Kannapolis mayor ‘befuddled’ by opponents of zoning request

Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

Editor’s note: this article has been updated to correct the name of a person who spoke during Monday’s meeting.

By Josh Bergeron


KANNAPOLIS — As the city benefits from Charlotte’s economic growth, it’s naive to think that an intersection near the western city limits will remain undeveloped, Mayor Darrell Hinnant said this week.

After local residents on Monday asked the Kannapolis City Council to give them a say in future development, Hinnant delivered a speech saying he is “befuddled” about what nearby homeowners want to see at the intersection of Kannapolis Parkway and Rogers Lake Road.

“Is it you just want nothing out there at all? Would that make you happy?” Hinnant asked opponents of a zoning request. “I think Mr. (Tom) Kincaid was right a few moments ago. It’s naive to expect that property is not going to be developed over some period of time, and I think that we are working hard to try to help you, but we don’t get much guidance from you. It seems like all you do is oppose everything and are for nothing along the way.”

Hinnant’s comments turned into a back-and-forth with two people in the audience when they tried to respond. A public hearing about the matter had already been closed.

“Are you asking a question or making a statement?” a person in the audience said.

Hinnant answered.

“I’m making a comment, and your comment period is over,” he said. “And so, as a result of that, I’m curious, I’m befuddled by this whole process. It seems as though we can’t get any solution that makes anybody that lives around the neighborhood happy no matter what alternative we take up.”

The item on Monday’s agenda was a request to make minor zoning changes to a 136-acre tract at Kannapolis Parkway and Rogers Lake Road. Through an attorney, a group of landowners asked the City Council to remove conditions on the property that would allow for multifamily developments.

Council members focused on the fact that multifamily developments — apartments, for example — would not be allowed under the proposed zoning. Attorneys for local residents, however, argued that they opposed the rezoning because local residents would not have a say in plans for the final development.

“We oppose the current proposal largely because it’s open-ended and unrestricted,” said attorney Madeline Trilling. “It basically means (the developer) is entitled to construct any of the uses.”

In a 5-2 vote, the City Council approved the rezoning, which splits the 136-acre tract into four sections. Sections closest to Kannapolis Parkway would be approved for a range of office and commercial uses. A section at the rear of the property would be approved for low-density residential structures, such as single-family homes. A middle section would be approved for a range of office-type uses.

If a developer wants to build on the tract, planning staff would be responsible for ensuring that city requirements are met. Noting a statement by council members during the meeting, Kannapolis resident Donald Hester said planning staff may make decisions that are best for the city, but he said he doesn’t feel “they have the residents’ best interests in mind.”

Hester and his wife, Karen, who live near the 136-acre tract, said they are disappointed that developers get to talk with city staff for weeks or months before the City Council considers zoning requests and residents aren’t part of the same conversations.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.