Mountain View Small Area Plan
Committee Meeting – April 23, 2001


Ms. Pitts called the meeting to order at 6:15 p.m.

Members present: Debbie Pitts (Chair), Larry Johnson, Paul Fleetwood, Jeanette Ringley and Wade Scronce.

Members absent: Steve Von Drehle

Staff present: Mike Dove, Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department, and Dee Blackwell from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).

Minutes from the last meeting were approved.

Mr. Dove reviewed the draft policies with the group.  He said that what he sees the group covering at this meeting is a review of these policies with recommended changes and also a review of these policies on a map.  Ms. Pitts asked what the procedure would be to get the plan put into place.  Mr. Dove said that part of his recommendation, as he is departing, is that the current Zoning Ordinance should be totally rewritten.

Mr. Blackwell said that there were exactly one hundred policies that were recommended by the group.  He reviewed the maps with the group.  He reviewed the four land use areas that are covered in this particular small area planning district.  Mr. Johnson asked if part of this area was included in the Hickory By Choice study area and Mrs. George indicated that it was.  The locations of several subdivisions within this district were identified on the proposed land use map.

Mr. Johnson asked about the high-density designation for this area and asked if the vacant parcels for this area were identified.  Mr. Blackwell said that it was calculated and there is 11,000 acres that is vacant.  Mr. Johnson said that what he was getting at was the amount of high density that is actually vacant.  Mr. Blackwell said that 5,200 acres of this falls into the high density area.

Ms. Pitts clarified that on a 10 acre tract, at 2.5 units per acre, there could be 25 units.  Mr. Dove told her that this was correct.  Mr. Blackwell elaborated that this was not really high density because it is not very dense, but that it is a higher density for this area.  Ms. Pitts pointed out that Hickory is allowing 4 units per acre and Mrs. George said that this was in their less intense areas.

Mr. Johnson brought up questions about the dividing lines for their land use districts and the actual criteria that was used to determine this.  Mr. Blackwell said that it really comes down to the group if it’s going to be conservative with the areas that are identified or not.  Mr. Johnson said that he was just concerned about what the public perception would be.  He said that the land use lines need to be defined more definitely so that the group can feel comfortable explaining this to the public.

Mr. Johnson asked about the effect of the density requirements would have on existing subdivisions.  He said that, for instance, Homestead has a few vacant lots left in it that probably would be afforded the ability to be developed as they stand.  He said the lack of infrastructure in this area is going to cause growth to be minimal. 

The group pointed out on the land use map where they thought the separation of the proposed land uses should be.  Mr. Blackwell noted the changes on the map as the group indicated.  Mr. Dove said that it would be best and he recommended that the districts be denoted in a manner that works around the properties that are already developed.  He said that this would be easier to explain to the public when this proposal is discussed.

Mr. Blackwell pointed out the proposed greenway areas on the land use map.  He asked the group if this was what they had in mind and they indicated that it was.  Mr. Blackwell reminded the members that this greenway should not be confused with the bike routes that would be covered on the transportation recommendations.

Mrs. George asked the group what they had decided on the rural space.  Mr. Blackwell referred to policy recommendation #47.  He said that he did not think that the group had decided on any standards and Mr. Dove said nothing other than mandatory clustering provisions was discussed.  Mr. Dove said that one thing that the group could do is identify one area (the green area) as 50% open space.  He said that the open space requirements could be made more restrictive.  Ms. Pitts said that many citizens are indicating that they are getting tired of the County dictating to them how many homes they can put on their property.  Mr. Johnson said that he thought that this was good because it made it easier for neighbors to get along.  Mr. Blackwell said that the size of the lots is the Litmus Test, not the ownership. 

Ms. Pitts asked how the southwest portion of this area was identified as rural conservation.  Mrs. George reminded the Committee that they identified this area as rural conservation which was taken from the Strategic Growth Plan.  The group briefly discussed mandatory clustering provisions and their effect.

