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China Grove planning board to review land use plan draft

CHINA GROVE — China Grove will soon get a look at the town’s first-ever land use plan, which places maintaining the municipality’s downtown as the first objective.

The China Grove Planning Board is expected to review the plan during its regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 8, offering input before a final draft is presented later. The town contracted with Centralina Council of Governments in Spring 2014 and finished a draft of the plan this month.

The five objectives of China Grove’s land use plan are: maintaining downtown as the community’s focal point, providing safe and convenient mobility for China Grove residents of all ages and abilities, ensuring a variety of housing options are available, providing adequate recreational facilities and promoting China Grove as an attractive place to live.

The town’s planning board chairman, David Morton, said he doesn’t see any one particular objective as being most important, but said the plan is long overdue.

“This is a beginning, and the plan will evolve over time,” Morton said. “Any good land-use plan is not stagnant; it’s evolutionary.”

In talking about the plan, Morton focused on developing and defining China Grove’s business districts. He used a recent zoning decision by the planning board as an example. Last month, the planning board considered an application to rezone a house on Main Street from residential to central business.

The board ultimately suggested that the China Grove town council deny the zoning request, using the location of the house as its reasoning.

“One of the things that we are very fortunate to have in China Grove is a very compact, very intact business district,” Morton said. “If you let that sort of spread out, you degrade that nucleus and degrade the surrounding residential property.”

The draft future land use plan mentions several strategies to address downtown development, including promoting connectivity to tie surrounding neighborhoods with the downtown core, creating an attractive gateway into the downtown area and ensuring proper maintenance of older neighborhoods.

In the second objective — providing safe and convenient mobility — one of the strategies suggests applying for a pedestrian and bicycle planning grant. The objective that mentions providing a variety of housing options states that a significant majority of the town’s housing properties are classified as single family. Developing  a flood plain off of Patterson Street as a park is mentioned in the fourth objective, and reinvigorating the China Grove Board of Trade is mentioned as a way to promote the town as an attractive place to live and do business.

The draft land use plan also includes multiple pages of demographics about the town, including:

• China Grove’s total population, as of the 2010 census, was 3,563.

• Nearly 70 percent of the town’s population is in the labor force.

• The largest portion of China Grove residents who are employed work in manufacturing and the second largest portion of residents work in a category that’s classified as “educational services, health care and social assistance.”

• The median household income in China Grove is $37,982 per year, which is more than $3,000 less than Rowan county’s median income.

• The largest portion of the housing units in China Grove were built from 1950 to 1959. Less than a percentage point behind, the second largest portion of housing structures in the town were built between 1990 and 1999. A majority of houses in China Grove are owner-occupied.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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