Planning board recommends rezoning that would allow electric motorsport shop expansion

Published 12:05 am Friday, June 21, 2024

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Planning Board recommended a zoning change that would allow for the expansion of an electric race-car shop in northern Rowan County.

The owner, Andreas Eriksson with Perand USA, said that he applied for a rezoning from Rural Agricultural to Commercial, Business, Industrial with a conditional district because the building is currently a non-conforming use and in order to expand the building he would need to bring it into compliance with county ordinances.

The property is currently permitted for the warehouse to act as an auction house, with planning staff calling it an allowed rural home occupation. The property was sold to Eriksson at some point in 2020 or 2021, who then moved his electric motorsport shop into the area from Mooresville.

“It was a good place to be because it was a little more quiet and calm. I wanted to get away from the craziness, because my business, it really needs to be nice, clean. Everything thing that I’m doing is image, it needs to be representable,” said Eriksson.

Several nearby residents spoke at the planning board meeting, with one speaking in opposition to the rezoning and two speaking in favor of it. Luther Lyerly, who operates the properties to the east and south as farmland, said that while he has not had a problem with the current owner he did not want an industrial area directly in his family’s backyard. Lyerly called the proposal spot zoning and said that he was worried about future owners of a CBI-CD property disrupting the multiple Voluntary Agricultural Districts nearby.

Robert Sarno and Kip Jennings, who both live nearby, spoke at the meeting in favor of the rezoning. Sarno said that he was in favor of allowing Eriksson to expand because he has been a good neighbor, saying that the electric car shop created a green usage of the building and that the business had never bothered him. Jennings was the owner of the auction house and sold Eriksson the land.

“I don’t have a problem with this. This area when I grew up, 10 years old, they called this area no man’s land. I built a house there, I took a chance, and I’ve been there 22 years, I ran an auction in that building for 22 years, I’ve never had a problem. That area is growing,” said Jennings.

Several of the planning board members, including Timothy Norris and Jerry Davis, said that their concern was not with Eriksson and his business, but with what usages would be allowed under the CBI-CD if Eriksson ever sold the property.
“This is the type of small business we love to see in Rowan County, it’s clean. We tell folks we want growth in Rowan County, we want to look for things like this to bring to the community. My only fear on this, is this gentleman decides not to move forward with this after we approve the CBI and somebody else puts something in there that’s worse,” said Davis.

The members asked if a Special Use Permit, which would only allow for the electric race-car shop, would be possible to allow for Eriksson’s desired expansion. Senior Planner Shane Stewart, who presented the staff report, said that an SUP could be used to bring the business into conformity, but it could not be used to expand the building.

Planning board member Sean Reid noted that everyone who simply lived nearby had spoken in favor of the rezoning. He also pointed to an earlier point from planning board chair Karla Foster Leonard, who said that farms fit more into a business category than residential.

“They’re saying he’s a good neighbor. Can you blame somebody if I’m wanting to make it conforming and he has the support of his neighbors, who are residential? And to Karla’s point, the one who was against it, he’s a business. If it was a residential, high-density area, those two landowners seem like they would be the ones complaining. And, based upon the years of owning the land, I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. So who would be the true victims of the expansion, even if they expanded further?” said Reid.

At the end of the discussion, the members of the planning board voted unanimously to recommend the rezoning with the condition that Perand USA pave Jenny Drive, which is currently gravel, from the Old Union Church Road intersection to its driveway.
The planning board’s vote is not final. The request, along with the recommendation, will be submitted to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for the final vote.