Troutman Council approves two rezoning requests
BY DEBBIE PAGE
At a special meeting on Monday afternoon, the Troutman Town Council held public hearings and unanimously approved two rezoning requests in an effort to further economic development in Troutman.
The first hearing involved the 2.6-acre Autumn Leaf Road property owned by Rick and Lisa Otto, who one year ago requested and received a conditional zoning to Highway Business for the parcel. Now in the process of selling the property, the Ottos sought to expand the conditional uses to metal fabrication to accommodate the new owners.
Town Planner Erika Martin recommended the change as consistent with the Future Land Use Plan.
Nearby property owner Keri Bates approved of the change at a recent neighborhood meeting. The only speaker who voiced concern at the hearing about the change was neighbor Danny Ervin, who wants to preserve the residential character of the rapidly developing area.
Ervin was not opposed to the change but was concerned about “long range planning, which has gone out the window.” Ervin was on the Planning and Zoning Board in the 1970s, when the board felt industry and manufacturing should be between Highway 21 and Interstate 77, with the west side of Highway 21 remaining residential.
“I still think that’s good thinking, and what kind of concerns me is when we don’t look too far ahead,” said Ervin. Citing the large amount of land for sale in the area and the large Falls Cove development expansion about to start across from his property on Autumn Leaf, Ervin said, “I wonder why you would want to start a manufacturing facility in that kind of residential area.”
With all the property available, Ervin suggested a high-end golf course community would be an excellent use of the area. “I just wonder if we are looking ahead. Is it really reasonable to put a manufacturing plant where you’re going to have all these residential homes? Is there really not a better location for it?”
After listening to Ervin’s concerns, the board tabled the vote until the end of the meeting because of some lingering questions about the size of the facility and the number of employees that neither the Ottos nor the new owners the Callards were there to answer. Martin then contacted the property owners to seek answers as the meeting proceeded to other matters.
The council finally approved the addition of metal fabrication to the conditional zoning at the end of the meeting after Council Member Paul Henkel cited Bates’ and the Planning and Zoning board’s approval of the change and made a motion to approve the request.
Before the vote, Council Member Paul Bryant reminded Ervin that the Otto property, as well as the adjacent property nearer Perth Road, was already zoned Highway Business. The only change was to broaden the definition to include metal fabrication. Bryant also noted that the remainder of Autumn Leaf to Highway 21 is zoned residential and is slated to stay so in the 2035 Development Plan.
“It does serve as a good transition between straight commercial to residential,” Martin said of the Otto property.
THIRD WAVE APARTMENT DEVELOPMENT
The council also unanimously approved a rezoning change for an 8.61-parcel, located at Eastway Drive and Winecoff Street, to Central Business to accommodate Troutman’s first proposed apartment complex, The Retreat at Troutman. The properties located within the parcel are currently zoned as Town Residential, Mixed Residential, and Highway Business.
Property owner Lathan Oswalt spoke in favor of the proposed 80-unit apartment development, saying, “I think it would be a great asset to the Town of Troutman, and I recommend the zoning be changed to whatever they are requesting.”
Resident Jim McNiff also voiced his support for the proposed rezoning. “This request would open the way for Troutman’s first apartment project and represents a seminal moment in the forward developmental movement in our community.”
“Multi-family projects, be they apartments, town homes or condominiums, are proving to be vital real estate components for large cities and small towns,” said McNiff. “Multi-family projects help to drive the population density so desirable for current business owners, entrepreneurs looking to open businesses, and those business owners seeking expansion possibilities.”
McNiff cited the synergy between multi-family housing and business as an important economic driver for Troutman.
“Companies and individuals will take a fresh look at Troutman as manifesting both the sort of demographic growth profile that will support new business, and perhaps more importantly, the governmental willingness to embrace growth and new building opportunities,” he said.