China Grove approves a special-use permit for property on U.S. 29

Published 12:07 am Thursday, December 8, 2022

A triangular lot in China Grove that once housed a junkyard full of old cars could get a facelift.

The China Grove Town Council approved a special-use permit for the property owner to open an auto service and sales business on the premises.

The property is 0.7 acres and sits at 1108 U.S. Hwy. 29 South.

After expressing interest in redeveloping the existing site, Petra Vallican Rodriguez requested the special-use permit.

According to China Grove’s assistant town manager, Franklin Gover, this is the first project utilizing the city’s reuse provisions.

Per the city’s codes, the reuse provision is designed to encourage revitalization when meeting current building standards could be physically impossible or cost-prohibitive. The idea is that it is better than those sites becoming vacant, abandoned or deteriorated.

The code is specifically for buildings that predate August 2006.

The city’s unified development ordinance permits certain uses within each zoning district. In addition to those uses, the ordinance allows some conditional uses through special-use permits. Those permits are intended to ensure compatibility with the surroundings while keeping the purpose of the general zoning district.

Some conditional modifications that the city can request include parking, screening, landscaping, and hours of construction, development and operation.

“(Nearby) Cotton Mill Village is zoned town residential,” Gover said. “The subject parcel is zoned highway business. The property due south is also zoned highway business and has a conditional use permit stemming from the 2000s for used auto sales. Parcels on the opposite side of the highway are zoned light industrial.”

The current owner has taken steps to clean up the previously run-down space.

“You can see the drastic difference the property owners have made on site,” Gover said. “All the old junk cars have been removed, and the building has been painted.”

Gover indicated that the business would primarily be a repair and tire shop with the ability to sell automobiles. Those offerings would include routine maintenance, standard servicing, and light mechanical and brake jobs.

The building has three bays and an upstairs apartment. The property owner didn’t know if they would use the apartment, but they could use it or rent it out.

The council raised concerns about junk cars on the premises getting out of hand, but the assistant town manager indicated that China Grove likely had sufficient mechanisms on the books to address the issue.

“We were asked to study the accumulation of junk cars,” Gover said. “I think we could use the town’s existing abandoned and junk car ordinance.”

The new plans have included 14 parking spaces. The city council agreed that for the permit to go through, they would request that the bulk of any repair work take place inside one of the three bays unless it was something minor, like changing a windshield wiper blade or a battery.

“The old place was a junk hole,” China Grove town council member Steve Stroud said. “I’m glad it’s gone, and I don’t want to let it happen again.”

With so many residential properties nearby, the board also sought to address hours of operation, ultimately requiring that it only be open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

During the meeting, China Grove Mayor Charles Seaford remarked that he wanted to see the business in the space flourish.

“We will support them any way we can,” Seaford said. “The only way for us to be successful is for our businesses to be successful.”