Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning Committee Meeting – May 16, 2001

Members present: Ed Nolley(Chairman), Doug Howard, David Stewart, Cathy Weaver, Glenn Hunsucker, and Jerry Beatty.

Members absent:  Mark Sigmon, Bryan Harvey, Clyde Sigmon, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison, Keith Gabriel, Helen Sides and Ed Neill.

Staff present: Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department.

Mr. Nolley called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. and the minutes from the last meeting were approved with no changes.

Mr. Nolley said that the first item to review was the Mountain Protection District.  Mrs. George reviewed the latest edition of the land use map with the group.  She pointed out that the village district included the Terrell area and over 700 acres of property near the intersection of Highway 150 and Sherrills Ford Road. 

Mr. Hunsucker indicated that he thought that the area coming into Catawba County from Iredell County on Highway 150 should not be zoned industrial.  He said that with the gateway concepts that the group has been discussing, it seems better to have something with less of an impact.  He said that he thought that the steam station (Marshall) was probably not the most desirable thing to have as the first thing that people saw when they enter the County.  Mrs. George said that additional setbacks on Highway 150 might be the best approach to achieve protecting a visual corridor in this area. 

Mrs. George then presented recommendations that the Balls Creek Small Area Planning Committee was making regarding widening roads and other transportation improvements.  The group discussed the intersection of Highway 150 and East Maiden Road and the concerns with the danger of it.  The group wondered what the NCDOT plans were for the new Highway 16 and where it meets East Maiden Road.  They were curious as to whether the State would plan to have an interchange with East Maiden or just an overpass.  This will not be an interchange but will be an overpass.  The Committee also agreed to widening of E. Bandys Cross Road.

Mr. Nolley asked the group if ½ mile back from the lake area was too far back for the area identified for having ¾ acre lot density.  Mrs. George reviewed the other areas identified by the group for the benefit of the members that were not able to attend the last meeting. 

Mr. Beatty asked how the corridor along Highway 150 could be protected.  Mrs. George said that the group could come up with some corridor development standards for this area such as additional setbacks, buffers and access control.

The group briefly discussed the location of schools and the impact that this has on transportation and other things.

Mr. Beatty asked about the designated open space that the group had discussed previously.  Mrs. George said that this is one of the topics that the group was going to discuss at tonight’s meeting.  Mr. Nolley said that this was definitely a topic of concern and he referred to the latest controversy surrounding the Town of Davidson’s proposed requirements for open space.  Mr. Howard said that he thought that this was a valid requirement, but he said that there should be reasonable standards set.

Mr. Stewart let the group know that he had visited the village concept project in Florida that Mr. Neill had mentioned to the group.  He said that this was quite an amazing project in regards to how it is laid out.

Next, Mrs. George turned the group toward the topic of the Mountain Protection District.  She said that she had comments from Mr. Neill regarding this topic.  Mr. Howard asked what specific requirements the group was looking at for this district.  Mrs. George said that tree preservation, imperviousness, maximum building heights, and standards along those lines are what the group had discussed previously for this district.

Mr. Howard said that he knew that Mr. Neill and Mr. Beatty both had many concerns regarding this topic and were not here, so it may be best to wait until they were able to participate in this discussion.  The consensus of the group was that the discussion of this topic should be moved to the next meeting date in order to allow Mr. Neill and Mr. Beatty the opportunity to interject their comments.

The next topic of discussion was the Agricultural/Conservation District.  Mr. George pointed out the areas on the map that the group had already identified as ones that they would like to protect.  Mr. Howard asked if keeping the two-acre requirement in tact for these areas was an example of achieving this and Mrs. George affirmed that this was the case.  Mr. Beatty said that he agreed with this concept, but he did not want to give the impression that the group was taking away from the property owners in these areas and giving it to the owners along the lake.

Mr. Beatty said that what he really did not want to see happen was for the property values to suffer because of these requirements.  Mr. Howard said that this was also his concern because some of the guidelines that the group was going to recommend could have a huge impact on individual property owners.  Mr. Beatty said that the concept that he was always taught was that farmers should treat their land first as an investment and secondly as a farming tool.  He said that these guidelines could have such a tremendous impact that they could be seen as a taking of land.  He said that if a property owner gives up part of his land, then they should be compensated for this. 

