Spencer updates land-use plan with focus on development pressure

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

SPENCER — Spencer adopted some updates last week to how it intends to plan its zoning classifications with development coming to town.

The updates comply with the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 160D. The chapter, adopted as a comprehensive update to state zoning law in 2019, requires municipalities to update their plans. Town Planner Steve Blount said the town needed to adopt the updates so it would have sound, defensible policy that could not be easily challenged in court.

Updates to the plan cite three trends to focus the updates on:

  1. More demand for land to be used for manufacturing and distribution.
  2. Demand for housing and high-density residential development related to the increased industrial development.
  3. Attracting young families to the area with disposable income will require the town to add amenities like soccer fields, bike lanes, passive parks and greenways.

Blount told the Post the area is finally seeing the development pressure expected from Charlotte for years, but in Spencer’s case there is development bearing down from the North as well as the Triad area continues to boom as well.

“The comprehensive plan gives direction at a policy level, and while it might suggest a rezoning of things like the North Carolina Finishing Property land, it doesn’t enact anything, doesn’t change the zoning just by the adopting of the plan itself,” Blount said.

Blount said zoning changes would have to go through the process described in the town’s development ordinance. Blount said the town could initiate rezoning, but it would have to go through planning board review and a public hearing.

“Certainly the property owner’s opinion would carry a great weight,” Blount said.

The plan points to a series of properties that are prime spots for development. At the top of the list is the former N.C. Finishing Company site on the Yadkin River. The site also sits at the North extreme town limits and is zoned entirely industrial.

The plan advises the waterfront part of the property would be better-used if it was zoned for a mixed-used development and advises the town should apply a development overlay on the property so it has more influence on its development.

The Fisher Lamb property located North of Hacket Street and the Sowers Farm Property northeast of Steeplechase development have both been tapped as industrial sites.

The plan also points to acquiring privately owned parcels around the Salisbury Avenue connection to Stanback Educational Forest so the town can create a multi-use facility there. The town already owns most of the property.

These are other suggestions for future development in the plan:

• Rezone lots along Salisbury Avenue currently zoned industrial that would be better suited to retail developments.

• Rezone low-density properties running east on the south side of Hackett Street so they can host higher density housing.

• Two plots near Stanback Educational Forest could be converted to residential lots if they are not added to the park.

• Request an expansion of the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction to the include properties to the east of I-85 along Long Ferry Road from Rowan County.

And a series of suggestions on voluntarily annexing some sections in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction so they can be developed:

• Providing logistical support to owners of lots along Hawkinstown Road, west of Seventh Street, encouraging them to recombine and subdivide properties so they can be used for high-density housing. This is in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and the plan recommends annexing the property to connect to water and sewer service.

• The plan also recommends looking for voluntary annexation of property on Hollywood tO Seventh Street to extend water and sewer services to that area for high-density development.

• A section on southwest Sowers Ferry Road, currently zoned for agricultural, with the recommend to rezone to a classification that allows denser development and extend utilities to the property.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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