Planning Board votes to recommend Faith Road shopping center construction

Published 12:47 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017


SALISBURY — In a 7-1 vote, the Salisbury Planning Board voted to recommend a rezoning that would allow an 11,000-square-foot shopping center to be built on Faith Road.

The parcel of land that the shopping center would be built on — at 517 Faith Road — is wooded and borders a residential neighborhood. It is located just behind the Rowan County Department of Social Services building.

“The shopping center will be intended for general retail, sit-down restaurants and the like,” said development services manager Preston Mitchell.

Bill Burgin, who is chairman of the Planning Board, had to recuse himself from the vote because he is the architect for the project.

Of the five people in the audience, Burgin was the only one to speak in favor of the project during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

“The property is almost surrounded by CMX; that’s a fact. There’s going to be a lot of pressure in the future; we just have to be the first,” Burgin said.

CMX stands for Corridor Mixed-Use, a zoning designation that allows for commercial development.

The Faith Road parcel is currently zoned for general and urban residential use, but the parcel’s owners — Jose and Faustina Escobar — want it to be rezoned to CMX so that the shopping center can be built.

“The point is, I think you’ll find in the future that there’s a lot of pressure on that strip (of land),” Burgin said. “And the neighbors can use this in terms of shopping and walking.”

Martha Barbee, whose 95-year-old mother lives in the neighborhood bordering the proposed shopping center, said during the public hearing that the center’s parking lot would be “right in her (mother’s) backyard.”

“So all of it is going to be right encroached on everybody’s business, whether you put a buffer in there or not,” Barbee said. “They’re going to hear it, they’re going to see it, every day.”

The board members had been discussing what conditions they could require of the rezoning so that neighbors would be least affected. Some of those conditions included requiring a buffer zone for neighbors on the south side of the building, like Barbee’s mother, and making sure that all businesses in the center would be closed by 11 p.m.

Burgin and Mitchell said the Escobars hosted a community meeting at the Department of Social Services to hear from their neighbors about potential impacts. Burgin said that about 10 people showed up to the meeting and that it “went pretty well.”

Mitchell said that after discussing it with the city’s planning staff, he did not think that the proposed shopping center meets the qualifications for either of the city’s applicable long-term plans — the 20/20 Plan and the Eastern Gateway Area Plan. Both plans highlight the importance of maintaining established residential areas.

But, Mitchell said, he and the city’s planning staff did still recommend that the lot be rezoned because they don’t anticipate heavy residential growth in the neighborhood for quite a while.

“We don’t believe, at least in the foreseeable future, that the market demand is going to reach that kind of Charlotte (or) Raleigh type of a demand that’s going to lead … (to) higher-density residential. That would be so far in the future that we would have rewritten multiple long-range plans by then.”

Mitchell agreed with Burgin and said the pressure for the lot to accommodate commercial property would soon be “fairly heavy.”

The final vote was 7-1, with John Schaffer voting no and Burgin abstaining.

Other items on the agenda included:

• A rezoning for a Gaskey Road lot to allow for manufactured homes.

Patrick and Sue Sherrill wanted to increase their housing options on the property. The lot’s previous zoning — General Residential 3 — only allowed for “stick-built” and modular homes.

The Sherrills wanted the lot to be rezoned to a Manufactured Home District so that their lot would match the rest of the neighborhood and so they could have a manufactured home on the property.

Mitchell said the staff “could not find a reason not to do this,” because the rezoning would expand the city’s variety of housing choices.

The board unanimously voted in favor of the rezoning.

The City Council will make the final decision on both the shopping center and the manufactured home rezonings in October.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.