China Grove looks at future through land use plan draft

Published 12:08 am Friday, May 15, 2015

CHINA GROVE — The town’s planning board on Thursday got its first look at a comprehensive draft of a future land use plan that defines the future of residential, commercial, industrial and other forms of development until 2040.

China Grove’s Land Use Plan presented to the planning board includes months of comments from board members and residents. The plan designates a majority of land adjacent to U.S. 29 as general commercial, the western portion of the town largely as residential and land east of U.S. 29 as a mix between rural residential and industrial.

Without a quorum, the board briefly discussed the plan after receiving a presentation from Centralina Council of Governments representative Michelle Nance.

During the meeting, planning board chairman and local engineer David Morton stressed that the board should ensure the plan is carefully reviewed and implemented rather than sit on a shelf in town hall.

“We need to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up to try to implement some of its measures and keeping it as an active document, even if it’s just a couple of steps per year,” Morton said about the plan.

The plan includes maps of proposed zoning and suggestions for future economic development actions. The goals outlined in the plan included:

• encouraging pedestrian trails and sidewalks to link various areas of town

• exploring regional transportation that would link China Grove to other municipalities

• balancing residential growth

• establishing downtown China Grove as a mixed-use center of commerce and activity

• enhancing the town’s parks

• preserving the town’s natural resources, such as woodland and farmland

• providing a healthy environment for a diverse mx of industry and business uses

Board member Rodney Phillips asked Nance if the town should focus on certain goals first. Nance responded that the town could designate individual goals to different agencies, such as the China Grove Board of Trade.

Phillips also suggested that the land use plan encourages the town to apply for available grants to help with various forms of development such as parks.

A map included in the land use plan sets zoning suggestions for the town and its outlying areas, called extra-territorial jurisdiction. The only portions of the western part of China Grove not zoned for a type of residential use are small pockets of commercial zoning near Main Street. Downtown China Grove is proposed to be zoned Town Center, which is a mix of commercial, office, institutional and residential.

During Thursday’s meeting, the board briefly discussed demographic statistics, which show the number of China Grove residents from 45 to 64 years old as increasing rapidly. All other age groups in the town are declining, according to the land use plan. Morton mentioned encouraging development that would be attractive to all age groups.

Two population projections were also provided for China Grove in the land use plan. One projection puts the population at 5,178 by 2040. Another puts the population at 7,889 by 2040. The lower figure is based on Rowan County’s projected growth and China Grove’s historic proportion of the county population. The higher figure is based on the town’s average yearly growth rate.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.