My Turn by Chris Cohen: City shouldn’t fight development

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2015

David Post must be looking through rose-colored, tunnel-vision glasses as he rationalizes the Salisbury Planning Board’s opposition to a Zaxby’s at 400 Jake Alexander Blvd.

The pros and cons on this issue are not in any form of agreement on the Planning Board’s ruling. In fact, the ruling discounts City Planner Preston Mitchell and his staff’s recommendation to approve with conditional district overlay criteria being met.

The Planning Board is charged with delivering decisions that best benefit the taxpayers of Salisbury. The board is to act unbiased and without political preference on all agenda matters and not act on personal opinion.

Post, Carl Repsher and the remaining Planning Board members failed miserably at their task.

Alan Burke and Diane Greene fail to realize the positive impact, potential business, increase in property values and increased tax base for Salisbury and Rowan County.

Since the tract in question is the last developable tract in the complex, Karen Young’s comment about a trend interfering with wise growth holds no merit.

Post’s half-truths are bizarre and far-reaching. The proposed Zaxby’s site is not in the middle of the complex. As Mitchell stated, it is a bookend property controlled by a traffic signal. The Fisher-Harris development is totally separate.

Post’s comparison of zoning to school-grade grouping and Salisbury to Cary and Hilton Head are laughable and simplistic. Salisbury has a high tax rate, not high property values.

On the other hand, John Leatherman has provided opportunities for growth and revenue within Rowan County. Likewise, Rodney Queen realizes the over-bearing restrictions which stunt and hinder new investment from outside (not home-grown) developers within Salisbury’s jurisdiction.

Gina Dickens and Zaxby’s have been good stewards of Salisbury’s quality of life and standards. Ten years ago, she took a chance on Salisbury at a fledgling and unsuccessful site that has now provided the community with tax base, revenue and jobs.

How does Salisbury reward her investment? With snub remarks — do it our way at our location but if it fails it’s your fault.

Dickens has made a business decision based on a tract of land that looks logical to me and most I have talked with on this matter. This site provides easy and safe access for her customer base and could only help surrounding businesses and their client base.

If Planning Board members want growth, stronger tax base and higher property values via development opportunities, quit fighting those endeavors. I suggest you venture out to surrounding counties and see what they’re doing right. It’s not happening in Salisbury.

For sure, it will be hard for county government to provide better schools, infrastructure and job opportunities while our county seat, Salisbury, continues to fight progress in cases like this in the name of a few complainers.

Salisbury — or for that matter, Rowan County — can’t afford to be so selective that we turn our back on any investment, especially one like Zaxby’s that requires no incentive tax rebates.

I do agree with David Post that those in a boat rise with the river; I just don’t want him as a captain of the boat. In this case, Post and Salisbury are standing on the shoreline fishing for only the biggest and best fish in that river.

They will surely fail, and so goes Salisbury.

Chris Y. Cohen is a resident of Rowan County.