of the area.
Responding to questions from from board members, residents said they have no problem with the existing commercial businesses in the immediate area, including a propane tank business, a convenience store and a yard statuary business.
Board member Mac Butner repeatedly advised neighbors that rezoning to CBI would open up the area to an array of businesses that could be far more objectionable than storage warehouses.
The neighbors appeared unconcerned about that potential.
At one point, Butner polled the group, trying to find out whether they objected to all business in the neighborhood. They had no problem with the existing businesses, saying they know the people and they are part of the neighborhood.
But they pointed out they don’t know the Perrys and would like the property to remain residential.
Board members questioned planners on why they didn’t recommend a conditional use permit.
Planning Director Ed Muire said planners can’t force people to apply for conditional use, which would limit the potential uses.
Muire went on to point out that from the planning perspective, commercial zoning appeared to be a perfect fit in the area, which already has almost 100 acres of commercial uses. Rockwell Farms is across N.C. 152 from the site.
After the vote to deny the rezoning request and the neighbors had left the meeting, the board and planners launched a search for answers.
Some members favored changing the county’s zoning table to allow storage warehouses in the neighborhood business district, a far more restrictive commercial zone. Others suggested amending the RA district to allow storage warehouses.
Several members, including Chairman Terry Hill, said the Faith Road-N.C. 152 location is perfect for storage warehouses.
Butner said he had made the motion to deny the rezoning in part because of the action by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on the earlier mini-storage issue.
In September, the Planning Board unanimously voted in favor of rezoning a 3-acre tract located in the 2500 block of Sherrills Ford Road from RA to commercial, business, industrial (CBI), but county commissioners later rejected the request, sending it back to planning.
“This county is changing,” said Muire. “We’re at 402 North Main St. We’re not sure what the issues are.”
“Keeping it the way it’s always been is not reality,” said Butner, adding, “We can’t make everybody happy. It’s ridiculous.” He cited the county commissioners’ failure to approve the earlier mini-storage rezoning.
“I’m not concerned how the county commissioners vote,” said board member John Linker. “We need to make the best decision we can. I’m not sure we need to agree on everything.”