Foster Road community objects to school placement

Published 12:11 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

SALISBURY — Residents of Foster Road have voiced their objection to tentative plans for a school in their community. This morning the Post received a letter of protest from the Foster Road community, which asked the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to “choose a place for the school where it will be welcomed.”

The board on July 18 voted to move forward with acquiring a 40-acre parcel of land on Foster Road as a location for a consolidated elementary school after community members raised safety concerns about original site, at the intersection of N.C. 801 and Godbey Road.

The board will meet today at 1 p.m. in the Wallace Educational Forum to discuss the negotiation of the Foster Road parcel as part of their monthly work session. According to documents attached to the board’s online agenda, the property owner rejected an offer for the specific parcel the board requested. An attorney for the board also reported in a letter that property neighbors were unhappy with the selection.

Monday morning, the community turned in a letter of petition with 133 signatures objecting to the board’s plans. The letter states that they “object strongly to the selection of this site and to the manner in which the school board made the decision.”

Community members cite both the cost of the site — which was both the most expensive upfront of the three properties the board considered and also has an additional annual cost of more than $100,000 per year. The letter also said at the July 18 meeting that “several very significant inaccuracies in the financial analysis were noted, acknowledged by the board and then ignored. These projections should be corrected and communicated to the public.”

The letter also objects that there was no community meeting held before the board considered moving forward with the site, and request that one be held.

Other objections include:

• The proposed site surrounds  a residence.

• The property, and all surrounding property, is zoned as agricultural and residential, which is “intended to protect residences from potential adverse impacts of allowed nonresidential use.” Deed restrictions on the property intended to protect the area from anything “which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance.”

“We declare that the school will be both an annoyance and a nuisance to us,” the letter reads.

• The location of the water and sewer lines that will need to be installed — which may fall on private property.

• The state of the Foster and Hobson roads, which community members said are “narrow tar and gravel secondary roads which do not hold up very well under the traffic presently using them.” The board would have to redo and widen the roads, an extra cost not listed in the projected budget.

“The selection of this site was made in haste, without the transparency owed the affected residents and required by policy and without the fiscal due diligence required by policy,” the petition reads.

The letter asks for the board to revisit the other two proposed sites — the current location of Cleveland Elementary and the Godbey Road parcel — and to hold community meetings, to give “serious consideration to the fiscal, physical and emotional harm caused by selecting the one site that surrounds the home,” and to correct the financial analysis.