Salisbury council approves changes for sidewalks, home design oversight, other parts of land development ordinance

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, February 2, 2022

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — City Council members on Tuesday approved a slew of modifications and clarifying changes to the city’s land development ordinance in preparation for population and business growth.

The changes related to standards for the “pay in lieu of sidewalks” program, environmental protections, privacy fences and clarity about what is considered a bar/tavern/nightclub.

In chapter 4, which relates to subdivisions and infrastructure, an addition was made to section 4.5 to clarify that upon completion of construction, streets and public utilities will be accepted into the city system, at which time the guarantee of construction will be released.

In section 4.9, which relates to sidewalks, changes clarified instances in which sidewalk installation is impractical due to environmental barriers such as adjacent streams or the area’s topography. Development Services Manager Teresa Barringer said staff also revamped the city’s “payment in lieu of” program for sidewalk installation, which allows developers to pay a fee in lieu of installing sidewalks if their development is eligible. Barringer said new developments that construct new roads are required to install sidewalks on both sides, but if there is already an existing sidewalk in the area near the development, developers may opt not to connect their development to the sidewalks themselves. Instead, the city would collect the fee and use the funds to install the sidewalk itself.

Before Tuesday’s adopted changes, the LDO separated Salisbury into seven priority zones, which Mayor Karen Alexander said were created to separate areas based on their similarities. The new changes to the LDO eliminate that map, which Barringer said will provide more flexibility with funds received as part of the “payment in lieu of” program. The city would have more discretion to use the funds received from developers in that program to make infrastructure improvements elsewhere in that general area. Meanwhile, funds collected from developers since the program began in 2008 will still be tied to the zones where they were received. The new wording eliminates strict boundaries and limited use of funds for developments moving forward.

Since 2008, the city has collected $117,689 in such funds from 24 developers. The rate had been set at $26.50 per linear foot throughout 2020 and 2021.

Further language changes in that section clarified the rate charged per linear foot to developers in the program will be subject per the time and material costs at the time of proposal rather than the original proposed amendment to make the rate subject to each fiscal year budget’s fee schedule. Changing the rate cost was suggested by council member David Post, with Alexander in agreement, due to the rapidly changing price of construction.

Overall, Barringer said, language pertaining to the section allows the city to streamline its review and approval process for development proposals and receive more money to make infrastructure improvements, particularly since developers already pay a discounted rate per linear foot that doesn’t include installation costs.

Changes in chapter 6, section 6.3.E, removed the city’s involvement in regulating the design standards of single family residential developments. Barringer said there are state statutes that prevent such involvement because the city only has the authority over historic districts and properties recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

In section 6.5.D, regulations of a “privacy fence” for swimming pools have stirred a lot of discussion in the past, Barringer said. So, the LDO now only specifies a fence with a self-latching gate is required because some homeowners associations, for example, may have different standards for fences, such as the use of wrought iron fencing.

In chapter 9.3, the city established penalties for violation of erosion control and sedimentation regulations for developments, which are in place to protect the city’s stormwater system. The changes in the section also clarify those regulations for developers. A fee of $5,000 per day of violation could be imposed, which Barringer said is in line with state standards.

In chapter 16, the only changes made were to eliminate the requirement of printing out five copies of the design plans. Barringer said there has been a nearly exclusive shift to digital-only plans, with the exception of plans with conditional district overlays that require the mayor’s signature.

In chapter 18, Barringer said language was added to clarify the definition of a bar/tavern/nightclub. The LDO now defines it as a business “where alcoholic beverages are sold for on-site consumption, which are not part of a larger restaurant use or other permitted-by-right primary use with alcoholic consumption being secondary to the primary use.” Barringer said this eliminates the need for non-restaurants that wish to sell alcohol for an event to seek a special use permit from the city. Instead, they’d only need to focus on meeting Alcohol Beverage Control requirements.

Councilman Post asked if staff members need to make another modification to the “on-site consumption” part of the definition if the city approves a social district where alcohol could be consumed outside of businesses. City Attorney Graham Corriher said it’s a fair question and something that may require a revision, along with other necessary revisions if the district is approved.

Barringer said the Salisbury Planning Board unanimously approved of the proposed amendments before she presented them before the council.

Also at the meeting:

• Amy Lynn Albertson of the Rowan County Cooperative Extension Center requests the public take the Working Agricultural Lands Plan survey by March 17. Data from that survey will help the Rowan County Agricultural Advisory Board and Cooperative Extension develop a Working Agricultural Lands Plan to show the current state of agriculture and forestry, outline challenges and opportunities as well as make recommendations to help sustain local family farms and forests. The survey can be taken by visiting

• The council approved an amendment to the 2021-22 budget in the amount of $5,000 to appropriate funds from the U.S. Secret Service for the purchase of equipment used in criminal investigations. Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes told the Post the grant will be used to purchase computer forensic equipment to retrieve information from electronic devices or media. SPD receives the funding because a member of an Internet Crimes Against Children task force, he added.

• The council set a public hearing for the March 1 meeting regarding a request for voluntary annexation from Cloninger Ford Investments located at 645 Julian Road.

• Council members agreed to hold the next regularly scheduled meeting of Feb. 15 virtually and potentially returning to Council Chambers for hybrid meetings beginning March, depending on COVID-19 trends at that time.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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