Mr. Howard said that he has struggled with the effect that this plan is going to have on property owners.  He said that he has talked to property owners on Highway 150 and asked them what they thought would happen to their land.  He said that the majority of the owners indicated to him that this area would eventually be totally commercial and that the residential uses realistically would not remain residential.

Mr. Stewart said that he thought that the two-acre density for the Agricultural/Conservation District was probably sufficient.  The group seemed to think that this would probably be a good requirement right now, but indicated that this should be flexible for consideration later to possibly change if it seemed that this was not working or infrastructure was constructed.  Also included would be buffering along roads and clustering of development.

Mr. Beatty said that he thought that the group should still consider implementing some type of Transfer of Development Rights provision in order to help property values remain somewhat the same.  Mrs. George reminded the group that this was still being considered by the legislature, but it is an idea that more and more jurisdictions are looking at.

Mrs. George gave the group an idea of the concepts that the Mountain View Small Area Planning Committee had devised.  Mr. Nolley asked if the density requirements could be tied to the availability of water and sewer.  Mrs. George told him that this could be done.

The group discussed the concept of clustering and how this helps to achieve open space and density.  They also pondered whether or not a policy should be considered that allowed a higher density along the major roads, but the areas off of these roads would be kept to more rural standards.

Mrs. George asked the group if they wanted to continue to include the impacts on schools in the equation for the allowable densities.  She told them that the Mountain View group had decided to lift this requirement.  The group indicated that they wanted to keep schools in the equation.  Mr. Nolley asked if impact fees had been ruled out and Mrs. George said that this was still an option.

Mr. Beatty emphasized that he thinks that there should be some kind of tool put into place that assures that if the property near the lake that is allowed to develop at a higher density and is given a higher property value, then the owners that are in the areas where the density is not as high should be compensated for their property not having as great of a value.  The members said that they understood the concept, but they did not know what policies could be implemented to assure this.

Mr. Hunsucker said that the fact is that the effects of the policies that this group recommends will increase some property values more than others, but the end result for the group is to be sure that these overall policies have a positive impact on this planning area.  Mr. Nolley said that the majority of the citizens that filled out the surveys that the group conducted owned less than five acres of land in this area.

The group indicated that they thought that a higher density should be allowed in areas that public infrastructure is available.  The group again discussed whether or not the ½ mile distance along the lake was too great of an area to allow a higher density.  They requested that the distance be revised to ¼ mile off of the lake with 30% open space so they could review it at their next meeting.

They also decided that ½ mile of width along the roads which has infrastructure, such as Sherrills Ford Road, would be designated as an area that lots with higher density could also be placed.  Mr. Hunsucker said that he thought that corridor protection standards should also be placed on Sherrills Ford Road.  These standards would include 30% open space and setback buffers.  He said that if someone meets the buffer requirements on one of these roads, then the lot size could be as small as one-half acre.

The group decided that the remainder of the area should be held to the two-acre standards with 30% open space as indicated earlier.  They decided that the minor subdivision would still be allowed using the five-lot threshold, but they added that the five lots could be done on existing State road frontage or on a newly built road.  This would help to avoid the “stripping” of State roads with driveways if a developer were willing to build a road. 

Mr. Howard brought up the issue of nonconforming uses and asked the group how they felt these types of uses should be recognized in this plan and how it would be zoned.  The group said that these types of uses would need to be looked at because of their existing uses. 

Mountain Protection and housing will be discussed at the next meeting.  Mr. Nolley again expressed his concerns about the lack of attendance at these meetings.  He asked the members to encourage those that were not attending to come because of the importance of what the group is discussing.

Mr. Smith asked the group if they thought that the area residents would be interested in a Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) link here.  The group indicated that they thought that this would be good to have and that it would be used frequently.  Mr. Smith told them that a survey would need to be conducted in order to get this service.  The group said that they would support whatever efforts were put forth.

Mr. Smith also reminded the group that two rezoning cases in this area were set to come before the Planning Board on Monday, May 21, 2001.  The group discussed both of them at a previous meeting.

The next meeting date is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2001.

Mr. Nolley adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.