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Kannapolis denies controversial rezoning

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — A request to rezone an acre of land on Winecoff School Road was denied after lengthy discussion at Monday’s Kannapolis City Council meeting failed to reveal exactly what the applicant planned to do with the parcel.
Last month, the Kannapolis Planning and Zoning Commission denied a change in zoning for about one acre of land located adjacent to houses in the 500 block of Winecoff School Road.
The vote was 4-to-2 to deny the bid. Without a supermajority vote, such a case is automatically sent to the City Council for a final decision.
The parcel currently doesn’t have a street address. Aerial photos show a vacant grass lot surrounded by homes.
But some adjoining parcels have business zoning, even those currently used as residences.
Planning Director Ben Warren said the property, currently owned by F&M Bank, is under contract.
The potential buyer, Premier Holding Co., requested straight rezoning to B-1, Neighborhood Commercial/ Office from residential.
Under the straight rezoning process, the applicant doesn’t have to state what he or she will do with the land if it’s rezoned.
And neither Joe Strickland, representative of Premier Holding, nor broker Jack Thomas would disclose their plans.
Instead, there were references to “a national franchise” and some general details about how many people, and how much revenue, they hoped the business would generate.
“It is our intention to build a 9,000-square-foot building on this property,” Strickland said.
He said the proposed business would employ two full-time and two part-time employees and would be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
He also said that local residents would be able to have “their daily essential needs” met there.
Thomas said that his client wasn’t planning to build a “service station” or a “beer joint.”
And he said the time had come for a change in the zoning and in the surrounding neighborhood.
But neither man would say even the general type of business.
“There’s several of them in the area … My negotiations are still ongoing,” Strickland said.
“I would hate to give information that might come back to hinder me in my future negotiations.”
Warren said that the city’s land use plan shows an intention to rezone the area for business.
But five residents of the neighborhood asked the council not to allow the new zoning.
Michelle Riley, of 515 Winecoff School Road, lives adjacent to the property. “Our driveway is on that side of the lot,” she said.
If a business was built there, she said, her kids be able to go outside and play as they do now.
“We understand the planning, we understand that is where the area wants to go. We don’t think this is the time,” Riley said.
Chris Spears, of 503 Winecoff School Road, said he spoke on behalf of several owners.
“I plan on living there for as long as the good Lord lets me live,” Spears said. “I would ask that you not approve this because this is a family neighborhood.”
Since the Food Lion shopping center nearby was constructed, Spears said, crime and traffic have increased.
“And I can’t tell you how many wrecks I’ve seen in the ditch in front of that property,” Spears said, referring to the parcel up for rezoning.
Other residents echoed those concerns, also mentioning empty parcels of land in the Food Lion shopping center and empty businesses further up Winecoff School Road.
“I’ve lived there all my life,” Jared McGuire, of 512 Winecoff School Road, said. “It’s always been residential.”
The vote to deny the zoning change was unanimous.
“I don’t deny the fact that it’s appropriate that this area should be eventually rezoned,” Councilman Gene McCombs said. “To do it in small pieces is what bothers me.”
Councilman Ken Geathers said he couldn’t support the request because it was unclear what business would actually go there.
“We can’t put that on those folks when we don’t know what it is,” Geathers said, referring to neighborhood residents.
Strickland left immediately after the vote and could not be reached for comment following the meeting.


In other business
In other business before the Kannapolis City Council:
• The council unanimously approved a voluntary annexation request for approximately 97 acres on N.C. 73.
The parcel is the site planned for a private Catholic high school to be operated by the Diocese of Charlotte.
Action on the petition had been tabled since last month due to the need to investigate a gravel mining permit formerly held for the site.
Planning Director Ben Warren said that inquiry was on its way to a conclusion.
• Members unanimously approved the 2011-12 Community Development Block Grant action plan.
The plan allocates federal funds to revitalize low-income neighborhoods.
• The council unanimously voted to adopt a tax collection program for the city, taking over that task from Rowan and Cabarrus counties.
Collecting its own taxes will save the city about $88,000 a year.
• Council members voted unanimously to reappoint Darrell Hinnant to the board of directors of the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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