The group determined that the southwest area would be low density and nothing more restrictive.  Mr. Blackwell said that this calls for three land use areas now: high density, low density and mountain protection.  The group discussed protecting Baker’s Mountain, or as Mr. Blackwell said it was referred to by the Geological Survey as Baker Mountain.  The group wanted to know how was best to protect the view shed for the mountain.  Mr. Dove said that the best solution would be for the County to purchase this property.

Mr. Dove said that there are two recommendations that would be best for the group to make in order to protect the mountain.  He said that they could create a protective view shed and encourage the County to purchase it.  Mr. Blackwell had the group to prioritize the tracts in the order that they thought would be best for the County to protect.  Mr. Dove indicated that the larger tracts can be the ones that the County gets financial assistance from the State and other agencies to protect.

Mr. Johnson said that an interim policy of some type should be put into effect in order to avoid anything happening before this plan is actually implemented.  Mr. Blackwell said that the group could request the Commissioners to act quicker on such a plan because it has been done in other areas.  Mr. Dove said that the group should have something a little more concrete to act on otherwise it could make a contentious property owner more contentious and likely to react against such a regulation.  Mr. Johnson said that he saw the need to move cautiously, but that he did think that the group should act quickly on these guidelines.

Mr. Blackwell moved the discussion to the transportation recommendations and reviewed the map with the group.  He pointed out the intersections that were identified by the group as needing signalization or some type of roadway improvements.  He asked the group if there were any intersections that they felt like had been identified that may not be shown on the map.  The group identified an intersection as needing improvements near Bethel Church Road and Hwy. 127. 

Mr. Blackwell then identified the bicycle routes that the group had recommended.  Mr. Johnson asked about any roads that were recommended for widening to four lanes and Mr. Blackwell said that only Highway 127 South had been identified for this.  Mr. Dove pointed out that the existing airstrip should be reflected on the transportation map.

Mr. Blackwell asked the group about their support for a new interchange on US Highway 321 at Sandy Ford Road.  The group indicated that they thought that this was a needed interchange.

Mr. Dove reviewed the inventory map and current conditions maps with the group.  He explained that these maps would be provided to the members and would be included in the overall plan.  He said that one other item that the group needs to consider is the location of future schools or public facilities.  He recommended that for “homework” the group read through the proposed policies.

Mr. Blackwell asked the group for clarification on some policies that were stated at past meetings.  He asked the group to mark these specific statements and to let him know at the next meeting exactly what they were recommending.

He also told the group that they would need to decide what their specific recommendations would be in regards to manufactured housing, cultural resources, public facilities, and natural heritage.  Mr. Dove said that the draft policies should be more detailed before the next meeting, even if it means missing a meeting so that this can be completed.

Mr. Johnson said that he thought that the area should be zoned to allow one particular residential use, but then the owners could be allowed to request to change back to a use that would allow something that was not allowed in this district.  He thought that the group wanted to have all districts not to allow manufactured homes, and then when someone wants this type of housing they would have to take it through a certain permit or change of use process.  Mr. Dove said that he understood the concerns of the group about manufactured housing, but he did not think that a “blanket” policy would work.

Mr. Blackwell said that one way to approach this would be to raise the “bar” of standards for manufactured housing subdivisions.  Mrs. George said that she did not think that you could single manufactured housing subdivisions out with different standards than site built subdivisions.  Mr. Johnson said that the concern that he hears a great deal is that people think that manufactured homes depreciate their property if they are located on an abutting tract.  He asked if the County still allows singlewides.  Mrs. George told him that they are allowed in the R-2 Residential zoning district which is what the majority of this area is zoned.

Mr. Blackwell said that what the group may want to get back to is to identify existing subdivisions that are more exclusive and use this as a starting point.  The group recognized that this issue would need to be addressed before their plan was finalized.

Mr. Dove said that staff would go back and map all of the single-family subdivisions and then look at this for consideration to rezone these areas.

The subject of the next meeting will mainly be housing.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 21, 2001.

Ms. Pitts adjourned the meeting at 8:27 p.m.