Change is the missing ingredient for growth

Published 12:56 am Thursday, May 7, 2015

Editor’s note: The writer is responding to a column about a tract of land he and his wife own on Jake Alexander Boulevard.

By John Leatherman

Special to the Post

I am responding to David Post’s article, “Let’s find the right recipe for a second Zaxby’s,” that appeared in last Sunday’s Salisbury Post. 

First, I’m glad you recognize that Zaxby’s has a lot to offer our community. We agree with you. However, there are several misconceptions in your article that need clarification. 

1. The formerly proposed Zaxby’s site is not in the Pinnacle Office Park. Pinnacle has restrictions and is architecturally the same; same green roofs, white columns, windows.

2. In the development to the north where the Zaxby’s was formerly proposed, there are no restrictions. The buildings are not similar. The property was rezoned in 1983 — 32 years ago. 

3. You stated that because it was zoned Residential Mixed Use, I should abide by the rules. The road has changed. It now has 36,000 cars on it daily. In 1983, the road was Woodleaf Road and dead ended at South Main Street. It is not challenging the city’s decision on the zoning in 1983, but to acknowledge the vast changes since that time. The changes are numerous, for example: McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Katana’s, over 300 apartments.  Zoning should reflect the changes that are current.

4. The formerly proposed Zaxby’s did not need the use of the private drive that connects the properties at the rear of the development. The narrowest part of the drive is 21.5 feet wide. That is wider than Gold Hill Drive. Zaxby’s customers would enter and exit via Jake Alexander Boulevard at the stoplight.

5. Zaxby’s came to me because they identified this vacant lot as where they would like to have another restaurant. Gina Dickins owns restaurants in Salisbury, Albemarle, Huntersville and Concord. Regretfully, she is no longer looking in Salisbury but is moving on to Hickory.

No, Mr. Post, zoning is not a sport and rules are not made to be broken.  However, when the environment changes, the rules need to be adapted to promote economic development. Just look at the development from Pizza Hut to the vacant lot. I believe the public knows the answer. This is one of the most viable and desirable business locations in Salisbury.

There are too many other factors to discuss in one article. Some are: connectivity, limited curb cuts, mixed use, walkability, infill,  50-60 jobs, property taxes, sales taxes.

The reported safety issue in Pinnacle regarding ambulances has been resolved by Rowan County EMS. The problem had never been reported to EMS. Also, the incident photographed by Dr. Sam Roy occurred approximately 400 feet from the vacant lot. A city block averages 400 feet. Whatever safety issue there is in Pinnacle, it is not related to the vacant lot. The doctors built there knowing the access to the property. There are currently two access points. An ambulance is allowed to travel where necessary in an emergency. If another access is needed, I would be glad to discuss the potential of allowing an access through property Joan and I own.

It takes two halves to make a whole. The downtown half with the central business district and historic properties needs the other half which is the  perimeter of the city to make a whole city.

The city planner recommended the rezoning with conditions. Zaxby’s agreed to all the conditions. The Technical Review Committee — which includes water, sewer, emergency services and traffic — stated that the plan met all requirements.

Change scares some people. When a few people decide to use fear to get what they want, Salisbury loses. Jobs and tax base require change. 

Leatherman lives in Rowan.