Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning Committee Meeting April 27, 2000

The Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning Committee (SFSAPC) held its fifth meeting on Thursday, April 27, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. in the media center of Sherrills Ford Elementary School. (The meeting was rescheduled from the regularly scheduled meeting date of Thursday, April 20, 2000 due to the Easter holiday.)

Members that were in attendance: Ed Nolley- Chairperson, Glenn Hunsucker, Ed Neill, Paul Beatty, Helen Sides, Cathy Weaver, Jerry Beatty, Bryan Harvey, Doug Howard, Clyde Sigmon, David Stewart, and Keith Gabriel. (Members not present were Charles Thomas and Mark Sigmon.)

Staff present: Mary George and Richard Smith. Mike Legg of Benchmark, Inc. was present as our contracted consultant.

Also present were five citizens from the area and one reporter.

Mr. Ed Nolley welcomed and introduced Mr. Keith Gabriel as a new member of the Committee. The Committee approved minutes for the February 17, 2000 and the March 16, 2000 meetings.

Mr. Mike Legg passed out an outline to assist in structuring the plan for this area. He explained that this was just a skeleton guide to assist the group in the processes of planning. Mr. Legg briefly discussed the surveys that had been mailed to the group members and thanked the group for participating.

Mr. Nolley told the group that he had passed out seven copies of the survey to citizens of this area. He said that he had received some interesting feedback on these surveys and had received every one of them back. He proposed to the group the idea of devising a shortened version of a survey similar to this one to distribute to the public (church groups, Lions Club, etc.) in order to get their feedback. Mrs. Helen Sides brought up the question about duplicate surveys. Mr. David Stewart recommended that placing the name on the survey be a requirement of filling one out to avoid duplicates.

Mr. Legg stated that he could compile this group's results first and then send out a condensed survey for the Committee to consider. Mrs. Sides asked about including renters in this survey as well as property owners and making it a requirement that the people that fill out the survey be at least eighteen years old or older. The group felt that renters should be included and that age requirement should apply. The point of passing out this survey to the public is to help with the possible issues that may arise at the public hearings to be held at a later date. Mr. Nolley asked the group for any suggested changes to this survey. Mr. Ed Neill suggested including current issues such as sprawl and growth management. The Committee expressed support for the idea of distributing a condensed survey to the public. Mr. Legg stated that he would devise a condensed survey and bring it to the next meeting for the group to review.

Mr. Legg introduced the picture project and explained that the point of this exercise was for the group members to get an idea of things that they would like to see more of and less of in this area. There were seven members who returned their cameras in time for this meeting. These participants were asked to divide their pictures into categories of good and bad and tape them to poster board to present to the group.

Mr. Nolley presented his pictures to the group first. He stated that things that he had photographed that he saw as good was landscaped subdivision/development entrances, screening along highway for manufactured home parks, and open space areas or the “country look”. Some things that he observed as being less appealing were high-density apartments (like those on Highway 150 travelling toward Mooresville), hodgepodge manufactured home development (specifically one off of Highway 16 travelling toward Newton), signage (like the landscape truck parked on the edge of Highway 150), and manufactured homes that were too close together. Mr. Nolley stated that there seems to be too many signs in this planning area. Mr. Glenn Hunsucker commented that the group should look at doing sign standards like those on Harris Boulevard in Charlotte near Interstates 77 and 85. The group also thought that it might be a good idea to consider adopting sign regulations in this area similar to those adopted for the Highway 321-corridor area. Mr. Clyde Sigmon commented that he would like to see more preservation of trees in this area, especially hardwoods since they have a longer growth process.

Mrs. Sides presented her pictures to the group next and stated that environmental, wildlife, and human effect is her focus of concern. She stated that there needs to be a balance that allows for growth, but still considers the impacts on these groups. She said that she did not mind mobile home parks if they had well groomed entrances and adequate restrictions that encouraged an appealing atmosphere. She said that there was a park near Newton that was well screened and seemed to have restrictions that made it pleasant to look at. She emphasized that when possible, it was best to make use of natural screening. She emphasized that a single entrance to strip malls and multi-tenant areas was a good aesthetically. She pointed out that on the negative side, junk vehicles were a health hazard and that trash in the front yard areas could endanger wildlife. She also pointed out that abandoned store structures should be put to better use, instead of left standing to just deteriorate. She added as a final note that lighting on some properties could have negative effects.

Mr. Neill came forward and told the group that he was against mobile homes and for the village concept. He gave the example of Cline Plantation near Hickory and how it modeled a concept that could be used in this particular planning area. He said that the village concept had many positive traits such as the ability for the residents to walk to schools and stores. He said that mixed-use developments were a plus because they eliminated the need to get in the car every time a resident had a need for something. He said that developers should be encouraged to donate school sites, but that the sites should be useable. He noted that with these villages or mixed-use areas, there could be more of an allowance for open space in this area. Mr. Neill stated that the biggest problem that he has with mobile homes is the way that they are treated for tax purposes. He said that he just does not feel like an owner of a mobile home pays their fair share of property taxes. He also noted that he felt that hodgepodge mobile home placement was a negative attribute. He gave the example of mobile home parks on Highway 16 and on Highway 70 near Hickory and the problems that law enforcement has had with them. He showed pictures of abandoned mobile homes, sewage and discharge problems, and unpaved roads in mobile home parks. He emphasized that the main reason he is against mobile homes is because of the tax valuation issues that he noted earlier. He said that this caused him to be against mobile homes in every shape and form and that for this planning area they should either be eliminated totally or the area that they may be placed reduced drastically. He said that he did not like that 90% of the County was still zoned to allow for mobile homes. He added as a final note that he also did not like the removal of large oak and other hardwood trees.

