SHERRILLS FORD SMALL AREA PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING - JULY 19, 2001

Members present: Ed Nolley (Chairman), David Stewart, Cathy Weaver, Glenn Hunsucker, Helen Sides, Doug Howard, Paul Beatty (Planning Board liaison), Ed Neill and Jerry Beatty.

Members absent: Mark Sigmon, Clyde Sigmon, Bryan Harvey and Keith Gabriel.

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

Mr. Ronnie Robinson, a citizen from this area, also attended this meeting.

Mr. Nolley called the meeting to order at 7:11 p.m. He told the group that he was concerned about the pace of the meetings and wanted to try to do better in this area. Mr. Jerry Beatty said that he thought that the area along Sherrills Ford Road was going to be 1000 feet, instead of mile. Mrs. Sides said that she recalled this also. Other group members said that they did not remember changing this, so Mr. Nolley asked the group to vote on the matter to make it a certainty. The concern of the group was creating a "stripping" effect along Sherrills Ford Road. Mr. Stewart motioned to make the distance of a mile, Mr. Hunsucker seconded and the motion was approved unanimously. The minutes from the last meeting were approved with this noted change for the area along Sherrills Ford Road.

The next item on the agenda was the request from Bridgewater Company, LLC to consider a five-acre tract at the corner of Kale Road and Long Island Road for the location of a Neighborhood Commercial node. The group discussed this request and the fact that it would be a good attribute for this area with the number of lots that are being created in nearby subdivisions. The group felt that an allowance for residential uses with commercial uses should be in their plan. Mr. Neill motioned to include this particular area as a Neighborhood Commercial node, Mrs. Sides seconded and the group unanimously approved this update to their plan.

Mrs. George reviewed a request from another company, Drum Funeral Home, to possibly locate a funeral home on a seven-acre tract on Sherrills Ford Road near the elementary school and fire station. Mr. Jerry Beatty said that he thought that it was incompatible with this area because of the potential traffic problems that it would create. He said that he also thought that this could have a negative effect on the students at the school because of the distraction that it could be. Mr. Stewart asked Mrs. George what other type of uses would be allowed in the office-institutional district (O-I) and she went over these with the group.

Mr. Robinson said that he lives across from this proposed site and that he thought that if this were approved, then the County would be setting a trend for this type of use and Mrs. Sides said that she agreed with this point. Mrs. Sides said that she thought that the group did not want commercial/office-institutional uses all of the way up Sherrills Ford Road.

Mr. Howard asked if the request for such a proposal as this would always be allowed once the plan for this area was set in place. Mrs. George explained that the plan could be amended, although this was not something that we would like to see happen. Also, as was earlier indicated, the Plan will be reviewed every five years to address changing conditions. Mr. Neill said that he thought that there should always be a process for such requests to be heard by the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners. Mr. Beatty said that he did have a personal interest in this matter because he owned the adjoining property. Mrs. Sides made a motion to not recommend a non-residential node at this location. Mr. Stewart seconded this motion and added that there are other areas in this planning district that allows such a use. The group approved this motion unanimously.

Mrs. Weaver asked if the old zones, like the C-3 in this area, were going to continue to be allowed in this area. Mrs. George said that if the group felt that these were no longer appropriate, then they could recommend changing them.

Next, Mr. Smith updated the group on the most rezonings that had taken place in this planning area. He informed the group that the Board of Commissioners had approved the request for the 20.75-acre tract on Highway 150, one-half mile east of the intersection with Highway 16 to be rezoned from R-2 residential to C-2 Commercial.

Mr. Howard told the group that he had a personal bias in this situation, but he felt like this was not unreasonable because much of this area was commercial and of a mile east and west of this major intersection did not seem as an unreasonable commercial center. He made the group aware that he did have a personal interest in this and would gladly abstain if they thought appropriate. Mrs. George said that the Commissioners did caveat this approval by saying that they did not want to see Highway 150 stripped and would like to see some desirable development standards adopted for this area. Mr. Paul Beatty said that he was not sure how the group would set up development/appearance standards for this intersection that would be enforceable. He said that the group did not want to see another commercial site in this area like the one near the Iredell County bridge across from the Stutts property. Ms George informed the Committee of standards adopted for the Hwy. 321 corridor which address driveway connections, buffering, signage, etc. She said she would provide a copy of the ordinance to the Committee.

Upon further discussion of the matter, Mr. Nolley said that by consensus the group was accepting to expand the regional commercial center along Highway 150 in both directions. This was represented on the working copy of the map was marked to indicate this. Additionally, this would be subject to establishing development standards for the corridor. The area south on Grassy Creek Road was also discussed as being possibly commercial, but the group decided that this would not be feasible since the area along Highway 16 in this area is located in Lincoln County. Mrs. George reviewed the residential zoning districts for this area and the types of housing that are allowed in this area. She reviewed the housing issues that had resulted from the telephone surveys and other discussions held by the group.

Mrs. George pointed out that manufactured housing was not a big topic at the Community Input Meeting, but that it was an issue on the telephone surveys. She said to qualify this though, the group should consider that the telephone survey did specifically ask questions about manufactured homes.

