Rowan County zoning ordinance could see changes

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 24, 2017

SALISBURY — What started as a request to rezone property near High Rock Lake may lead to changes in Rowan County’s zoning ordinance.

On Monday, the county commissioners held a public hearing on a request to rezone property owned by Travis Cauble of Salisbury.

Cauble requested that the property be changed from rural agricultural zoning to commercial, business and industrial with a conditional district to accommodate a 4,000-square-foot metal fabrication shop.

Cauble planned to manufacture barbecue smokers and grills at the site. He initially requested a neighborhood business zoning, but manufacturing of household cooking equipment was not permitted under that category.

Cauble’s plans have since been delayed for at least 90 days because the commissioners feared that spot zoning could create an unwelcome county trend.

“I don’t like spot zoning CBI in the middle of an RA district because once you spot-zone that, you set a precedent for everybody else in the county to spot-zone,” said Commissioner Craig Pierce. “ … These people that bought their property zoned RA didn’t want to have commercial development there, so I don’t think we’re doing all the other property owners justice by spot-zoning this.”

Shane Stewart, assistant director of the county’s Planning and Development Department, said the Planning Board recommended pursuing a change in the number of uses for neighborhood business zoning.

“The neighborhood business district isn’t utilized,” he said. “It was developed in ’03, and we’ve had very little application.”

Commissioners Mike Caskey and Jim Greene expressed concern for setting back Cauble’s business plans.

“He could get his and be the last one to get it, so he wouldn’t have to wait five or six months,” Caskey said.

Pierce said the time it should take to adjust the ordinance should be negligible.

“If he’s serious about opening this business, I know four to six months is a delay. But if he’s going to be here for 40 years, what does it matter?” Pierce said.

Cauble, who has manufactured smokers and grills for five years, was not given a chance to speak during the hearing. After the meeting, he said he didn’t think that speaking would have influenced the board’s decision.

In the end, the commissioners decided to table the request and ask the Planning Board to pursue expansion of the neighborhood business ordinance.

To expedite Cauble’s business development, the Planning Board will at first expand the ordinance to include his proposed use. It will later look at the ordinance and table of uses for a more in-depth and comprehensive revision.

Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said the expansion could come at a critical time for the community around High Rock Lake.

“This may come at a good time,” Edds said. “We’re going to have to decide what that whole area looks like because there’s going to be interest in that area regardless of what some say or think. We do have a pretty valuable asset out there, and we’re going to have to decide how that is developed and what the look is.”