Kannapolis gives unanimous approval for LandTrust changes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — A unanimous vote of the Kannapolis City Council on Monday should soon allow LandTrust for Central North Carolina to sell its last remaining parcel of Second Creek land.
Changes to the covenants with the LandTrust were approved by all seven members after a brief discussion.
Orignally designed to form part of a state-owned game land, the 193-acre parcel in Rowan County off Upright Road is subject to covenants that prohibit industrial uses and large-scale development, while limiting other uses.
But with state funds lagging, the LandTrust hopes to sell this final parcel to a buyer in Mooresville, Executive Director Jason Walser said.
“He’s going to continue to keep the agricultural lands in production and lease them for local farmers,” Walser said.
The prospective buyer “is an avid hunter,” he said.
“Basically, for the average neighbor driving by, it will look and feel the same way.”
But he, like other buyers of Second Creek parcels, wanted allowance for home sites so the property could eventually be sold, if needed.
Legg said the restrictions are similar to those on the Second Creek land Kannapolis sold to Ron Horton last year for $1.7 million, and to Smith-Moore, LLC in 2008 for $1 million.
Aside from conserving land, protecting water quality is a chief concern in providing these restrictions.
Councilman Ryan Dayvault said that maintaining water quality was important, and that he felt this outcome was still a good one.
“I would still like to have seen it as a conservation game area, as was agreed on in 2008,” Dayvault said.
Still, he said the decision would keep that part of Rowan County near Kannapolis “as natural as possible,” and avoid large-scale development of tract homes as has occurred in other parts of the county.
Going forward, the burden for enforcement will fall to the city.
Legg said the city will have to approve the placement of any culverts on the land, as well as any bridges.
The new rules also allow the driveway to be paved, but limit it to 500 feet in length.
Asked after the meeting whether he felt the lack of objections was a vote of confidence, Walser said he’s careful not to read too much into those sorts of things.
But, Walser said, the LandTrust has had “remarkable support from the community.”
“I do feel for the most part, even though it’s not what we originally planned, it’s still a victory,” Walser said.
If the proposed sale goes through, over 1,500 acres of the Second Creek land will be in private hands with similar restrictive covenants in place.
And the LandTrust will have divested itself of its remaining acreage, Walser said.
About 207 acres adjoining on the other side of Upright Road were sold to a private buyer last year, Walser said.
A further 1,100 acres were sold to the state of North Carolina, and did become a game land as originally planned.
The final piece of the land that Cannon Mills had once envisioned as a reservoir for the city is still under contract, Legg said.
Alan Hoffner put down a deposit on a 191-acre tract north of N.C. 150, off Kerr Mill Road, in 2009.
Legg told the Post that the sale was never finalized, but that the land is still technically under contract.
“We haven’t pushed the issue,” Legg said, because there is no immediate need to sell the land.
With a balanced budget, Kannapolis has been using the proceeds from sales of its Second Creek land as a cushion for its fund balance, the savings a city keeps in reserve.
Although Legg said there are no other bids on the land, “we do have some other interest” in the property.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.