China Grove’s Main Street study continues, Rock Lane warehouse under consideration

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 13, 2022

By Madeline Wagoner

CHINA GROVE — A plan for an IDI Logistics warehouse was brought before the China Grove Planning Board on Tuesday, along with discussion about how the town can better cater to the community and visitors alike.

November’s town council meeting a week earlier presented the findings of a corridor study that stretches from U.S. 29 (at the new Food Lion) to Coach Deal Road. Priorities focused on pedestrian safety, one-street parking protection and way finding.

Community involvement was the emphasis for the town planners and 77 individuals participated in a survey. The solution process seeks to cater to residents and business owners in the area.

Many comments from the surveys noted concerns of pedestrian safety, such as cars traveling along Main Street too fast and a lack of crosswalks to access shopping on either side of the street. Business owners mentioned the need for more way finding signs to direct business to their stores.

Sidewalk connectivity, crossing amenities and biking infrastructure were discussed since three Rowan County bicycle routes run down Main Street in the town now. The idea is to make China Grove more of a tourist destination and more cyclist friendly by adding details to the asphalt for biker awareness.

The town is developing a concept in preparation for applying for a Rural Transformation Grant worth up to $950,000 through the Department of Commerce from leftover funds from the Cares Act. Franklin Gover. assistant town manager,  completed this process Nov. 1.

“The vision for this was really driven by our conversations with the community,” said Kristina Whitfield, a transportation planner who has been working with China Grove to revise the Main Street corridor. “So concepts will provide that pedestrian safety comments were looking for.”

Another possibility is new uses for in-between spaces at downtown storefronts to provide services such as outdoor dining for restaurants. The idea does not apply to the grant requirements, Whitfield said, but could be considered later.

Banners and an art district were other options Whitfield mentioned for way finding. Signage would be attached to light poles through collaboration with Duke Energy.

The next step includes forming an official China Grove Main Street Association to apply to the N.C. Main Street Downtown Association community program in partnership with the state’s Main Street and Rural Planning Center. Whitfield says this would “leverage the resources that were there” to kickstart changes.

“There are 4,500 or so people in China Grove and 77 chose to participate in the survey,” council member Steve Stroud said. “I hope we all keep that in perspective when we consider this going forward. That’s 77 people, that doesn’t necessarily mean all of China Grove want the same thing. Hopefully we’ll get more participation as the process goes forward.”

Mayor Pro Tem Arthur Heggins said he already has a vision for the concept of a transformed Main Street.

“We appreciate all the effort that you’re (Whitfield) doing because we want our town to have this experience and this opportunity,” he said. “I think the plan itself is something that’s great because so much conversation comes up over what we would do downtown.”

In other discussions:

• The China Grove Planning Board made a unanimous decision Tuesday to recommend the rezoning request for a light industrial warehouse. The 2.2 million square foot IDI Logistics location at Rock Lane is currently part of Rowan County’s jurisdiction on 148 acres of property behind the existing Altec warehouse near the shuttered Hitachi Metals plant. Light industrial projects are classified as having limited nuisance, all inside work and limited dust pollution.

The focus is coming up with conditional uses to ensure compatibility with residents of Timberfield. A class A 30-foot buffer is provided between the proposed rezoned property and Rock Lane residential homes in the Timberfield developments. In comparison to IDI Logistic’s location in Buford, Ga., with a 200-foot buffer, it is a question to whether it is possible to increase the vegetation border that separates homeowners’ properties from the parcels requested.

According to Lisa Arnold, planning consultant working with applicant Tom Hardy’s rezoning request, the 30-foot buffer meets the required limit in the unified development ordinance for China Grove. However, with a road being so close to rural residential property, some voiced concerns in a public hearing about property values and cleanliness from dust when it came to settling a new location at a heavy-trafficked area. With construction, another traffic circle is also proposed to be installed between the Macy’s project across the road and the Timberfield homes.

Hardy said that the new facility would include modern design.

“I’d like to see every effort made to provide another outlet,” said planning board chairman David Morton upon observing the number of vehicle outlets compared to other IDI Logistics locations. “It’s also up to negotiating with other property owners.”

When it comes to traffic studies in the area, Morton advised that it may be something for the town board to consider.

“At this point, we recommend that we’re just shooting a dart. We don’t know what we’re recommending,” he said.

• The China Grove Community Center will be hosting a two-day discounted CPR course for $39 that will provide American Heart Association certification. The dates are Tuesday  and Thursday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 412 S. Myrtle Ave. Mayor Charles Seaford will also provide on-site training. Advance registration is required. Email or contact Michael Moon at 404-548-7752.

Individuals must attend both days for certification.