Catawba Small Area Plan
Committee Meeting for December 9, 2003

Members present: J.V. Huffman Jr. (Chair), Lanny Hartsoe, Margaret Garrison, Todd Clark and Jeff Murray.

Members absent: Dean McGinnis, Trent Cloninger, Ricky Young, Jerry Setzer, Glenn Pattishall, Christopher Niver, Linda Moose and Charles Connor III.

Staff present: Mary George and Rich Hoffman from the Catawba County Planning Department, Anthony Starr and John Kenny, consultants from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).

Chair Huffman called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM in the Claremont City Hall. The minutes from the November 11, 2003 meeting were approved.

Mr. Starr discussed the draft plan recommendations for the Community Facilities and Public Service section. The committee agreed to edit page 10 to read, "Work with municipalities, YMCA, and churches to develop after school and summer programs..."

Mr. Clark told the committee that the Town of Catawba had recently sold its wastewater treatment plant to the City of Hickory. In the agreement Hickory will provide a waterline from I-40 to the Town of Catawba.

The committee also wanted to add language recommending the extension of water and sewer lines to Fox Hollow and Farmwood subdivisions and to specify that areas that are prone to well and septic tank failures should have priority for water and sewer expansion.

Mr. Kenny then discussed the draft plan recommendations for the Economic Development section. He suggested adding a section to the Current Conditions/Trends discussing two economic development initiatives: Foresight and Future Forward. The Future Forward process will allow the 12-member counties to apply for economic development grants focusing on more distressed areas. Currently a $500,000 grant is in the application phase.

Other changes to the recommendations included substituting the language "business/light industrial" for "office/institutional" as the uses for the proposed business park at I-40/Oxford School Road. Also recommended was to add language requiring sidewalks and access management within the business/light industrial park. The committee also noted that "mixed uses" should be allowed in the neighborhood commercial nodes.

The committee then reviewed the Natural Resources section. It was noted that information on the County's Natural Heritage Inventory will be added to the Current Conditions/Trend section. The committee commented that the greenway recommendation from the transportation section should be included in this section also.

Ms. George explained the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), which would allow development rights to be transferred from an area where you are trying to preserve low density to an area where you have designated increased density opportunities. Pursuing TDR is already in the Plan recommendations and the committee agreed with the idea and wanted to work with the cities on potential receiving zones where higher density would be more applicable. It was thought that we need special legislation for TDR, but the consultant working on our Unified Development Ordinance feels as though we can currently apply TDR in the County.

Ms. George discussed the concept of a Voluntary Agricultural District ordinance. This ordinance would allow farmers to apply for designation as an identified farming community. This allows the public the opportunity to be aware of the farming activity in the area and they can then decide whether to reside in these areas. This can help alleviate nuisance lawsuits against farmers. The committee liked this idea and made this a recommendation of the Plan.

Mr. Starr and Ms. George discussed the watershed requirements and the 10/70-bonus permit option. Commercial development is limited to 24% or 36% (with curb and gutter) built-upon area if a parcel is within a State-mandated watershed. The State also allows local governments the ability to grant a waiver for 10% of the area within the watershed to be developed up to 70% built-upon area (as opposed to 24% or 36%). The committee liked the 10/70-bonus permit option and wanted to add it to their recommendations.

Staff then reviewed the format for the upcoming second community input meeting, which was scheduled for January 13, 2004. Fliers were handed out to help advertise the meeting. Staff challenged each of the committee members to personally invite ten people to the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 PM.