Kannapolis delays development approval again — for entirely different reason this time

Published 12:10 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

KANNAPOLIS — After months of delay on approval of a zoning request based on a question of whether or not the developer could be required to tie in to the city sewer system, the city council Monday night changed directions and now appears to be asking the developer to change his zoning application entirely to a different zoning level.

Kannapolis has been mulling the decision to approve a rezoning request from Jack McKinley for Trinity Church and Stirewalt roads that would allow the construction of a new housing development.

McKinley is requesting around 35 acres be conditionally rezoned in order to make room for 56 single family homes to be built. Planning Director Richard Smith previously recommended to council that they approve the request because it is consistent with their 2030 Comprehensive Plan, is compatible with surrounding zoning, won’t affect roads and won’t have an impact on the environment.

Smith pointed out that the recommendation from the planning board is just that, a recommendation. A number of residents in the area have expressed objections to the proposed development, and have said delays are a good thing.

Until this week, the city council had attempted to find a way to require property owner and petitioner Jack McKinley to tie into both city water and sewer, despite the fact that McKinley proposed using, at least in the short term, an independent sewer system.

In mid-March, the council delayed making a decision because council still needed additional information concerning the alternative septic system proposed by McKinley. The one McKinley suggested is a block panel septic system, an effective but expensive network that looks like cinder blocks with the septic going from a pipe into the section of sealed blocks that are put together. He has also repeatedly said he would tie in to the city’s sewer lines if that could happen quickly enough to suit the development timing, but if not, he wanted to move ahead with the septic system.

At Monday night’s meeting, the city council decided to again delay making a final decision on the matter until May 22, when there will be a public hearing about the application for the development under a different zoning regulation.

The initial proposed rezoning request was to change the property to the zone R4-CZ, which requires a lot width of 75 feet and allows density of four units per acre. Council member Doug Wilson brought up the possibility of considering an R2-CZ for the development, which has a lot width of 100 feet and density of two units per acre. The setbacks for R2 are also bigger, meaning the number of lots would decrease by two or three. In addition, the council noted that under an R2 zone, McKinley would be able to use any system he chooses, despite the fact that just recently, Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant said, “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.”

“In my opinion, the R2 probably suited the whole situation better than R4 conditional…It still has to be voted on…I personally felt more comfortable with a type of zoning that was not conditional, it was straightforward,” Wilson said.

Petitioner Jack McKinley said he believes the ruling is “another delay tactic by the city.” He has been expecting a resolution since he filed the initial application in October.

“It’s always a positive thing for a rezoning request made to council to happen quickly, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Certainly in rezoning there is no timeframe on which council has to act, if at all,” City Attorney Walter Safrit said.