China Grove extends time for zoning approval for projects to October

Published 12:10 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

CHINA GROVE — China Grove’s Town Council met Tuesday night for discussion involving the rezoning of property for a housing development. However, the approval of these plans has been moved to Oct. 4 instead of Sept. 12 as council members voiced their need for more time to evaluate plans after hearing community members’ concerns.

The council room was packed with residents of China Grove, spanning from Timberfield individuals to those who live on Mount Hope Church Road. The room was filled to the point where many had to stand in the back or sit in in the lobby of town hall.

“I’m sure there is going to be some good questions that will be asked of us,” said council member Don Bringle. “Today is the sixth, and six days later we’re going to be voting on the annexation. I’m not comfortable with that.”

Ellis Development Group applied to request a zoning map amendment for 269 single-family units in a subdivision with a total of approximately 140 acres. A maximum of three units could fit into an acre, but the surrounding homes are to be on larger lots than what is proposed in the development. The location is at Mount Hope Church Road, Menius Road and Eva Lane in China Grove.

Further plans include approximately 35 acres of open space for amenities, a playground, a park and a nature reserve. According to the staff report put together by Assistant Town Manager Franklin Gover, rural residential districts are meant to preserve  the rural feel while offering larger lots.

Students of the area would be sent to China Grove elementary and middle schools along with Jesse C. Carson High School, according to “Find my school” on the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s website.

Salisbury-Rowan Utilities would provide water and sewage for the area. Ellis Development Group also plans to submit a traffic survey of the area to NCDOT.

The courtesy hearing with the planning board was on June 14 for the property, which was then brought to the board for consideration. The project includes open space, and the homes wouldn’t have vinyl as the primary material but could be used for accessory details.

After Gover’s report, the public hearing was opened to residents and many took the podium for a three-minute chance to voice their opinions.

Many had concerns about storm runoff that would impact Town Creek, which runs by Mount Hope Church Road.

Chris Boardman, the first to speak at the hearing, calculated the runoff with a method that uses rainfall density and catchment to predict flooding. To his calculations, it would be 10,000 gallons a minute that would flow into Town Creek rather than supply ground wells in the area.

“You’re not doing anybody a favor with this development,” he said. “We understand and know the conditions in which we live in.”

More concerns involved overpopulation of the area, specifically in schools.

“This 270 housing development, so each house has two kids,” Cassie Conaliey said. “That’s 500 and so many kids. Where are they going to go to school? Our schools are already crowded. Where do we expect them to go to school?”

She said the community wants a small town feel that seems like it is going away due to so much housing development. With an increase in traffic to the area, overpopulation worried some residents about safety when it came to fires and crime.

Karen Barbee took the podium with a personal connection to share.

“I have some major concerns,” she said. “Eva Lane is a private road. I think this (zoning project) should be renamed Mount Hope Church Road project because Eva Lane has nothing to do with it. Eva was my grandmother and the road belongs to my first cousin, so it is a private road. There will be no granted access and that’s why the one way entrance and the one exit is. Nobody wants this development to come in so they’re not granted access.”

She said she had a police background and reflected on the dangers of having so many people in one development. Barbee said that with heat, people tend to argue, which would raise crime rates.

“If you had a police officer tied up at that development and you had something happen at the south end of China Grove, you have two police officers working at that time,” she continued. “If somebody needs help, it’s going to take a while to get to them.”

The China Grove Town Council unanimously agreed to take comments and concerns into consideration and re-discuss approval in October