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Despite citizen pushback, commissioners approve rezoning for 5-acre plot

SALISBURY — After lengthy discussion and comments from citizens, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday night approved a request to rezone a plot of land at the corner of Mooresville and Briggs roads.

The rezoning request, made by Daniel Almazan, of Allen Tate Realty, on behalf of Greer Goodman, was for the 5-acre plot of land to be rezoned from rural residential to commercial, business and industrial to help the land’s owner better market a portion of the land for sale. 

The approval of the rezoning was not unanimous, with Vice Chairman Jim Greene dissenting. While the rezoning request was approved by the Rowan County Planning Board at a meeting in September, both meetings featured citizens who live near the land and voiced their opposition to the rezoning.

The plot of land is located one the county’s regional nodes, which allows for commercial use.

Three neighbors conveyed concerns with the rezoning request, citing issues with a potential increase in traffic, loss of farmland and a general apprehension that a Dollar General or gas station will be built on the property.

“One of our major concerns is the fact that this intersection is an extremely busy intersection,” said Tiffany Wallace, who lives on land near the land in question. “ … At 8 o’clock and 5 o’clock you can’t even get out of your driveway.”

Edds addressed those concerns by pointing out that the most recent survey on the average number of cars per day on Mooresville and Briggs Roads are well under the design capacity set by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. As of 2019, 7,200 cars traversed Mooresville Road per day on average, well under the road’s design capacity of 13,600. Briggs Road has a design capacity of 12,500 cars per day but only 4,200 cars drove on the road per day on average as of 2018.

Edds said that his bigger concern was that the rezoning would result in a loss of potential farmland, which was an issue also voiced by the property’s neighbors. Greene, the one dissenting vote on the rezoning, shared those concerns and said that “little by little,” Rowan County’s farmland is going away.

Edds warned that this was an issue the county will be facing in the future as development continues to come.

Even though the commercial, business and industrial zoning will allow for a wide variety of uses, Edds said that the Board of Commissioners will still have control over what development goes on the land. That’s because the land is located in a watershed and the owner of the land won’t be able to surpass 12% impervious surface (artificial structures like concrete that are water resistant) without a special permit that must be approved by commissioners.

In other meeting business:

• Commissioners approved a request from the Rowan County Environmental Health Department for the purchase of $72,350 worth of GPS/GIS software and hardware for site inspectors to use. The funding would cover the purchase of five handheld devices and the software to use them.

Adrian Pruett, the Environmental Health supervisor, said that the new handheld devices and technology would result in “less errors and faster evaluations” for on-site soil and septic tank inspections.

The Environmental Health Department is currently working to cut down on a backlog in requested inspections. During the meeting, Pruett also updated commissioners on the progress the department has made. Currently, the wait time for an inspection is at four weeks and four days.

• Commissioners approved a motion to allocate $155,764.20 from the Medicaid Cost Settlement Fund to fund the Health Department’s Post Overdose Response Team, known as PORT, through Dec. 2021. PORT works to prevent opioid and drug overdoses by administering the anti-overdose drug Narcan and by providing resources to people who have overdosed.

Oliver requested that commissioners fund PORT through Dec. 31, 2022, but some commissioners expressed concern about funding the program for that long. Greene and Commissioner Craig Pierce said the county wanted to fund the program for only the next six months, as opposed to the full year, to make sure that the program is effective. Greene and Pierce voted against the motion.

• Commissioners approved a request from the Rowan Economic Development Commission for a level one grant to incentivize the company behind “Project Hero” to expand in the county. If the company behind “Project Hero” decides to expand its existing operations in the county, it would invest in building improvement and equipment and create 30 jobs over four years.

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