City Council approves Declaration of Interdependence

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY – The Salisbury City Council adopted a Declaration of Interdependence, but not without some dissension.

Greg Edds, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, presented the document to the council at its Tuesday meeting at City Hall.

He said a group of community leaders, modeled after the Global Vision Leadership Group in Charlotte, had been meeting for about a year to discuss the county’s issues.

The group identified three major areas of focus – economic development and jobs, quality of life and marketing. Under each of those three areas are about nine areas of study.

According to the document, the declaration is “a unique opportunity to partner with surrounding communities to encourage innovation, economic development and entrepreneurship.”

The aim is to unify the core goals and beliefs of the 10 different communities in the county to spur innovation and economic growth.

“We don’t ask you or Spencer or Faith or Granite Quarry or East Spencer to give up their culture or their values,” Edds said. “What we’re saying is we all have core values and they are education, they are economic development, they are building a tax base so that we can provide services for all of our folks in Rowan County.”

Edds said they hope to hold a community forum in February or March that will display nine areas of study and ask those who attend to join at least one study group to come up with solutions.

The first step in the process is bringing the documents before the municipalities for adoption. Edds said China Grove, East Spencer and Granite Quarry adopted the document unanimously.

“This is not going to be government-driven. This needs to be private-sector driven,” Edds said.

Council member Kenny Hardin was the first to give his comments. He said he would not vote for the document because he did not think the county needed a document to show that the communities will work together.

He said he believed the community was tired of attending community forums that had no tangible outcomes.

A portion of the document states that the community will handle controversies “quickly and privately wherever possible,” and Hardin said that sounded like a lack of transparency.

He also said there was a lack of respect on the council that needed to be resolved first.

“I think it’s a great idea, I just don’t see the need or the relevance for it,” he said.

Later in the meeting, Hardin said he did not see any progress being made on bringing trade training to the West End neighborhood, something that was discussed at a capital improvement plan meeting, to make a point about the meetings and forums not yielding real results.

“My thing is, if we’re going to sign this, let’s really put some teeth behind it…,” he said.

Edds mentioned that classes from the Manufacturing Institute were going to be held next in the West End neighborhood.

The other council members were in favor of the document. Council member Brian Miller said it isn’t about the failed attempts at developing solutions from the past, it is about future efforts to solve problems.

“We can’t keep doing what we’ve done in the past if we want to succeed,” he said, adding that the city and county are “being left behind” from the growth the rest of the region is experiencing.

Council member David Post said the basic concept of the document was about working together, which is something simple that the council should support.

Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell said she originally intended to vote against the document, but after a conversation with Edds and more thought she changed her mind.

A positive aspect Blackwell mentioned is that the document would show potential employers that the city and county governments are working together.

“… A tangible and an intentional document that says yes we get along is even more convincing for those potential employers,” she said.

Mayor Karen Alexander said she liked that the document was not about the elected officials, but more about helping the community.

The issue was put to a vote and passed 4 to 1, with Hardin voting against the motion.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the consent agenda, which included:
    • The adoption of a budget ordinance amendment to the fiscal year 2016-2017 budget to appropriate $6,000 in Justice Operations/Secret Service funds. The Salisbury Police Department received the funds to buy equipment and training for criminal investigations.
    • Approval of a sole-source purchase of $8,758.56 from Segway for the purchase of a Segway x2 SE Patroller. The current Segway has been having mechanical issues and has reached the end of its useful life.
    • Adoption of an ordinance to temporarily close Main Street between Liberty and Bank Streets and the intersection of South Long and East Bank streets for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade.
  • Approved a land development district map amendment for properties bound by Grove Street, Holmes Avenue and Highland Avenue to rezone five properties in the area from residential to residential mixed-use and three properties from hospital to residential mixed-use for a future medical office or clinic development.
  • Approved a land development district map amendment to rezone a property at the 1600 block of Standish Street from residential to residential mixed-use. The request was from the owners of the Zion Hills apartment to construct a new community leasing, laundry and activity center, along with rehabilitating all units.
  • Approved a land development district map amendment to rezone a property at the 1900 block of West Innes Street from corridor mixed-use to institutional campus and remove an existing general development-A overlay. The property owner wanted to rezone the property to allow for its permanent use as a housing facility for Catawba College.
  • Approved a land development district map amendment for various tracts along Town Creek at Vance Avenue and Ryan Street by rezoning three properties from corridor mixed-use to open space and three properties from residential to open space.
  • Reappointed Shelley Harper Palmer to the Community Appearance Commission.
  • Heard public comment. Regarding the Declaration of Interdependence, Dee Dee Wright said she does not think the city has any problems with the other municipalities, it has problems within its own city limits. She agreed with Blackwell and said the biggest problem is a lack of jobs and the council needs to be more creative about bringing jobs to the area.
    Carolyn Logan spoke about the violence in the community. She said she never asks for anything for herself and that she is more worried about the elderly, disabled, children and others.
  • Heard comments from Lane Bailey, city manager. He said he hopes to have possible dates for the council’s retreat this week and it will probably focus on Fibrant and crime and violence. He will also be sending a copy of the annual audit to the council for review before the next meeting.
  • Went into closed session about an economic development matter.

The mayor proclaimed Jan. 16, 2017 as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.