Rezoning request for Abbey finally approved

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — The rezoning request to allow a wedding venue to be operated at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church property on Fulton Street has been approved.

Councilman Kenny Hardin first made a motion for denial, which failed. Councilman Brian Miller then made a motion for approval, which passed with a 3-2 vote. Hardin and Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell voted against the motion.

The council voted 3-2 for the rezoning request at a previous meeting, but since the motion did not receive four votes of support, the item had to come back for a second reading. It could then be approved with just three votes of support.

The property at 128 N. Fulton St. will be rezoned from an urban residential district to a residential mixed-use district with a conditional district overlay to convert the 1.5 acres into a wedding venue called The Abbey.

Lori and Michael Dienfenbach requested the change. Lori Dienfenbach has said she will work with The Refuge, the church that currently rents a building on the property, to move them off the property.

Along with furnishing the sanctuary and other buildings on the property to serve wedding venue functions, there will also be a support services building at The Abbey. A maximum of 1,800 square feet of retail that relates to wedding functions will be able to move into the building.

The proposed rooftop terrace was removed from the plans, but the Dienfenbachs can come back before the city in the future to request it.

Lori Dienfenbach has said that the Salisbury-Rowan Convention and Visitors Bureau confirmed that The Abbey could have an impact of $1.8 million on the local economy.

“Today you voted to infringe and not protect this historic district,” neighbor Tom Wolpert said during public comment.

He said the neighborhood will have to deal with visitors taking up on-street parking and the noise Abbey visitors may bring.

Karen Hobson, executive director of the Historic Salisbury Foundation, said during public comment that even though she encourages adaptive reuse and economic development, the neighborhood’s needs were not considered.

“In this particular instance, we believe that the city has approved a project absent of restrictions that would protect the adjacent Ellis Street Graded School District,” she said.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the consent agenda, which included:
    • Amending the fiscal year 2015-2016 financial plan for the Worker’s Compensation Fund. The agenda said it was for the Employee Health Care Fund but Mayor Alexander announced the change.
    • Adopting a $11,200 budget ordinance amendment to this year’s budget to appropriate Parks and Recreation donations.
    • Adopting a $25,885 budget ordinance amendment to this year’s budget to appropriate donations for the All-America City trip. More money was donated since the original agenda was released so the amount was amended.
    • Approving a 2016 Justice Assistance Grant application for $37,749.
    • Approving an AT&T request to put 125 handholes and 16,358 feet of inner duct in the public right-of-way.
    • Setting a public hearing about a $25,000 Industrial Building Revitalization Grant for Southmark Limited III, LLC at 408 Long Meadow Dr.
  • Approved the budget for fiscal year 2016-17.
  • Approved the adoption of an ordinance to amend the Nuisances chapter of the Salisbury City Code. Naturally wooded areas, excluding wetlands, preserves, parks and other such areas, cannot have noxious or invasive undergrowth over 24 inches. Lawns more than 10 inches in height will be declared a nuisance. If the notice is hand-delivered, the property owner will have five days to fix the problem. If the notice is mailed, the property owner will have 10 days. The council will discuss the amendments for the Animals and Fowl chapter of the code at a later date with the opportunity for the public to voice their opinions.
  • Awarded a $131,500 contract to Downtown Salisbury, Inc. for services in the Municipal Service District for the next fiscal year.
  • Moved the request for a $40,000 appropriation to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for a dog park to a later date.
  • Approved the purchase of a property at 218 W. Cemetery St. for $150,000.
  • Heard comments from the public, including citizens addressing violence in the community.

The mayor proclaimed the observance of June 26, 2016 for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.