China Grove Town Council gives more time to proposed apartment complex

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

CHINA GROVE — An old residential development has a new lease on life.

The Town Council on Tuesday night approved extending a special use permit for an apartment complex planned for a 23.66-acre site at the end of Ketchie Estates Road near I-85.

A proposal for the development was brought before the board in early 2020 by Chris Loukos of New South Enterprises. The site plans call for the construction of a 216-unit apartment complex complete with a clubhouse, pool, playground and 401 parking spaces. The complex would be built near Cold Water Creek, just out of a floodplain.

While zonings have changed since this map was used in 2020, the map indicates where the apartment complex would be constructed.

A special use permit and other necessary approvals for the complex were passed by the council in March of 2020, but a building permit was never issued and the project did not move forward.

With the two-year deadline for the special use permit approaching, Loukos asked the town council to extend the permit for another two years. Assistant Town Manager Franklin Gover said Loukos recently sold the property and the extension will give the new owner two years to get a building permit and move forward with construction.

Although the property may be under new ownership, Gover said the conditions for the complex included in the special use permit previously approved will carry over. Therefore, the new owner would need approval from the Town Council before making any major modifications to site plans such as an increase or reduction in the number of apartment units. One of the conditions that carries over is that the developer will need to make improvements to and widen Ketchie Estates Road, which was formerly the only access point for residents of the apartment complex.

Since the original special use permit for the apartment complex was issued in 2020, the Town Council has approved plans for a major subdivision called Liberty Grove to be constructed on 76.2 acres adjacent to the proposed apartment complex. Liberty Grove is a mix of single-family homes, townhomes and commercial space.

Mayor Charles Seaford said he is hopeful the change in ownership and permit extension indicates that construction of the apartment complex will finally move forward. He believes the development would mesh well with Liberty Grove and that the roads developed in Liberty Grove would provide residents of the apartment complex more avenues to reach Lentz Road or U.S. 29, meaning less traffic would go directly through Ketchie Estates Road.

Seaford said he is glad to see movement on the apartment complex, especially as China Grove is vying for major economic development projects that would bring more jobs to the area.

“I really think we’re going to need (the apartments),” Seaford said.

Several other residential developments are currently underway in China Grove, including Kensingston, a 174 single-family home development near Red Fox Lane and North Main Street.

In other meeting business:

• The council discussed its strategy for using American Rescue Plan Act funding. China Grove is slated to receive about $1.3 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council member Steve Stroud said he’d like to wait until the town starts its budgeting process next month to consider allocating any funds. Council member Cheryl Sheets said there are local nonprofits who might be in need of funding sooner than that. The council instructed the town’s staff to develop a process through which local nonprofits can apply for ARPA funding.

• The Town Council approved a rezoning request from Gary Morton to rezone a 3-acre parcel of land at 1755 U.S. 29 from highway business to mixed residential. A house on the property has been used as a real estate office, but Morton said the intention is to sell the house to someone who wishes to use it as a home.

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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