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Salisbury City Council votes to establish procedure to designate landmarks

SALISBURY — Thanks to state law, any local government entity can designate a landmark.

But until Tuesday, there was no way for Salisbury to take advantage of it.

The Salisbury City Council voted unanimously to correct that, and other land development concerns, at its Tuesday night meeting by amending Chapter 15 of the city code.

“It’s basically good housekeeping,” said City Planner Kyle Harris.

Now that the city has established a procedure to designate historic landmarks, people will be able to submit their property or something on their property for consideration.

But Harris warned that the process to get something approved as a historic landmark is “extensive.”

“Property owners who do want their properties to be designated must produce a rigorous survey and research report, which they’ll present to development services, basically attesting to the fact that the property is of ‘special significance,’” Harris said.

Harris said the definition of “special significance” is very specific and difficult to show, thereby making the process even more selective.

The property owner would then have to have an application reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office and the City Council.

The public would be given the chance to provide input in each case.

Applicants would bear the cost of the application process and, should their landmark be selected, adhere to the city’s historic design guidelines.

Harris said there are benefits to having the designation, one of which would be getting an annual 50 percent property tax deferral.

“This is a way of encouraging the long-term upkeep and maintenance of the property,” Harris said.

Chapter 15, which deals with development processes, also was amended to update quasijudicial proceeding details, clarify legislative procedures and specify a Local Historic Overlay establishment.

In other business:

  • The council heard an update from Police Chief Jerry Stokes on staffing, a new crime deterrence initiative and opioid overdose numbers.

Stokes said that 73 sworn positions have now been filled, bringing the department’s staffing level up to 90.1 percent. He said he plans to have another person through the hiring process by the end of August.

The new crime deterrence initiative is called the Neighborhood Crime Abatement Team and would be devoted to reducing violent crime. Stokes said it is just a pilot program for now, as the department tries to balance staffing requirements with emerging projects.

Stokes then gave an update on the recent spike in opioid overdoses in the city.

“Actually, in the last six weeks, we’ve had more occurrences than we had between Jan. 1 and June 30 to occur,” Stokes said. “So it has popped up as a very significant issue for us.”

Police data show that there have been 65 overdoses since Jan. 1, but Stokes said the number could be higher. There have been six verified deaths from opioid overdoses since Jan. 1.

Stokes said that moving forward, community resources need to be utilized.

  •  The council voted unanimously to set a public hearing for its Sept. 5 meeting to give people a chance to weigh in on granting an incentive grant for Project Aero.

The nature of the project is not yet known, but it is a joint project between RowanWorks and an established local company that has not been named.

The project could bring 24 new jobs to the area that would pay about $50,000 a year.

Scott Shelton, vice president of operations for RowanWorks, said the amount of money being requested from the city has not been set yet because project leaders are waiting to hear what, if anything, the state will offer.

  • The council voted unanimously to approve a site plan that will ensure that future veterans monuments placed in City Park’s Patriot Memorial will be arranged in chronological order.

In 2012, the Patriot Flag Concourse and Memorial was unveiled at City Park. The memorial included several brick walls that were meant to honor all Rowan County veterans who had served in every war.

Now, maintenance manager Stephen Brown has designed a site plan that will allow the Patriot Memorial to grow and eventually accommodate a memorial for each conflict that Rowan County veterans have given their lives in.

The plan has a spot designated for each conflict — beginning with World War II and ending with the current conflict in Afghanistan — put in chronological order, so that the circular space that will encompass all future monuments will have them ascending in age.

Only the original brick monuments are now at the Patriot Memorial. Aceves said the Parks and Recreation Department will begin accepting proposals for new monuments immediately.

Contact Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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