Will land use plan make commissioners’ agenda?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Discussion of a land use plan for Western Rowan may not be on the agenda for the upcoming county commissioners’ retreat.
Vice Chairman Jon Barber has it near the top of the items he wants to focus on during the three-day retreat Feb. 25-27 at the Tadlock South Rowan Library.
But Chairman Carl Ford said this week he’s willing to discuss the land use plan if it’s separate from farmland preservation.
A committee appointed by commissioners, the West Rowan Land Use Steering Committee, spent more than a year working on a plan that has drawn heavy criticism from the Rowan County Planning Board for its anti-development and farm-friendly approach.
Commissioners tried to come up with a compromise version, but failed, leaving it to the new board.
Ford, who played a key role in getting the Planning Board version approved, said Monday night that if commissioners discuss land use at the retreat, farmland preservation will be a separate topic. Ford added that while they go hand in hand, they can be separated.
Commissioners listed topics they want to discuss at the retreat, but quickly acknowledged they have far too much on the plate.
“There’s no way in two days,” said Barber.
Commissioners have tentatively agreed to a request from Raymond Coltrain to set the first day aside to hear 10-minute presentations from all department heads on their program needs.
Commissioner Chad Mitchell previously noted that commissioners dropped the practice of hearing from department directors after the lists of needs and wants proved overwhelming.
Department directors currently submit their budget needs to the county manager and all the information is presented to commissioners in a budget workbook that is typically 8-10 inches thick.
After some discussion, commissioners agreed to ask Carolyn Athey, clerk to the board, to put all the topics on a ballot and e-mail it to commissioners. They will do a straw vote with the top topics getting on the retreat agenda.
Ford suggested some other topics can be handled at the regular board meetings.
As chairman, Ford opted not to suggest any topics.
Here’s a summary of the topics each commissioner wants on the agenda retreat.
– Mitchell
ó detention facility operations;
ó Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium status on lease and ownership;
ó school central office;
ó I-85 bridge;
ó emergency communications equipment for volunteer fire departments;
ó hear a report from the Economic Development Commission regarding marketing;
Mitchell also stressed he wants the board to come up with “a plan to fund any items that we intend to pursue.”
– Barber
ó efficiency committee expectations;
ó revaluation options;
ó land use plan;
ó emergency services telecommunications including and beyond fire departments;
ó future direction of Rowan-Salisbury Schools with potential impact of grants received on county’s current expense budget.
ó report from legislative delegation on state deficit and potential impact on local budgets;
ó process of appointing citizens to the various boards;
– Tina Hall
óadditional plans to reduce spending to deal with the current economy. “How can we maintain essential services and preserve county jobs?”
ó setting priority for building projects, including identifying projects that can be delayed;
ó evaluate and adjust expenditures that promote job opportunities for Rowan County residents;
ó review and evaluate how county funds are spent for education and if the money is producing the desired results.
ó are there steps the county can take to improve getting its fair share of state and federal monies?
– Raymond Coltrain
ó any issue raised by department directors that need attention;
ó hear a report on the county’s borrowing capabilities and loan repayment capabilities;
ó other possible revenue sources to support county programs;
ó development of an advisory committee to assist with investment of excess county funds;
ó income potential of county airport;
ó more interaction with municipalities and develop a team approach to issues affecting citizens.