County, city in this together

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 17, 2013

Part of Salisbury City Council’s annual retreat put the spotlight on a county government success: changes in the Rowan Building Codes Enforcement Department. The new head of the department, Pete Bogle, is a Rowan native and local architect. His expertise in building design and love for Rowan County are said to be greatly improving builders’ experiences in dealing with the office.
Rowan and Salisbury need more steps forward like that, steps that are friendly toward business while still looking out for the public. The two local governing bodies — the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and Salisbury City Council — could take some lessons from Bogle when it comes to dealing with each other.
Instead of throwing up obstacles and objections when someone presents plans to his office that may not be within code, Bogle says he tries to find a way to work things out.
“This is an opportunity to aid more people,” Bogle said about his department. “Rowan County and Salisbury are very dear to me. I care about what happens here.”
The majority of area residents feel the same way. What’s good for Rowan is good for Salisbury, and vice versa, and people care about what happens to all. The city and county will rise or fall together, so it’s in everyone’s interest that they work together — on the airport, education, business development, you name it. Holding on to grudges helps no one. Resentment, they say, is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
How is it possible to work side by side when the city steps forward to facilitate a project like the central office that the county has turned down? How is it possible when the county asks lawmakers to force de-annexation of the airport?
Good questions. The answer may lie in looking outside Salisbury and Rowan at other communities, ones that have been growing their tax base and attracting new business. Do their city and county boards each operate as if the other does not exist? Probably not. Do they undercut each other’s efforts or chime in and support?
What do you think?

There will always be those county residents who dislike the city and deride it. For a few, it seems to be a form of amusement in their abundant spare time. And some in the city continuously find fault with the county. Naysayers speak loudest and most frequently, but that does not put them in the majority.
Rowan County and Salisbury face huge challenges. This area did not experience the same robust growth as the region or state at the beginning of the century. From 2000 to 2010, the South’s population grew 14.3 percent, and North Carolina grew 18.5 percent; Rowan grew only 6.2 percent. Since then, we may have lost population. When the recession hit, whatever prosperity was overflowing from the Charlotte area and the Triad contracted.
Rowan needs business and growth, including in Salisbury and its other municipalities. Like a building code enforcer working to be business-friendly, county and city would be more productive if they found ways to say “yes” to each other and worked things out. A sense of community and collaboration in today’s fractured world would be a valuable addition to Rowan’s recruitment portfolio.