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Kannapolis council backs church expansion

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis City Council discussed three agenda items in its new meeting format on Monday evening at the Public Works Operations Center.

The first meeting of the month will take place at the center, 1401 Bethpage Road, with no action taken. The second meeting of the month will take place at the Kannapolis Train Station, 201 S. Main St., and will be the business meeting.

Monday’s agenda included conversations on a proposed addition to First Baptist Church, Downtown Guiding Principles, and a new initiative to address substandard housing.

City Council first tackled a First Baptist request to add a small addition to the northwest corner of its building. The addition would serve as a new entrance to the church, removing the danger of unloading guests at the First Street entrance, often a dangerous proposition, according to Mike Ward, a local engineer who represented the church.

The .09-acre sliver of property, City Manager Mike Legg said, has no direct benefit to the city. “It never has. I see no reason to keep it.”

The parking problem arose when Lake Shore drive was closed to make way for Veterans Park, and the church lost its handicapped parking, Ward said. “It has been a mess — and continues to be that way.”

He said that traffic on First Street, which runs to the left side of the church, “is a bear. We’ve almost had people run over. We need to get off that street.”

The church is proposing building a one-story, 3,300-square foot addition at the rear of the church, which would also include a brick screen wall and gate to cover utilities at its First Street corner.

“It’s good for us, it’s good for the park, and it’s good for the city,” Ward said. “It needs to happen.”

“That church lends so much to the park,” Councilman Tom Kincaid said. “It’s just good business to do this project.”

“This needs to happen,” echoed Councilman Ryan Dayvault. “I can’t imagine the church doing anything to the property that’s going to hurt the park or the church itself.”

Secondly, council had an hour-long discussion with its partners at Development Finance Initiative, the group helping develop Downtown Kannapolis. Michelle Audette-Bauman of DFI guided council through a presentation on five guiding principles for development of a master plan: density, diversity, anchors, history, and value, which ties together the first four ideas.

Council members last week traveled to Durham to take a look at its redevelopment program, which has taken place over an area similar in acreage to Downtown Kannapolis.

In Durham, Kincaid said, council saw the historic flavor of the city preserved, alongside progressive new growth.

Viewing a historic photo of downtown Kannapolis, Dayvault noted that the Williamsburg style was something that came into being later in the city’s history.

“We had plenty of diversity (in architecture) at one point,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing to put some of that back.”

Council also discussed the game-changer addition of a ball park, which Durham does have.

“It’s not about baseball,” Hinnant said council learned on its outing. “It’s about family entertainment.”

The Durham Bulls park has an office building — with high occupancy — built adjacent to the outfield.

“These developers have created a space where people want to be,” said Michael Lemanski of DFI.

By consensus, council agreed on all five principles.

A 3-D model of the downtown will be available sometime in October, Audette-Bauman noted.

“We have 500,000 square feet,” Hinnant said. “I think we can find a place for a model.”

Councilman Roger Haas noted the importance of such a master plan.

“If we don’t stick to the plan,” he said, “we’re sunk.”

Council looked at a new initiative to address substandard housing. After taking a snapshot of houses that have not had water for the last 18 months, the city sampled 31 of those properties, and found a dozen that are substandard.

Hinnant said there was HUD funding available to conduct a comprehensive inventory of homes in Kannapolis, and will meet with HUD representatives to pursue the matter.

“It will be a huge project,” said Annette Privette Keller, the city’s communications director.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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