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Feather: Annexation of county land will help both Rowan, Granite Quarry

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen approved an annexation ordinance Monday night that will bring more than 88 acres of county-owned property off Heilig Road into the town.
Mayor Bill Feather hailed the annexation as a sign of cooperation between the county and municipality and said he thinks the move could end up growing the tax base of both entities.
The city of Salisbury also could benefit down the road by having additional water users for its utility, Feather said.
Alderman Arin Wilhelm thanked Feather on behalf of the board for all of his work on the non-contiguous, voluntary annexation of property next to the existing Gildan site.
Estimates of the land involved have ranged from 88.7 to 92 acres, based on various metes and bounds descriptions.
Two weeks ago, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners agreed to a voluntary annexation after receiving a request presented by Feather on the town’s behalf.
Feather said the town would aggressively try to spur development of the county property and adjacent land through marketing and infrastructure.
With a road and water line, the industrial property becomes accessible, and it also makes a proposed 450-lot PUD (planned urban development) that’s never gotten off the ground more viable.
The town board’s action Monday night makes the voluntary annexation effective June 30.
In other business Monday, aldermen set 5 p.m. June 19 at the date for a 2014-15 budget hearing, Town Manager Dan Peters has proposed a roughly $1.9 million budget that would require a 2 cents per $100 valuation property tax increase.
The current tax rate is 40 cents per $100 valuation.
Feather has asked Peters to tweak the numbers to eliminate a proposed tax of $5 per vehicle. That new tax would have generated $8,500, if levied on an estimated 1,700 vehicles in town.
In another matter, Feather reported on a May 20 meeting in which members of the Granite Quarry Community Development Club aired their concerns about Grateful Heart Ministries, led by Pastor Johnny Ray Morgan.
The meeting was held at Town Hall and facilitated by Feather. Grateful Heart Ministries is located at the old Shuford School off Dunn’s Mountain Road.
Feather said the issues discussed included whether it was a licensed concern, zoning, effects on property values, clothing hanging on a fence, safety and a request that a smoking area be moved to an opposite side of the property away from the street.
“It was a good turnout,” Feather said, describing the discussion as civil and the meeting as a chance to have issues addressed.
Alderwoman Mary S. Ponds said she knows that the laundry concern and the relocation of the smoking area were taken care of almost immediately after the meeting.
For the second time in as many town board meetings, Rowan County Clerk of Court Jeff Barger swore in a new city clerk for the town. This time it was Barbie Blackwell.
In May, the board had approved the hiring of Kim Rabon as a new city clerk, and she was sworn in by Barger that same night. But Rabon, who was supposed to start May 12, ended up passing on the job, leading to Blackwell’s hire.
The town will have its annual Fish for Fun Day this Saturday at Granite Lake Park. Sarah Cross reported the lake will be stocked this week and 40 people already have signed up to participate.

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