Balls Creek Small Area Planning Committee Meeting 
September 5, 2001

  Members present: Vance Dalton (chairman), Nancy Smyre, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), Eric Shook, Eddie Barringer, Phillip Beard, Robert Crouch, and Jerry McCombs. 

Members absent: Michael Isenhour, Robbie Bennett, Janice Morrow, Nancy Jo Teague, Stanley Stewart, and Mike Rutledge.

Staff present: Mary George and Rich Hoffman from the Catawba County Planning Department, Susan Baumann and John Tippett, consultants from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

The meeting of the Balls Creek Small Area Planning (BCSAP) Committee began at 7:02 pm in the St. James Church Fellowship Building. 

Mr. Dalton: Opened the meeting and welcomed everyone present.  The minutes from the August 6, 2001 were approved.

Mr. Tippett: The transportation guiding principle was clarified as follows: “Eliminate hazardous road configurations at area schools and create a smoother traffic flow for parents dropping off students, student traffic and other through traffic”.  This may involve a joint working relationship between schools and NCDOT.  It may be difficult to retrofit existing schools with additional turn lanes, but when new schools are planned it may be easier to include provisions for the increased traffic.  During a schools site plan review is a good time to address this issue.  It was suggested that the committee recommend schools be made to adhere to certain minimum site plan requirements with regards to traffic and impacts on roads and other infrastructure (i.e., water, sewer, etc.).  It was suggested to require a lower threshold than NCDOT currently employs for turn lanes.  Currently NCDOT requires a turn lane when a road has more than 4,000 vehicle trips per day (VTD).  NCDOT only factors in current VTD (for the 4,000 VTD threshold) and does not count the future VTD that will be generated for the new development being reviewed.  

Committee: A suggestion was made to recommend that all new schools provide turn lanes and that existing schools be studied and retrofitted with turn lanes on an as needed basis which would be included in the Capital Improvement Plan.  

Mr. Tippett: Discussed current plan recommendations with regards to transportation. 

Committee: Added a recommendation to widen Bethany Church Road.

Mr. Tippett: Asked the committee to discuss if they wanted to preserve any scenic corridors.

Ms. Baumann: Discussed types of scenic corridors.  There are three levels of designations, local, state and national.  The local level makes the most sense since state or national designations require more regulations to maintain the status.  

Committee: Suggested the following roads for scenic corridors; 1) Murray’s Mill/Buffalo Shoals, 2) East Maiden.

Mr. Barringer: Asked what types of regulations would be in effect.  

Mr. Tippett: Mainly regulations on certain commercial uses, but not generally on residential development.  There is a possibility that a locally designated scenic corridor would be resistant to rezoning requests.

Mr. Beatty: Noted that two ridges could be potential scenic corridors 1) Balls Creek and 2) Providence Mill Road.

Mr. Tippett: Since this is a low density Small Area Plan district, there is little to no walking trails.  NCDOT does consider funding for trails when they are incorporated in an adopted plan.  

Committee: Current discussions involve walking trails from Bandy’s High School to Mill Creek Middle to Balls Creek Campground.  The committee agreed that it wouldn’t be necessary to connect to Balls Creek campground.  

Mr. Beatty: Discussed bicycle routes in the area to include Buffalo Shoals Road, Smyre Farm Road, Little Mountain Road, Water Plant Road, Bethany Church Road, East Maiden Road and Providence Mill Road.  These are existing routes for various bike clubs.  

Mr. Tippett: A bicycle steering committee is being formed.  The recommendations from the BCSAP committee will be included in the steering committee’s plans.  The bicycle steering committee will create a map showing bike routes and roads will be marked for safety (to include traffic counts).

Ideas for using existing rail lines for trails was discussed, possibly linking this to recreation ideas and/or incorporating some commercial development.  The rail route between Newton and Maiden was suggested to be a separated multi-purpose trail for recreation and potential industrial/commercial use.  The committee will discuss this more with recreation topics.

Ms. Baumann: Began a land use discussion.  She referred everyone to the Current Conditions and Trends outline (see attached).  Residential and open space makes up the majority of land in this SAP.  There is very sparse commercial, industrial and office/institutional land.  There are 28,979 acres in this SAP.  

Ms. George:  Stated that the Committee needs to think of the future of Balls Creek in terms of a buildout density scenario.  Based on the amount of vacant land and the recommended densities, calculations will be provided to the Committee on what the future population of Balls Creek would be at build-out.

Ms. Baumann: Highlighted the Guiding Principles that were derived from the community input meeting (see attached).  They include:
1) Residential – the committee agreed. 
2) Commercial – the committee agreed.   
3) Office/Institutional – no ideas were expressed at the community input meeting.  The committee agreed that typical office/institutional should be zoned like commercial (not to differentiate between the two) and that this land use would be appropriate in the Hwy. 16 corridor.
4) Industrial – the committee agreed.
5) Open Space – wanted language to include the “encouragement” of agricultural uses.

Mr. Dalton: Suggested to recommend preservation of farms and/or creation of a farmland preservation district.  These could be voluntary programs to encourage farms to stay in current use.  Farms could receive exemptions to utility tap fees, exemptions from nuisance lawsuits, etc.    

Ms George:  Offered to provide a copy of an open space preservation tool box sheet which describes various land use and fiscal tools available to preserve open space.

The next meeting is scheduled for October 1st at 7:00 pm at the Lions Club. 

The meeting adjourned at 8:55 pm.