Mr. Jerry Beatty presented his pictures to the group. He emphasized that open space was a positive factor. He said that open space should be preserved for future generations. He also stressed that agricultural and farm uses should be protected and encouraged. He gave the example of the horse farm located on East Maiden Road as being an appealing site for this area. He said that scenic views, especially near lakes and mountains, should also be planned out.

Mrs. Cathy Weaver presented her pictures to the group with an emphasis on open space and farmland. She said that protection of wildlife and protection of wildlife areas and parks should be considered in the plan for this area. She pointed out that this area was lacking park facilities and that they were needed for children and for recreational uses. She said that mixed-use areas were attractive and easy to get around in. She said that sidewalks were a positive because they permit and encourage walking and running. She gave the example of Smyrna Place and said that entry level, affordable (starter) site built homes should be encouraged in this area. She said that landscaping should be promoted and stripping trees should be discouraged. She also said that the group should consider increased setbacks on major roads in order to allow for future road widening. She gave the example of a parking lot that she knew about that was now located in a right-of-way.

Mr. Stewart presented his pictures to the group and said that he really liked curbing and guttering in subdivisions or at least valley curbs. He said that he also thought that the group should encourage open space and scenic mountain views in their plan for this area. He said that littering and junk cars need to be cleaned up in this area. He said that the County needs more code enforcement people. He said that other negatives were tractor-trailers in residential developments and residences used for businesses. He also said that mobile homes scattered around stick-built homes were not appealing. He gave the example of a singlewide that he bought years ago that was no longer useable, but a house that a relative of his had bought at about the same time was still livable and used as rental property.

The group made other general comments after hearing these presentations. Mrs. Sides suggested having incentives for homeowners to avoid littering. She said that instead of policing or code enforcement, maybe a different accountable approach could be taken. She said that homeowners' associations are something that works. Mr. Hunsucker said that he agrees with Mr. Neill that the 90% zoning area that allows for mobile homes should be cut down. Mr. Sigmon he just did not see how this group could tell someone outright that they could not put a mobile home on their property.

Mr. Doug Howard asked if the group could define a certain area in this planning area in which mobile homes could be placed and Mrs. George told him that this could be done. Mr. Neill recommended that the group could possibly set a percentage of mobile homes that could be placed in this planning area, similar to watershed options that allow a certain percentage of an area to be over the allowed impervious ground coverage. The group said that a smaller area that allowed mobile homes would probably be good and that where mobile homes or mobile home parks were allowed, they should have their own road and should not be located directly off of a main road. They said that mobile home parks or subdivision with adequate restrictions were better than mobile homes scattered about on family land and near other site built homes.

Mr. Neill pointed out to the group that all the issues that the group has discussed entails infringing on rights of property owners, whether it be with signs, mobile homes, etc. Mr. Neill stated that the building industry needs to step up to assist in providing affordable housing.

Mr. Keith Gabriel discussed the Town of Huntersville's requirements and said that they were restrictive, but that the end product was a great result. He requested getting copies of Huntersville's ordinance as an example. He suggested that the group conduct a field trip exercise to Huntersville or Davidson to observe the results of their ordinances.

Mrs. George told the group about the Planning Conference coming up in Raleigh on May 18th and 19th. The group was given an information sheet on this conference. Mrs. George told the group that the date of this conference conflicted with the regularly scheduled meeting date on May 18, 2000. The group decided that the next meeting date would be changed to Thursday, May 25, 2000 due to this scheduling conflict.

The group also decided that the subject of the next meeting would possibly be the field trip to the towns of Davidson and Huntersville. There was enough interest from the group to do this activity, so the time for this field trip was set for 4:00 p.m. tentatively, with the meeting time set at 7:30 p.m. If the field trip could not be scheduled, then the group decided that they would meet on May 25, 2000 at the regular meeting time of 7:00 p.m.

Mrs. George went over the Transportation Enhancement Program information that is being offered by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. She explained the overall project and categories and suggested that the group consider applying for these funds using a possible project in this planning area. Murray's Mill and the Terrell area were mentioned as possible areas to consider for this program.

Mr. Nolley asked Mrs. George if she would explain to the group the zoning map and the breakdown of the individual zoning areas for this particular planning district. She explained each of the zoning districts and pointed them out to the group on the map of this planning area.

Mr. Nolley told the group that Planning Director Roy Crawford would be leaving the County on May 26, 2000. He told the group that he was not sure if Mr. Crawford would be at the next meeting of the Committee prior to his departure.

Mr. Nolley adjourned the meeting.