Neighbor concerns prompt pause on 2,400-square-foot event enter in Rockwell

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 22, 2022

SALISBURY — Commissioners on Monday night tabled an application for an event center and cabins southwest of Rockwell after a number of neighbors expressed concerns about plans for the property.

Deborah Wright is requesting a special use permit for a 2,400-square-foot event center and six cabins on her 10-acre property located at 3425 Organ Church Road. The event center would be able to accommodate up to 200 patrons, and the cabins would be for two or three people to spend the night during events such as weddings. Wright said the cabins are a long-range goal and the event center is the top priority.

“Really what I’m trying to do is bring community together,” Wright said. “I have kind of a love language in celebrating life’s events and getting people together and that’s kind of my dream so that’s what we’re trying to do here. It is not going to be a huge, elaborate event center.”

The plan Wright proposed Monday called for creating an entrance to the event center on Doublethumb Road, which is a privately maintained and connects about 14 residences to Organ Church Road. Wright’s own home is near the entrance point to Doublethumb on Organ Church. The entrance to the event center on Doublethumb would led to the venue near the middle of her property, behind her home.

Several of Wright’s neighbors stepped to the lectern to express issues with Wright’s plan, with most of the concerns stemming from Wright’s designs to put the entrance on Doublethumb Road, not Organ Church.

Neighbors said the gravel road would not be able to accommodate hundreds of cars driving on it to get to the event center. Neighbors said they would worry about the safety of their children, who ride bicycles and horses on Doublethumb Road. They also said the turn from Organ Church Road onto Doublethumb Road while driving southbound is already perilous because it requires drivers to make a hairpin turn. With more traffic being driven by the event center, neighbors believe the turn would be even more dangerous.

Commissioners expressed concern about whether emergency personnel such as ambulances and firefighters would have proper access to the event center via Doublethumb Road. Neighbors echoed those same concerns, referencing a fire that engulfed a house on Doublethumb Road and killed two last year. The fire posed access issues for firefighters, neighbors said.

County Attorney Jay Dees questioned whether Wright had the legal authority to create an entrance on Doublethumb Road because it is not a public access road. Wright said she only planned the entrance off Doublethumb Road because the North Carolina Department of Transportation requested she not make an entrance on Organ Church Road due to safety concerns.

Several neighbors also expressed concerns about having the event center near their homes at all, since alcohol could be served during events. One nearby resident said he moved next to the property for peace and quiet and he didn’t want that disturbed. That same neighbor asked commissioners to put buffering standards in place between his property and the event center if the permit is approved.

Commissioners didn’t approve or deny the permit, electing instead to table to matter until a meeting on March 21. At that point, the public hearing for the request will be reopened. The delay gives Wright more time to adjust her request taking into account the concerns of her neighbors. It will also allow time to sort out the issue of whether she has the ability to add an entrance on Doublethumb Road.

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About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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