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China Grove approves change for apartment complex, talks budget priorities

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — The town council on Tuesday night moved one step closer to seeing new residential construction when they approved a zoning change that allows for the development of a nearly 24-acre, multi-family residential development, called Ketchie Estates Apartments, on Ketchie Estates Road.

The developer next will meet with China Grove’s Planning Board’s Technical Review Committee before beginning construction. Town Manager Ken Deal said there is no date yet set for the project’s start.

Town council members also met prior to the regular meeting for a budget retreat to discuss priorities that include completion of the two indoor bathrooms at the China Grove Community Center, developing park amenities at the center, the formulation of a street repair plan and determining how best to fund the town’s storm water and waste management services — all of which are the immediate priorities.

Additionally, the board discussed the need to re-establish the Board of Trade.

Deal said a town budget is expected to be ready by April. The projects discussed at the meeting include immediate priorities as well as projects that council members want to keep in mind for the upcoming years.

Completion of the two bathrooms will amount to $40,000. Park amenities would include trees and picnic shelters with grills.

Town council members struggled to determine whether to charge a fee or levy a tax on the town’s storm water and waste management services in order to fund the program. The cost to remove waste in the town is $180,000 per year. Deal said the town receives $31,000 per penny to fund the services, thus, a 6-cent tax increase would be required to fund the entire project.

A state statute requires that all municipalities rewrite their unified development ordinance by January of 2021, which places the funding question for this project at the forefront of council members’ minds.

Council members Brandon Linn and Steve Stroud said they don’t agree with the use of fees to operate the stormwater and waste management services.

“I’m not a fee person, I dislike fees,” Linn said.

Stroud said taxes must fund the city and its services, not fees.

At the meeting, Deal cited the expected tax growth as a factor to consider for the upcoming year’s projects. In July, the property tax rate was decreased by 4 cents per $100 of valuation after the town unanimously passed a revenue-neutral budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The new property tax rate is 54 cents per $100 of valuation.

He added that China Grove is expected to grow due to both business and residential interest in setting up shop in the town.

The Board of Trade is a nonprofit organization that promotes business and growth in the town of China Grove by hosting periodic events to connect community members. Deal said the program has dwindled within the past few years, and the town believes it’s a good asset. Deal said he has been talking with business owners to get the program going again.

Other projects the council members are keeping on their radar include:

  • Plans to develop an industrial park on the southeast side of Interstate 85 Exit 68.
  • Plans to utilize the Manus property on South Main Street by either selling it or developing it.
  • Plans to develop a sports complex on Patterson Street.
  • Continuing efforts to provide water across the railroad on Webb Road. Currently, the east side of the town has sewage, but needs water. Thus, the town is working with Rowan County to provide water services in that area as there is speculation for development.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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