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West End Plaza renovations, airport expansion, school financing on commissioners agenda

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan County commissioners on Wednesday are scheduled to move forward with renovations at an underutilized county facility, approve a contract to expand another and schedule a public hearing to gather comments about spending $27.4 million on a third.

Commissioners will meet on Wednesday instead of Monday because of the July 4 holiday. The meeting will be at 3 p.m. in the county administration building.

The consent agenda, used for items with unanimous support, contains two of the construction-related items — an airport terminal expansion and remodeling the West End Plaza events center. On the regular agenda, commissioners will consider scheduling a public hearing on July 17 to gather comments about financing a new, western Rowan County elementary school.

For the airport terminal expansion, county commissioners are scheduled to award a $381,223 contract to Modern Construction Company.

The terminal building expansion involves adding 800 square feet of space and renovating 600 square feet of existing space. Contractors will build a larger conference room, turn the existing conference room into a pilot’s lounge and create an office out of the existing pilot’s lounge.

The recommended cost includes two alternates — a bathroom that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and replacing a metal roof.

A third alternate — putting moveable partitions in the conference room — is not included in the recommended cost. Adding the third alternate would increase costs by $13,810.

Also on the consent agenda is an item that would authorize County Manager Aaron Church to obtain costs for remodeling the former J.C. Penney’s building, also known as the West End Plaza events center. The specific renovations would include additional bathrooms, paint, flooring, electrical upgrades and a portable audio/visual system, according to Wednesday’s agenda.

Commissioners have allowed private individuals and groups to rent the events center space for various functions, but haven’t spent significant amounts of money on renovating it. During a retreat in January, county commissioners discussed whether they should build a convention center inside of West End Plaza but settled on making small renovations to the J.C. Penney’s space instead.

County commissioners are still only a few million dollars into a planned $28 million move of county departments into West End Plaza. Commissioners have discussed making exterior improvements and moving additional county departments into the building but have not followed through with those plans.

County commissioners bought the former mall in 2013 for $3.45 million. Commissioners said county department space was the reason for the purchase.

Commissioners on Wednesday also will consider scheduling a meeting on July 17 to receive public comments about financing that would allow for the consolidation of Woodleaf and Cleveland elementary schools. Commissioners have agreed to provide $27.5 million to build the school. The Rowan-Salisbury school system is expected to use part of its fund balance to pay for projected cost overages.

After holding the public hearing, county commissioners could proceed with seeking financing proposals.

In other business on Wednesday’s agenda:

• Rowan County commissioners will consider increasing the yearly tattoo permit fee from $200 to $250.

In a letter to commissioners, the Rowan County Health Department writes that tattoo artists have been charged the same fee for 22 years. However, the average tattoo fee across the state is $225 to $250, according to the letter.

On June 13, the increase received approval from the Board of Health. Commissioners’ approval would make the fee increase final.

The increase appears on the consent agenda.

• Commissioners will hold a quasi-judicial hearing about a solar farm on 46 acres of land on John Rainey Road.

The solar farm would specifically be located on the 500 block of John Rainey Road. It would use 11 acres of the 46-acre parcel. Jeff Austin with Lumina Sun Inc. is requesting a conditional use permit for the solar farm.

In a staff report, the county’s planning department writes that visibility of the solar panels would be the primary impact of the development. Visibility would be limited to two residences.

If a permit is approved, county staff recommend that commissioners include the following conditions: developers orient the solar panels 180 degrees with a 30 degree tilt, developers obtain a driveway permit before the issuance of a zoning permit and developers maintain warning signage around the fence perimeter at 120-foot intervals.

• Commissioners will conduct a public hearing to rezone a tract of land near the intersection of Webb and Old Concord roads from rural agricultural to commercial business and industrial.

The tract of land in question measures two acres. It’s adjacent to a tract of land owned by ABC Towing of the Carolinas. Later, the two-acre parcel would be combined with the ABC towing parcel, according to Wednesday’s agenda.

• Commissioners will select a delegate for the annual N.C. Association of County Commissioners Conference in August.

• Commissioners will discuss whether to sell a tract of land on Martha Street in Kannapolis to Lizbeth Ballesteros for $8,000.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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