Mr. Nolley then asked the group their concerns about housing for this area. He asked Mr. Neill how he gained support to rezone the area in, around, and including his property to R-1 residential. Mr. Neill said that part of what helped this request and caused there to be so much support was that so many manufactured homes were being placed in the area. He said that he thought that manufactured housing was somewhat of a "scam" industry and gave an example of a developer stating that he made more money off of repossessing these types of homes than he did by selling them. Mrs. Sides said that she thought they most of the manufactured homes in this area were rental units.

Mrs. George explained how the Tax Office treats these types of homes. She told the group that the Mountain View Small Area Planning Committee has discussed these very issues and she reviewed the outcome of their discussions and what their recommendations were for their planning area. She emphasized to the group that they should be able to justify whatever rezoning changes they would make. She said that the group should be able to explain these changes to the public and to the Board of Commissioners.

Mr. Stewart asked if the group could rezone the R-3 properties in this area to R-1, similar to what Mountain View was recommending. Mrs. George said that the group could recommend this if they had a good basis for recommending it.

Mr. Howard said that the areas where the two-acre requirement was suggested by the group might should be considered for rezoning to R-1 because he did not see the feasibility or likelihood that someone would place a singlewide on property that was this size and would also possibly be affected by the impact fees that the group had discussed.

Mr. Neill asked if the group could rezone the area to only allow doublewide manufactured housing, but not singlewides. Mr. Nolley said that he liked Mr. Neill's suggestion of rezoning the rest of the area to R-3. Mr. Hunsucker said that he liked Mr. Neill's suggestion too and he agreed with Mr. Stewart's suggestion to rezone the R-3 properties to R-1.

Mr. Neill moved that R-2 zoning be removed from this area and would be changed to R-3, Mr. Hunsucker seconded this motion. Mr. Howard asked if this could be amended to include a provision that allowed one singlewide manufactured home per five-acres or some other amount of acreage. Mrs. George said that a provision could be written that when a tract that is, for instance, five-acres or more in size on or before the date of the adoption of this plan, then a singlewide could be placed on it provided they receive a permit prior to the rezoning. Mr. Neill said that he has a problem with the tax issues for this type of housing and he believes that this industry is a predatory industry. Mr. Stewart said that he agrees with and supports Mr. Neill's stance on this issue.

Mr. Neill emphasized that we are surrounded by low-wealth counties that are getting State funds that this County does not receive. Mrs. George suggested that the group address affordable housing because this would be brought up if singlewides were prohibited in this area.

Mr. Hunsucker said that he hosted a group of people from Africa and they commented about singlewides and could not believe that people lived in them. Mr. Stewart said that he used to live in a singlewide, but he thought that modular homes were what the industry should be prepared to move toward and away from singlewides. He said that singlewides just do not hold their value.

Mr. Nolley asked about the motion that was set forth by Mr. Neill. The group approved this motion unanimously, with Mr. Howard abstaining. Mr. Nolley said that the next step would be to designate areas on the map. Mr. Neill said that the way the law is written, he feels like the group has done its job of allowing manufactured housing because of the R-3 areas being allowed. He said that he could justify this change by the tax values in this area and the affect that manufactured homes have on adjoining property values. He said that he thought that there should be equal taxation and protection of property values and manufactured homes do not allow for either of these. Mr. Howard asked for clarity on the replacement of existing singlewides and the group said that replacement should be allowed where there is an existing singlewide based on the current requirements. Mr. Neill said that before the meeting ended that he thought that the corridors should be designated as R-1 on the working map. Mr. Paul Beatty asked about the existing R-3 and if it should be changed yet. The group decided to leave it as R-3 right now. Mr. Neill asked about existing vacant lots in a mobile home subdivision and Mrs. George said that they would not be grandfathered. Mr. Neill said that he did not think that this would be fair and it might be more feasible to abut these tracts with R-1 zoning, but that existing mobile home subdivisions should be identified.

Mrs. George recommended that the members drive this area before the next meeting and have in their mind what exists and what they would like to see changed. Mr. Neill said that he did not understand why existing lots could not be grandfathered. Mrs. George said that the only way to do this would be for the owners to pull a permit on the property before the change was enacted.

Mr. Howard said that he agreed with Mr. Neill's idea to allow existing mobile home subdivisions to remain as such because typically stick-built homes are not built in subdivisions that allow manufactured homes also or already has them located there.

Mr. Neill asked for a map of R-1 buffers 1000 feet along both sides of the following roads: Murray's Mill Road, Sherrills Ford Road, Joe Johnson Road, Mount Pleasant Church Road, Hopewell Church Road, Little Mountain Road, Lineberger Road, Mount Beulah Road, Monbo Road, Balls Creek Road, Long Island Road, Kale Road, Beatty Road, Molly's Backbone and Hudson Chapel Road.

The next meeting date is scheduled for Thursday, August 16, 2001.

Mr. Nolley adjourned the meeting at 9:24 p.m.