January 27 , 2005
Members present: Scott Rhoney, Chairman, Barbara Hambrick, Tawanna Jarrett, Teresa Lail, Jon Gladden, Terry Bledsoe, Pinkney Hull, Greg Fulbright and Travis Norman
Staff present: John Kenny from Western Piedmont Council of Governments and Mary George, Sue Ballbach and Connie Killian from Catawba County
Chairman Scott Rhoney, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm and welcomed all those in attendance. The committee approved December's meeting summary.
Mr. John Kenny told the group members that he would like to review the draft transportation recommendations they had made at their last meeting. Also, he said that staff prepared a list of their immediate transportation needs which could be sent to the County's NCDOT Engineer, Jackie McSwain. These issues could then be addressed sooner rather than waiting until the plan is adopted next year. The group reviewed the draft recommendations suggested at its last meeting concerning roads and highways in their planning area. They made the following revisions or additions to that list:
The list of immediate road needs, which will be submitted to NCDOT, was then discussed. The Committee wanted to add that the tractor caution sign, which had disappeared several years ago, be replaced on Hwy. 10. This sign was located close to Sardis Lutheran Church's graveyard on Hwy. 10. One of the members explained that the Hood farm located on Old Shelby Rd. about one mile from Hwy. 10 was divided by the road and he felt that another caution sign should be added because this was a hazard. An existing horse crossing sign on Providence Church Road was requested to be replaced with a tractor crossing sign. It was noted that the list from the school bus drivers concerning road problems would also be included in the letter to NCDOT.
Ms. George informed the Board that the Transportation map (Map 7) would be amended to include all the improvements that they have requested.
With completion of the transportation recommendations, the committee moved on to the Land Use section. Mr. Kenny stated that the Land Use and Community Design section is probably the most difficult area that the Committee would have to address. He wanted to start with the current land uses for this planning area. He stated that residential uses and open space occupy the vast majority of land in this area. Most parcels are zoned for residential uses with the bulk of the property falling into the R-2 zoning district. He explained that any types of residential uses were allowed in this district, i.e. stick built, modulars, duplexes and single and doublewide mobile homes. Large tracts of undeveloped land are located throughout this planning area.
Mr. Kenny stated that another issue for the Committee to be aware of is the two watershed designations within their area which limits where development could take place in order to protect public water supplies. He said that all the land north and west of NC Hwy. 10 is located in a WS-III Protected area, which required at least one-half acre (20,000 sq.ft.) lots for each single-family dwelling. He reviewed a map with the members that was given to them previously which showed the watersheds in their planning area. The yellow area shown on the map is a WS-II Protected area for Indian Creek which is a water intake in Lincoln County. This area requires one-acre lot sizes. Ms. George stated that the State mandated the watershed regulations in the early 90s, which the County is responsible for enforcing.
Mr. Kenny informed the Committee that the Plateau SAP included 32,295 acres of land (not including rights-of-way). He stated that 99.1% of the land is zoned residential and the remaining 0.9% is zoned for non-residential uses (commercial and industrial). He said that 228 acres are designated for industrial uses (61% of this land is vacant) and 52 acres is zoned commercial of which 33% is vacant. Residential uses occupy the greatest percentage of land in the planning area, with over 94% of the residentially zoned land being vacant in tracts larger than four acres with a structure on it. Over 14,600 acres are entirely vacant while 15,500 acres are in lots of four acres or more which possibly could be subdivided into two or more lots. With these numbers, the Plateau SAP could see an additional 13,185 acres developed for residential purposes. He stated that these statistics suggested that a large amount of additional development could potentially occur in this planning area.
He said he wanted the Committee to think about ways to preserve the rural character of this area, as this was one of the major themes from the community meeting in November. He informed the group that this was the least developed area in the county and had the most potential for preserving the land and keeping the rural character of the area. He gave them some possible ways to do this, i.e. large lot size requirement, internal access for new developments, buffering along roads, etc. Other suggestions by the group were discouraging additional sewer or water service into the area and larger lot sizes.
There was discussion about how subdivisions should look. Ms. George stated that there are ways to have quantity with quality by putting specific standards in place for new subdivisions. She stated that they would be discussing this at their next meeting.
A question was asked what the largest size lot required to-date was from all the other plans. Ms. George replied that two-acre lots were the largest as of this date. She further stated that all the adjoining plans had two-acre lot designations.
Ms. George announced that an ordinance to establish a voluntary agricultural district program would come before the Planning Board at its February 28, 2005 and to the Board of Commissioners either in March or April. Both these meetings will be public hearings. This is a program that allows farmers to be placed in this district if they so chose and may give them protection from nuisance lawsuits. When a new subdivision is developed, it would be noted on the plat if the development was within ½ mile from an approved district so that potential buyers would know that the land was close to a farm. The plans are to have this program start on July 1, 2005. She stated that there are criteria for farms to be able to be placed in an agricultural district. There will be signs located on the highway stating where land is designated in a voluntary agricultural district. Also, an Advisory Board will be established for this program. She asked the members if they knew anyone (or themselves) who would like to serve on this Board. She told them if they did, that person should contact the county to fill out a volunteer sheet to be on this committee. She said that there is a conservation easement that goes with an application for district designation, but a farmer could pull out of this requirement at any time. Two farms or more could combine to form a district but there must be at least 20 acres for a district to be approved. All those present wanted a copy of the proposed ordinance, so Ms. George stated that she would mail to them before the next meeting.
Mr. Kenny said that he wanted to discuss the land use guiding principles. He stated that guiding principles are typically generalized statements about how they would like to see the area develop. He noted these are only suggestions to be used as a starting point for discussion by the Committee. Under residential principles he reviewed six principles that staff had proposed. The commercial principles included five recommendations. Concerning office-institutional and industrial principles only one recommendation was made for each. In the open space category staff made three suggestions.
Mr. Kenny asked the members to think about these general suggestions and this would be discussed further at their next meeting, which will be held on February 24th. Also, it was suggested that they look at their zoning map to begin to identify areas for future commercial nodes or other places that they would want commercial uses to be located. Mr. Kenny reminded the Committee to try to think of things that might be needed in the future, as the population will grow in this area.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 pm.