Planning and Zoning Board endorses controversial rezoning request
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Facing a room full of incensed neighbors, Troutman Planning and Zoning Board voted 4-2 to recommend approval of rezoning nearly 116 acres off Murdock Road from suburban residential to heavy industrial (HI) for the Troutman Industrial Park.
The board tabled the request after a lengthy public hearing at its October meeting, directing Town Planner Erika Martin to get additional information before a vote to recommend approval or rejection of the project before it goes to Town Council for final consideration.
Adjacent property owners and others in the area of the proposed rezoning were upset that they were not allowed to speak again before the vote. Martin and Board Chairman Layton Getsinger reminded them that the public hearing had been closed at the October meeting and that they would have an opportunity to speak against the rezoning before the Town Council votes on the request.
Regarding environmental concerns expressed in October at the site, Martin contacted the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, which said that its staff enforces and follows federal environmental mandates. The office issues permits related to air emissions, water quality, public utility extensions, stormwater and erosion control.
Some adjacent property owners also raised questions about the possible relocation of Exit 45 off Interstate 77 to connect directly to Murdock Road and its effect on the rezoning.
Martin said that representatives from Statesville and Troutman are only in the beginning stages of determining what possible improvements to the exit might be made. The process could take years.
Board members also asked for information about the percentage of various commercial and residential zoning in Troutman. Martin reported that 88.2 percent of the town was currently zoned residential, with 0.2 percent (17 acres) zoned light industrial (LI), 5.8 percent zoned HI, and the rest in various commercial properties housing small businesses and offices.
Martin said property owner Bruce Murdock has a potential buyer who plans to develop part of the property for LI use but wants the specifics of the project keep confidential at this time.
The developer plans to sell the remaining industrial space to others and desired the more flexible HI zoning to facilitate that process.
Citing the town’s 2035 Town of Troutman Comprehensive Future Land Use Plan, Martin advised the board that the town staff recommended either LI or HI zoning for the property.
Board member George Harris expressed concerns about HI rezoning since noise and other potentially offensive issues could emerge with uses such as a recycling center or salvage yard.
Martin did point out that any business going into the park would have to go through Board of Adjustment scrutiny, which is responsible for appeals, variances, special use permits, and ordinance interpretation.
Board member Randy Farmer expressed his opposition to HI use for the property.
Harris made the motion to rezone the property to HI, which was seconded by Mike Todd. Kenneth Reid and Getsinger also voted affirmatively, with Farmer and Karen Van Vliet voting against the request.
The Troutman Industrial Park rezoning will now go before the Town Council for final consideration.
SOUTH MAIN STREET REZONING
Property owner John Baynes requested rezoning of a little over an acre at 354 South Main Street from residential to commercial use. He wants the rezoning “to allow for versatility in the search for the highest and best use of this property.”
Properties around the proposed rezoning are currently a mix of commercial and residential. Baynes said he may remodel the house on the property for business use and then divide the property into two parcels to accommodate another small commercial or office building.
Another possibility would be to build a four-plex condo or apartment building.
Martin recommended a rezoning change to office/institutional, which would still allow residential use and be more in keeping with the area than a highway business or neighborhood center designation.
After no opposition to the request during the public comment period, Van Vliet made the motion to recommend the office/institutional rezoning, which was seconded by Farmer. The board passed the request unanimously.
ETJ MEMBER VOTE
The ETJ seat remains open after board members deadlocked 3-3 on a motion to reappoint Steve Rimmer to the seat. Board member Lewis Weeks was absent, resulting in the tie vote. The board will take the matter up again in January.
DECEMBER MEETING CANCELLED
Since the board's next meeting date falls on December 25, the board voted to cancel its next meeting. Martin had spoken to several entities with possible requests that needed to go before the board, and all were agreeable to putting the matters off until January 22.