Planning board recommends rezoning for 60-acre business park

Published 12:06 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Planning Board recommended a rezoning on Tuesday that would allow for a 33-lot business park to be built in southwestern Rowan County.

The request was actually composed of three separate requests, a rezoning from Rural Agricultural to Commercial, Business, Industrial with a conditional district; a special non-residential intensity allocation for the development to exceed the maximum built-upon area; and a planned development subdivision with 30-foot setbacks between the lots instead of the standard 50.

Those three would combine to allow the applicant, Florida-based Sunwest Construction, to build the approximately 60-acre business park on the 100-acre property located at the intersection of Wilkinson Road and West N.C. Highway 152.

Included in the site plans was approximately 40 acres of common open space, which contain stream and drainage features, wetlands, two proposed stormwater ponds, three off-site septic fields and landscape or screening areas.

Robert Lyons, a manager with Sunwest, said that the company was planning to add rules about construction requirements to a property-owners’ association covenant for the business park. He mentioned several specific rules that the covenant would require which included that owners spend at least a certain amount on landscaping, build stone-masonry buildings, follow the county’s directions for signage and not have outside storage of materials. The main thing that the company wanted to ensure, Lyons said, was that the park be well-maintained and have a consistent image throughout the 33 separate properties.

The special non-residential intensity allocation, or SNIA, is required because the property is in the Coddle Creek Watershed and would allow the company to build over the typically-allowed 12 percent. Rowan County Senior Planner Shane Stewart, who handled the request, reported to the members of the planning board that the request totals 61.4 acres, which is the largest request the planning department has received to date.

The planning department typically recommends that a maximum of two acres be taken out of the county’s available watershed acreage, but that the number can be exceeded with no upper limit if the increase in tax base or amount of jobs created was deemed worth the loss of extra space.

To satisfy the tax base requirement, Stewart said that planning staff recommended that a condition be implemented that would require minimum building sizes. The recommended minimum was 5,000 square feet for lots sized one acre or smaller, 8,000 square feet for lots of 1.5 acres or more or 10 percent of the total lot size.

“We think this is a tremendous increase because farmland is very low from a tax perspective and we’re going to increase it a whole lot. We’re happy to abide by the sizes with regards to the buildings that have been proposed because we know that this is a finite resource that y’all have to give and Shane impressed on us that you want to make sure that you get the most use of that resource,” said Lyons.

The planned development subdivision, or PDS, would allow the developer to use smaller setbacks at 30 feet than the typical 50 feet within the development. The PDS would not apply to the outer edges of the property where the normal setback rules would still apply.

A member of the planning board, Jerry Davis, and a nearby resident, Tim McGowan, both raised concerns about rubber manufacturing being an allowed usage within the business park, with Davis calling rubber very “dirty.”

Lyons said that the main point of the usage allowance was not to allow for rubber manufacturing, but instead for plastics, which was under the same category.

“With regards to rubber manufacturing, that isn’t super important to us, but plastics might be to somebody. We don’t want to try and limit ourselves, but we don’t want any dirty manufacturing. We want to make sure it’s clean,” said Lyons.

Planning board member Tyler Wiethorn said that one of his main concerns was McGowan’s property, which was situated directly beside the proposed business park. Wiethorn asked Lyons for a condition that would require him to work with McGowan to provide McGowan’s desired type of buffer and see if a larger one was necessary for him to be comfortable, to which Lyons agreed.

Lyons noted that the company plans to build on half of the properties themselves and then sell the other half and that he has already had at least eight people approach him with concrete offers, some of whom spoke at the meeting about their desire to move their existing businesses into the park.

“I’ve done business with (Lyons) in the past, and everything has been first-class. I’m very confident that what he says is accurate. He’s probably even understated in regards to landscaping and everything else. Most importantly, I’m here because I have huge interest in moving my company,” said Charles Lewandoski, president of ChaLew Performance, which is currently based in Mooresville.

As part of the process, Sunwest also had a traffic study performed that found that both a right-turn lane and a left-turn lane would be required on either side of the road for the park entrance. The study also found that there was inadequate room for tractor-trailers to turn at the intersection of Wilkinson Road and Highway 152, so the company plans to acquire an approximately 5,000-foot right-of-way to expand the intersection

At the end of the discussion, the members of the planning board voted unanimously to recommend the rezoning, the SNIA and the PDS to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. The planning board’s vote is not final as the request will be submitted to the commissioners during a meeting in August for the final vote.