Rowan Planning Board to play big role in land-use planning

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

Rowan County Planning Board members will face some heavy lifting in the next two years.

That will happen whether the board stays at its current 11-member status or is shrunk to nine members.

“You guys are going to be so important in the next two years,” said Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, speaking Monday night. He suggested the board will play a major role in some type of land-use planning effort, emphasizing that it won’t be a comprehensive land-use plan.

Chamberlain went on to allay concerns of Planning Board members, including Vice Chairman Joe Teeter.

In a mix-up, commissioners were told Teeter did not want to be reappointed.

Teeter subsequently said he did want to be reappointed.

“Mr. Teeter, there was no effort to do you in,” Chamberlain said to Teeter.

“I never thought there was,” Teeter replied.

Chamberlain said commissioners are taking an in-depth look at all boards, looking to streamline them, and, in some cases, possibly eliminate some.

Commissioner Jim Sides agreed with Chamberlain, but added that the Planning Board is doing an excellent job.

Some Planning Board members made the case to keep the board at 11 members, saying it makes for better functioning by the two standing subcommittees.

Chairman Terry Hill said the committee system needs the five-member subcommittees to function well.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Planning Board member Mac Butner, saying the current Planning Board is doing a good job.

“I’ll give up my red soft chair,” joked Butner, agreeing to take one of the small hard-back chairs that some members use. There are only nine of the big red chairs used by members of the Board of Commissioners and key staffers.

Board member Rick Hudson suggested commissioners assign more work to the Planning Board instead of creating special ad hoc committees.

Hudson suggested the Planning Board could handle some zoning issues, making the final decision and cut some of the workload for commissioners.

“I look forward to the day,” Chamberlain said.

Ed Muire, director of Planning and Development, said the board could be getting a lot more work and responsibility.

Muire said commissioners plan to look at possibly letting the Planning Board decide on conditional use and special use permits.

Now all requests go to the county commissioners for a final decision.

Muire said changes in state law allows the planning board to make the decision.

He pushed for more applications for the Planning Board.

Chamberlain urged board members and the public to find new applicants for the Planning Board, including people who haven’t previously served on any board.

At the outset of the meeting, the board re-elected Hill as chairman and Teeter as vice chairman.

In addition to Sides and Chamberlain, Commissioner Tina Hall also attended the Monday night session.