Rezoning request saga will be up for a vote again at Kannapolis City Council meeting

Published 12:06 am Sunday, April 23, 2023

KANNAPOLIS — Monday night’s meeting could potentially see the Kannapolis City Council settle an ongoing dispute with a property owner who has applied for a rezoning request to build a new development near the intersection of Trinity Church and Stirewalt roads.

The rezoning request has been tabled by city council members twice — once in February and then again in March.

Jack McKinley, owner of the property, said he thinks council members are “holding my request hostage” because he refuses to give up his right to have an alternative septic system. McKinley said the city is trying to strong-arm him into agreeing to connect his development to the city sewer system by repeatedly tabling his rezoning request until he agrees. McKinley insists his rezoning application is consistent with the city’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan “Moving Kannapolis Forward,” which provides guidance to the city’s decision-makers regarding land development.

Darrell Hinnant, mayor of Kannapolis, has said the reason for the delay is that Cabarrus County is “tight on sewer capacity” and officials are trying to find other solutions. Hinnant said council members would prefer for the property be connected to the city’s water and sewer lines, but it’s going to take some time.

“Our difference of opinion is we don’t think he should be talking about septic tanks, we think he should be putting sewer at the location and as a result of that we don’t want him to put septic tanks in. We have been trying to get him to commit that if he can have sewer available to him in a reasonable period, would he commit only to use sewer instead of septic tanks,” Hinnant said.

McKinley has said he would use the city’s sewer if it were available, but he doesn’t want to have to wait because he has his own septic tank system. He said the city is trying to require him to use city sewer and because he won’t agree, they won’t approve his request.

“I’m not going to wait that long. The law is on my side. If I’m ready to go and my project gets rezoned and I’m ready to go in six months, there’s no reason for me to surrender my right to due process, which is the law, then I can use that law that says I can use septic tanks,” McKinley said.

He is citing North Carolina Statute 130A-343 “Approval of On-Site Subsurface Water Systems,” which states that the septic tanks McKinley wants to use are legal.

McKinley also points to an exchange between Hinnant and Walter Safrit, the Kannapolis city attorney, which he views as evidence that the city is trying to find a way to make him use city sewer.

According to transcripts McKinley sent to the Post from the March 13 Kannapolis City Council meeting, Hinnant asks Safrit: “Is there a way that we could require that he commit to water and sewer even if it took a year period of time before the allocation was available?”

Safrit responded: “Well, that’s the unique problem that we have right now from the standpoint you would need to require him to — you could have a contract by agreement you could do that certainly, but if you’re requiring that, that is a legal problem that I’d want to discuss with council.”

“I am not, under any circumstances, surrendering my right to use septic tanks. That’s not going to happen. If they have allocation for me, yes I will use it. But if they don’t have allocation for me, I’m going to go a different route, which is the law,” McKinley said.

Hinnant emphatically denies that he and the council have been holding McKinley’s rezoning request hostage.

“That is absolutely false. We have been working and working and working. The reason it has been postponed again was because I have been pushing to see if we can find some other decision that all of us could agree with and council agreed that we should make one more attempt to see if we can find a solution that Mr. McKinley and us can agree upon,” Hinnant said.

The rezoning request will be discussed and voted upon at the upcoming city council meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m.