South Main Area Plan community visioning session has residents ponder present, future

Published 12:10 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Planning and Neighborhoods Department invited local business owners and stakeholders to its South Main Area Plan community visioning session at the city hall council chambers on April 25 to explain where the project that is concentrated between Mooresville Road and Horah Street currently stands and the direction it’s going in.

Community Planning Director Hannah Jacobson made a statement in the beginning of the meeting referencing the shooting that occurred at the 1200 block of South Main on Wednesday night and how sessions like these can actually be a part of the healing process. 

“I thought to myself, is this appropriate? Should we be moving on having this meeting? Then, I thought to myself that these types of meetings, these types of plans are the best way that we, as a department, know how to wrap our arms around a neighborhood and embrace it and think about the future perhaps being a little bit brighter,” Jacobson said.

City Planners Emily Vanek and Malikia Cherubala led the meeting together and guided citizens along with Rowan County, city, and even Concord employees, to share their thoughts and opinions on the kind of path the South Main Area Plan needs to take. 

Staff discussed the history of the corridor, existing conditions, zoning and rezoning and possible outcomes for the plan. 

Last month, Salisbury had a community walk where people walked down South Main and recorded what they observed and desired to see implemented. The information the city found out from the walk was that participants revered the buildings and architecture and that they envisioned public art and connectivity to the region. The obstacles that were mentioned involved maintenance issues, speed of traffic and lack of destinations. 

Staff also asked attendees to list what they believe to be South Main Street’s biggest assets, challenges the project faces, and goals for the future. 

The assets included mixed-use buildings as well as the sidewalks and trails, while no crosswalks and little lighting were perceived as the challenges. The goals people wrote down were that they value additional businesses, a unified streetscape and zoning reform. 

Velveeta Hairston, owner of Hairston Funeral Home on South Main Street, came to the meeting because she has a vested interest in how everything turns out and to give her opinions on the matter. Improvements Hairston would like to come to that segment of Salisbury are better lighting and more greenery. 

“It’s a lot of thought processing that we should think about how we want the area to look, especially with the residential section and the business section connecting in those areas and how they’re going to look years from now,” Hairston said. 

At the end of the meeting, staff fielded requests from people for them to sign up to be members of the project’s focus groups in order to contribute to the final plan. In the coming months, there will be further engagement sessions as the planning and neighborhoods department continues to flesh out the plan. The goal is for the final draft to be completed by the end of the year.