Rowan County commissioners approve Old Beatty Ford Road as name for new road near Interstate 85

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 21, 2017

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — Old Beatty Ford Road will make a half-mile move north near Interstate 85 as a result of a relocation project.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously picked Old Beatty Ford Road as the name for a strip of road that will be the site of a new I-85 exit and located just north of a road by the same name. The name change received support from first responders and the U.S. Postal Service. It won’t become official for two or more years.

Monday’s action was needed in order for the N.C. Department of Transportation to order appropriate signs for the new road, said county Planning Technician Aaron Poplin. Crews are building the new road now; construction on the I-85 exit has not started.

A few local residents expressed concerns about the name because they said it would cause a chain reaction of road renamings in the area affecting dozens of addresses. But Commissioner Craig Pierce said it was the best solution in a difficult situation.

Pierce said he met with Rowan Communications Director Allen Cress and Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason to talk about a name change and any potential alternatives.

“I did want the public to know that we did take the time to research it and see if there was any option that would be less intrusive to those residents on that road,” Pierce said. “Unfortunately, because of the way the new road will be constructed, it has to be Old Beatty Ford Road.”

Simply choosing a new name for the road would create confusion for first responders, Bostian Heights Fire Chief Mike Zimmerman said in a letter to the county.

“If the name of the roads involved would remain as is, there could be four road name changes within a short span of this road. … This would be very confusing to citizens traveling or calling in an emergency or when using GPS and very confusing for emergency personnel responding,” Zimmerman said in the letter.

The section of the existing Old Beatty Ford Road that will be affected is in the Bostian Heights community. It starts at Bostian Road, crosses I-85 and ends at Lentz Road. The new Old Beatty Ford Road also will start at Bostian Road. However, the new road will shoot straight across the interstate instead of taking a winding path. A number of addresses on Lentz Road will change to Old Beatty Ford Road.

New names for other roads in the area will be selected later. Poplin said a public hearing will be held on that issue.

In other business at Monday’s meeting:

• The commissioners unanimously approved the $100,000 sale of a vacant county building and land to James Sauls Jr. of Salisbury.

The sale includes an office building that once housed the Department of Social Services and other departments. It also includes an adjacent parking lot. It does not include a nearby rose garden.

The sale comes after months of bidding on the property and years of trying to find a use for the building. The first bidding started at $20,000.

• Commissioners gave approval to Sheriff Kevin Auten to buy equipment for a new investigator position.

The new investigator would focus on enforcement of state and federal narcotics laws, with a particular interest in drug conspiracies. Commissioners had already approved the position as part of the current year’s budget. However, County Manager Aaron Church said there was an agreement that the position would be discussed again before someone was hired.

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners talked about the importance of the position in the context of local gun- and drug-related problems.

Auten said he plans to hire someone who previously worked for the State Bureau of Investigation. Auten said the investigator likely won’t start until after the beginning of the 2017-18 fiscal year — July 1.

The annual salary and benefits of the new investigator will be $69,520.76.

• Commissioners approved a request to rezone a 7-acre parcel on Peach Orchard Lane from an industrial classification to one known as commercial, business and industrial.

Located near a recently finished Peeler Road bridge that crosses U.S. 29, the tract had a conditional-use designation that would have allowed for a scrap metal recycling center. No development occurred, and the conditional-use designation expired. Now, the tract could have a wide range of commercial, business and light industrial uses.

There are no specific development plans for the property.

• As part of their consent agenda, the commissioners approved a contract with Windstream Communications for backup internet services.

County staff recommended Windstream over Fibrant and Spirit Communications. Windstream’s backup service would balance internet traffic and provide redundancy. The proposed Windstream contract is $69,840 over three years. By comparison, Fibrant submitted a bid of $87,480 over three years.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.