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Crowd turns out to oppose rezoning request on Statesville Boulevard

SALISBURY — Eight people spoke Tuesday against a rezoning request for two lots on Statesville Boulevard, including family members of the man seeking the zoning change.
A crowd attended the Salisbury Planning Board meeting in opposition to the rezoning, and Rosemary Wood presented a petition that she said contained the signatures of 27 residents asking the city to deny the request.
The property owner wants the city to allow commercial development at the corner of Statesville Boulevard and Frances Street, near Majolica Road, which is currently zoned residential.
“It would be heartbreaking to me,” said a neighbor who said she has lived in Hendrix Estate for 50 years and was told the development would always remain single-family homes.
Donald Poteat, who said he grew up in the development but now lives in Charlotte, asked the city to rezone about two-and-a-half acres in Hendrix Estate. Poteat said he wants to upzone the property from general residential to residential mixed use — which allows homes and apartments as well as commercial and institutional buildings — to improve his chances of selling the land.
But many in Hendrix Estate and some of Poteat’s relatives said allowing commercial development on the corner would harm their close-knit neighborhood, where kids run from house to house and people can visit in the middle of the street for 10 minutes before they are interrupted by a vehicle.
After a lengthy courtesy hearing and discussion, the Planning Board voted 7-2 to table the issue and send it to a committee, which will hold a public meeting at 7 a.m. Nov. 19 at the city’s One Stop Shop for Development, 132 N. Main St.
City staff recommended that Planning Board approve the request but acknowledged that the rezoning would only partially meet guidelines in the city’s Vision 2020 comprehensive plan.
Preston Mitchell, the city’s Planning and Development Services manager, called it a “tough case” and said there are still more than 30 homes on Statesville Boulevard that are occupied and in good condition.
“You have residential zoning in place, and they are asking to take that step into the commercial realm,” Mitchell said.
The board must decide if Statesville Boulevard is still suitable for residential living and whether to introduce commercial development amid single-family homes, he said.
Harry Lippard, who lives at the corner of Statesville Boulevard and Majolica Road, said Poteat lives out of town and “sought out and bought the property” knowing he would seek rezoning.
Poteat said he has been on the property weekly for 10 years, visiting his mother who recently passed away and mowing and maintaining the vacant lots.
“These people are my neighbors,” he said of the opposition.
Poteat said his mother and her five siblings owned the land, and he talked his mother into buying them out. He now is the sole owner and wants to sell the land to avoid paying taxes on it for years to come.
“I would only sell to something I think would be nice,” Poteat said. “… I don’t want Hendrix development to have a bad name from anything I did.”
Thomas Wood said Poteat has worked hard to improve the parcels and maintain them, but he’s concerned that concrete and asphalt from a commercial development would cause more flooding problems for nearby homeowners.
Carlos Poteat, who is related to Donald Poteat, said he helped his uncle build dozens of homes in Hendrix Estate years ago.
“Uncle Lester would say he had this fixed to where it could never be changed to commercial,” Poteat said. “… Forever has not got here yet.”
Donald Poteat acknowledged that the deed to his property includes covenants that allow only single-family homes but said an attorney told him there may be a way out of the restriction.
Mitchell warned Planning Board members not to consider covenants and restrictions written into deeds. The city can’t enforce such covenants, and if they are broken, neighbors would have to turn to the courts, not the city, Mitchell said.
An adjacent lot was rezoned to residential mixed use around 2008.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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