Commissioners approve rezoning for planned Long Ferry Road industrial park

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

SALISBURY — A major industrial park planned for Long Ferry Road received the rezoning approval it needed on Monday night.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a request from Red Rock Developments to rezone about 384 acres on Long Ferry Road from rural agricultural and rural agricultural with an agricultural overlay to commercial, business and industrial with a conditional district. The conditional district proposes a phased development plan for industrial use consisting of manufacturing, transportation and wholesale trade sector uses.

The rezoning clears the way for Red Rock to construct six “shell” buildings totaling 2.66 million square feet. All but one building will be on the south side of Long Ferry Road.

“We believe in Rowan County and the future of Rowan County and that this is the place to be,” said Todd Ward, senior vice president of planning for Red Rock. “It’s on the (I-85) corridor, it connects all kinds of areas in between and it’s a wonderful workforce and just a wonderful community. So, this is where we’d like to be and plant our flag.”

The industrial park will be located about a mile off I-85 at exit 81, not far from Chewy’s e-commerce fulfillment center.

Previously, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners agreed to give Red Rock a $4.2 million infrastructure reimbursement to help incentivize the industrial park’s development.

Richard Carlton, whose family owns the property the industrial park will be built on, spoke in favor of the project.

“We have all come together around this Red Rock thing because it is important for us to leave a good legacy down there,” he said. “And we think they’ve come up with a very comprehensive, responsible project for the county and its citizens.”

Carlton, who now resides in Raleigh, added that the family will still “be around” because they will retain 85 acres. Carlton said his family has owned the land for generations, but the time came for them to sell. Commissioners Chair Greg Edds said the county has long been working with the Carlton family and other economic development organizations to market the property for an industrial development.

The requested rezoning was not approved without pushback. Three residents spoke in opposition during the meeting, voicing concerns about increased traffic, the loss of agricultural land and the industrialization of the area.

Megan Johnston said she doesn’t want her family’s newly-constructed home on Long Ferry Road to be near a large industrial development.

“Myself, like many others, consider this a residential area and don’t have an interest in this area becoming industrialized,” she said. “If we were interested in living in that type of area, we would have chosen to live in the City of Salisbury, Concord or another surrounding area like Charlotte.”

Johnston said economic development should focus on already industrialized areas and not undeveloped land.

“There are already many established industrial areas in Rowan County that are either already built and vacant or more readily able to accommodate this type of growth,” she said.

Another issue Johnston raised was not knowing who the tenants of the industrial park will be since the six buildings will be constructed as “shells” and tenants will be secured either during construction or once the buildings are finished.

Leslie Poe Parker, whose family has seven lots along Long Ferry Road, agreed with Johnston’s concerns.

“We have traffic issues, we have noise pollution from the trucking industry there,” she said, adding that her entire family is in “total opposition to this.”

Johnston also said she believes the project will cause traffic problems on the major thoroughfare.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation conducted a traffic impact analysis on the project. According to that study, the industrial park will precipitate significant road improvements, including the installation of traffic lights on both the northbound and southbound ramps at the intersection of I-85 and Long Ferry Road and at the intersection of Long Ferry and Front Creek Road.

Another intersection farther down Long Ferry Road will be monitored for the placement of a traffic light. Several right and left turn lanes will be added to various entrances to the industrial park. A right turn lane starting at the I-85 northbound exit ramp and extending to the entrance to Chewy will also be added.

The county is conducting its own Long Ferry Road corridor study that could lead to future road improvements.

After listing the number of improvements planned for the road, Edds said “Long Ferry Road should be well taken care of.” Edds shared that he will be moving to a house near High Rock Lake and will frequently drive on Long Ferry Road.

“I am putting myself where my mouth is,” he said. “I will be part of this.”

Ward said the road improvements should not only account for new traffic generated by the industrial park but also help fix traffic issues that currently exist on the road.

Corinne Mauldin, who spoke in opposition to the project, wasn’t satisfied with plans to enhance the road. She said turn lanes wouldn’t be enough and that the road “needs a major overhaul of a true four-lane road in order to consider an infrastructure this large.”

Mauldin raised concerns about how the industrial park’s development will impact agricultural property.

“I think you’re not taking into consideration that Rowan County has a very vibrant agricultural base and it’s not just in the western end, it’s down that road as well,” she said.

She then posed a question to commissioners: “If this was coming to your neighborhood, would you sit and vote for this to come to your neighborhood?”

The question was rhetoric, but Vice Chair Jim Greene later responded, saying that “nobody wants economic development beside their house. I wouldn’t like it and nobody else is going to like it.”

But Greene also spoke to the greater good the project will have on the county, specifically citing the tax revenue the project will generate.

“There’s going to be money here that hasn’t been here before and it’s going to take care of a lot of schools, it’s going to take care of a lot of the development that’s going to come in here,” Greene said. “This is no small investment in our community. This is a terrific investment in our community. And I hope that you folks will see how it will improve what we have here.”

Echoing that sentiment, Edds said “industrial is what allows us to get revenue to keep residential taxes low.”

Commissioner Mike Caskey said the county needs to protect farmland over the next few years as the area grows, but that Red Rock’s investment in the industrial park will help the county provide “services citizens need.”

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

email author More by Ben