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Council to discuss zoning changes, text amendments

By Jessica Coates
jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — There have been a number of zoning changes the Planning Board — an advisory board to the City Council — has discussed in recent weeks.

Now it is time for the Salisbury City Council to weigh in and make a final decision on them.

At its Tuesday night meeting, Council will receive staff presentations and hold public hearings for two rezoning cases and two text amendments.

The first rezoning case involves a petition to rezone a 16-acre lot on Statesville Boulevard from general residential to highway business.

At the Planning Board’s Jan. 23 meeting, Preston Mitchell — the city’s planning and development manager — said the difference between general residential and highway business is a “pretty big jump” in terms of zoning classifications.

The petition was submitted by Duran Merrell on behalf of his church, Maranatha Bible Church. Merrell said the church wanted to be able to install an electronic message center to better advertise their congregation.

Because of the city’s new sign ordinance, electronic message center signs can only be installed on property zoned for highway business.

Mitchell said the Planning Board was not to pay attention to why the petition was submitted but rather what would happen to the property if the rezoning was approved.

“Yes, that’s what the church wants to do with it. But if they get it rezoned, in 30 days the church could turn around and sell the property,” Mitchell said. “Now you’ve got a 16-acre tract of land that would be highway business zoning. Is it appropriate to rezone this land to highway business?”

In the end, Mitchell said he and staff supported the petition.

“As your planner, I would argue that it would not be detrimental to the neighborhoods that are off of Statesville Boulevard and would not be detrimental to immediate surrounding properties to allow this property to go ahead and convert to commercial,” Mitchell said at the Jan. 23 meeting. “… From the perspective of our policies and the ability for our city to grow and expand, as your planner I would not say that this would be a detrimental rezoning.”

The Planning Board agreed, unanimously.

At the same Jan. 23 meeting, the Planning Board also considered whether to support a rezoning from urban residential to corridor mixed-use in the 400 block of Bringle Ferry Road.

The petition to rezone the four lots was submitted by J&J Tire and Auto owner Joel Flores, whose business is at 401 Bringle Ferry Road.

Flores is hoping to open a car dealership on the adjacent lots, which he cannot do on property zoned for urban residential.

Mitchell again told the Board they needed to think beyond what Flores wanted to do with the property and about what the larger ramifications of the rezoning would be.

Corridor mixed-use zoning allows for construction of all types of buildings, with the exception of some housing.

Mitchell said he and staff had decided to support Flores’ petition because the rezoning would not “jeopardize the public health, safety and welfare” of the nearby Park Avenue neighborhood.

The Planning Board unanimously agreed to recommend the rezoning to Council.

The two text amendments Council will consider involve the Land Development Ordinance. One amendment is related to building cladding and one is related to public notifications.

Other items on the agenda include:

• Council will receive a Comprehensive Financial Report (CAFR) presentation.

According to the released meeting agenda, general statutes require that all municipalities have their financial records audited annually.

The city compiled its financial reports for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017, and Elliot Davis, PLLC, audited them.

The report will be presented by Elliot Davis, PLLC, and the city’s financial services department.

• Council will consider boarding the entrance of the abandoned structure on 305 E. Fisher Street.

According to the released meeting agenda, the abandoned structure has become a “known gathering place for vagrants.”

City Development and Code Services submitted the request.

The Salisbury City Council will meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall — 217 S. Main St.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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