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China Grove councilman withdraws application for zoning change, scraps plans

CHINA GROVE — After applying for a zoning change that would have allowed him to move his security business downtown, China Grove councilman Steve Stroud has withdrawn the application and no longer has plans to relocate to 221 S. Main St.

Stroud was seeking to make a change to China Grove’s existing downtown zoning laws that were prohibiting him from relocating Tarheel Safe and Lock to property on South Main Street because of its business classification. Stroud’s plans prompted pushback from former China Grove Mayor Lee Withers.

Stroud made the decision to withdraw his application on Tuesday after a survey of the property determined the majority of the two buildings on the land are located within the North Carolina Railroad Company’s right-of-way. 

The railroad company has jurisdiction over 100 feet on each side of the centerline of the track. As a result, Stroud would own the property, but the North Carolina Railroad Company would have the right to force Stroud to relocate if it wanted to place another track on the property in the future.

“Hopefully they compensate you for your property, but they have a right. You’re taking a chance,” said Town Manager Ken Deal.

Securing financing for properties located in railroad right-of-ways can be difficult. Deal said that “a lot of financial institutions will not loan anyone money because of it.”

As a result of the two buildings being in the rail’s right-of-way, Stroud said that he no longer sees the property as a viable investment.

The really sad part for the town is that the property will most likely be very difficult to do anything with due to the right of way issue and we will all have to look at it for a long time,” Stroud said.

Deal said that several buildings downtown are located within the railroad’s right-of-way and that the tracks can be an obstacle to development.

Deal said that the town will refund Stroud the $1,000 he paid to the town for the text amendment change application because the application process had not been completely started yet.

Stroud said that he will continue to look for a suitable location for his business.

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