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Spencer amends zoning on Long Ferry Road

SPENCER — A rezoning proposal drew concern at the Spencer Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday after board members found the issue could be related to coal ash removal efforts.

Troy Powell, land management director, told the board he received a request to add zoning permissions to two pieces of property on Long Ferry Road and Montclair Drive. A company is hoping to build a trucking terminal there, but current zoning won’t permit such a project.

The company requested the town make a text amendment to its interstate business zoning district to allow businesses specializing in automobile repair, trucking terminals, warehousing, painting and upholstery.

But when board member David Lamanno pointed out that the terminal would be servicing trucks removing coal ash from Buck Steam Station grounds, the board balked. The coal ash cleanup is expected to last 10 years, and if approved, the terminal would be there for that period of time, as well.

“Just giving a blanket (permit) seems a little premature,” Lamanno said.

He suggested a conditional-use permit rather than a blanket zoning, he said.

But there were other factors to consider. The properties border Interstate 85, and amending the properties’ zoning not only fits with the town’s land use plan but would open the door for economic growth. The amendment would allow a current business on Montclair Drive to service trucks and diesel engines, which the owners has expressed interest in.

It was the unknowns that caused the board to hesitate. Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Hovis asked if the terminal be washing down trucks that had carried coal ash.

“You don’t know what kind of hazard they’re bringing in with all the trucking,” Hovis said.

“It could be benign, but we don’t know,” Lamanno responded.

What it came down to, he said, was that the board just didn’t have enough information. The risk could be small or even nonexistent, and he asked whether that’s enough to discourage businesses from moving in.

“I would hate to turn down the opportunity for another trucking company that might come along,” Mayor Jim Gobbel said.

Lamanno said a conditional-use permit would not only allow the board to set limits that could mitigate potential negative impacts but might also allow the company to come forward and share more information.

Gobbel leaned in favor of the rezoning.

“That coal ash is gonna come out of there, where it’s a trucking terminal in our district or somewhere else,” he said.

Powell said that if the board chose a conditional use permit, it would provide the added “safeguard” of the Board of Adjustments. Not so if the property were rezoned.

“If you put (permitted) there, this board will have no more say,” he said.

Alderman Kevin Jones said the positives of economic growth outweigh the unknowns.

“I like the idea of continuing to move forward and doing all we can for growth and development,” he said.

After some more discussion, the board agreed that the unknowns were not sufficient enough reason to stall the project. The motion to amend the zoning passed 4-2, with aldermen Mike Boone and David Lamanno voting against.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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