Balls Creek Small Area Plan Committee Meeting
February 13, 2001

Members present: Chairman, Vance Dalton, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), Nancy Smyre, Robbie Bennett, Janice Morrow, Stanley Stewart, Michael Isenhour, Eddie Barringer and Robert Crouch.

Members absent: Jerry McCombs, Nancy Jo Teague and Mike Rutledge.

Staff present: Mike Dove, Mary George and Rich Hoffman, Catawba County Planning, Mike Legg, consultant for Benchmark.

Other present: Commissioner Barbara Beatty.

The first meeting of the Balls Creek Small Area Plan (BCSAP) Committee began at 7:05 in the Balls Creek Optimist Club. Mr. Dalton opened the meeting. Everyone present introduced themselves.

Mr. Dove introduced the small area planning concept to the committee. He emphasized thinking about the future, how you want the area to develop, what you want to remain and thinking about how to get there. The Small Area Plan (SAP) is for the community and is created by the community. Staff is not going to tell the SAP Committee what to do, but will function as a resource. The job of the SAP Committee is to query the community and find out what the issues are. A draft plan will be created and will be on display for the community to question and change. Then a final plan will go to the Planning Board and then to the Board of Commissioners for final adoption.

Mr. Dove stressed that this is a lot of work and can take up to 18 months, yet if the committee wants to progress at a faster pace, then that can be accomplished as well. The current County's comprehensive plan (which was adopted in 1996), is too generic where the SAP's will allow more individualized planning for different areas in the County.

Mr. Legg described the SAP process. All of the County SAP's will have some similarities. The committee will generate “guiding principles” and then will create recommendations to the Boards. The guiding principles will be the key areas of concentration for the specific SAP (i.e., land use, transit, etc.). Demographics are a good place to start to describe an area. The BCSAP is split between two census tracts which will require making assumptions regarding demographics. Mr. Legg went on to describe some demographics about the area from handouts distributed.
Ms. George gave an explanation about the Strategic Growth Plan (SGP) that was accepted by the Board of Commissioner in 1999 and Vision Quest 2010 (the County's future land use plan). These two plans started out by gathering community input from the inception of the plans. The Small Area Plans is one outcome of the SGP. She went on to explain that part of the SGP was the 2-acre lot size. Growth issues impact services such as public water, school, public sewer, etc. After a specific threshold for developments, then new subdivision lots are required to be a minimum 2-acres. Ms. George went on to describe the capabilities of the Catawba County Geographic Information Systems mapping department. Maps can display various types of information for the committee. She showed a variety of maps displaying different types of information. These maps will be on display for the committee members to use during the planning process. One map showed that there are not a lot of public water lines in the area. There also has not been a lot of major subdivision activity in the Ball Creek area since 1996.

Commissioner Beatty went on to mention that 2-acre lot sizes are a holding pattern and as schools open up and public water lines become available, then smaller lot sizes can be approved.

Ms. George described the area and the impact of Vision Quest 2010. The plan allows for 3-units per acre (in the northern part of the area where there is public water lines), the western part of the area (near Highway 321) is planned for industrial, the Highway 16 corridor is planned for community commerce center. Any request for rezoning in this corridor gets reviewed based on the policies in the Vision Quest 2010 plan.

Mr. Legg told the committee that any current plans affecting the area should be used as a place of reference and that the purpose of the small area plans can be to redefine the area if needed. Therefore, existing plans can be changed. The current housing unit map reveals that a lot of stick-built homes versus mobile homes are evident in Balls Creek.

Ms. George displayed a farmland property map. The map shows a good portion of land in Balls Creek area is used for farming (which entitles it to a tax break). There appears to be more land in the Balls Creek Small Area used for farming than the rest of the County. The Committee will use this information in determining future development densities.

A small part of the southern section of the area is zoned R-1 (which doesn't allow mobile homes), there is some R-3 (which allows for double-wide mobile homes, but not for single-wides). There is also a small C-1 and C-2 zoning districts and some small industrial parcels as well as an airport.

A watershed map displayed shows the majority of Balls Creek is designated WS-II-Protected Watershed. In the early 1990's the State mandated that Counties administer watershed protection for those areas that drain into the drinking supply.

A Flood plain map shows that there are limited areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), as flood plain. Flood plains are areas where development is limited.

An area soils map shows some areas as wetlands and some areas as steep soils (beyond 15% slopes). These areas pose difficulties with developments.

Ms. George emphasized that other maps can be generated depending on the committee needs.

Mr. Legg discussed both the overall County demographics and the Balls Creek area. The County is aging overall. One-third of all people who live in the County work elsewhere. The County is wealthy and has a low poverty rate. The County experiences high retail sales. Since 1996 permits for double-wide mobile homes have grown steadily and single-wide permits have decreased. Permits for stick-built homes have grown more than double-wides. He cautioned the use of the demographic data since it is already 10 years old. The way an area plans to grow is to first create a land use plan and then find ways to provide the needed services (i.e. water and sewer. etc.), not visa versa. He went on to describe the demographics of the Balls Creek area (pages 8-13 in the handouts).

The regular meeting date of the Committee is scheduled for the 1st Monday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Balls Creek Lions Club. The next meeting is set for March 5, 2001.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.