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Phase 3 of RoMed Medical Center gets go ahead from Planning Board

SALISBURY — A rezoning request to allow construction of the third phase of RoMed Medical Center, on Mitchell Avenue, will now go before the City Council after the Salisbury Planning Board recommended approval at its meeting Tuesday.

Applicant Robert Watts spoke about the need for the additional two-story medical office center to join the two other properties near the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and Lincolnton Road, explaining there currently is inadequate communications between that campus and the Manning Park location. The center wants to bring medical staff and patients back to the same location.

The rezoning, if approved by the City Council, would be from general residential to residential mixed use with a conditional district. The conditional district ordinance prevents the applicant from going against what was presented and approved.

“They have to actually produce that,” Chairman Bill Wagoner said. “If they don’t, they’re in violation of the CD, should it be granted by City Council. It can only be a medical office under this CD.”

Several residents of Fulton Heights, which neighbors the property, came to support the additional medical center.

Andrew Pitner and Dottie Hoy both commended the applicants for taking time to meet with the neighborhood association. Pitner had one request — adding a sidewalk on the parcel to join the existing one. Wagoner recommended he speak to City Council members about that.

Kristen Riley, who lives on Wiley Avenue next to the parcel where the new building would be, spoke in opposition to the rezoning request, saying she enjoys the sunsets from that direction and doesn’t want to look at a building.

“I don’t like the idea,” Riley said. “I’m the one staring at it.”

Teresa Miller followed her, saying she initially wasn’t a supporter of RoMed Medical Center moving in, but now she sees it as a blessing. She said Fulton Heights residents can now see a general doctor in their neighborhood.

Boyd Watts said he worked with Fulton Heights residents to ensure everyone got what they wanted.

The board unanimously approved the rezoning with the conditional district designation.

The board on Tuesday also reworked the land development ordinance to revise a text amendment addressing garden features and structures.

An amendment was previously recommended by the Planning Board, but when it went to the City Council for approval, Councilwoman Karen Alexander wanted the board to rethink how the change would affect all properties.

City staff members said two properties, Wallace Cancer Center and Bell Tower GreenPpark, were being hindered in executing their design plans by the land development ordinance.

The Planning Board agreed unanimously to the proposed changes.

The changes include that garden structures, such as pergolas, in residential zones must be 5% or less than the gross square footage of the primary structure, subject to a minimal 10-foot setback and only in the exterior structure. In commercial zones, they must be be 5% or less than the gross square footage of the primary structure, subject to a minimal 20-foot setback and only in the exterior structure.

Garden features, which include arbors or trellises, must be 5% or less than the gross square footage of the primary structure, have a 5-foot minimal setback for front and exterior side yards in residential zones, and 5% or less than gross square footage of primary structure, with a 10-foot minimal setback for front and exterior side yards in commercial zones.

The board recommended that the text amendment go back to the City Council for approval. Members said it will allow residents and business owners to have some creativity with their landscape while protecting neighborhood interests.

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