St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning Committee Meeting 
October 17, 2001

Members present:  Mike Williams, Todd Miller, Cliff Isaac, Mack Stafford, John Robinson, Larry Brittain, Ira Cline, John Cline and Jeff Kerley.

Members absent:  Anne Barrier (Chairperson and Planning Board liaison)

Staff present: Mary George and Richard Smith from the Catawba County Planning and Community Development Department, Randy Williams and Anthony Starr from the City of Conover, and John Tippett and Susan Baumann from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG).

Mrs. George called the meeting to order at 7:07 p.m.

Minutes from the last meeting were approved as submitted.

Mrs. George started the group discussion by reviewing the zoning district designations for Catawba County.  She reviewed the zoning for their planning area.  Mr. Ira Cline asked about the amount of area that allows manufactured housing and Mrs. George explained that approximately 90% of the county is zoned R-2, which allows manufactured housing.  Mr. Brittain asked how these types of homes are taxed and Mrs. George explained to him that doublewide homes are taxed the same as site-built homes (real property), but singlewide homes are taxed as personal property.

Mr. Mike Williams asked about the actual difference in values for these dwellings and Mrs. George explained that singlewide homes generally depreciate, whereas site-built homes typically appreciate.  Mr. John Cline said that this does not seem fair to the taxpayers who own site-built homes.  Mr. Ira Cline pointed out that when the State assists someone that is on welfare with purchasing a home, they do not assist them in purchasing manufactured homes. 

Mrs. George pointed out to the group that there has been a substantial decline in the number of permits issued for manufactured homes in Catawba County.  She gave the group a handout that explained the 1996 Manufactured Home Appearance Criteria that was adopted by the Catawba County Board of Commissioners.  She reviewed this with the group and highlighted the key points of these guidelines.  Mr. Tippett explained that these guidelines forced many of the adjoining counties to adopt similar provisions in order to avoid an influx of these homes into their communities.  

Mr. Miller said that he thought that this group should identify certain areas that could be developed for affordable housing.  He said that with curbing and guttering requirements and other similar restrictions, affordable housing couldn’t be achieved.  Mrs. George reviewed a map with the group that depicted the residential zoning classifications for this area.  

Mrs. George reviewed the commercial districts with the group and identified these on the zoning map.  She handed out a copy of the use chart from the Zoning Ordinance and briefly went over it with the group.  

She then gave the group handouts that explained the watershed protection regulations for the County and reviewed these areas on a map.  Mr. Brittain asked if the imperviousness included gravel areas and Mrs. George explained to him that it did.  She told the group that they should keep the watershed areas in mind when they are identifying areas for non-residential land use designations.  Mr. Ira Cline asked why the whole County was not identified as being in a watershed and Mrs. George explained that the areas illustrated here were those areas regulated by the State Watershed Act.  The group also wondered why there was not more watershed area near Lake Hickory.  Mrs. George explained that the watershed boundaries were based on the location of public water intakes.  She noted that Lake Hickory’s intake is at the Hwy. 321 bridge so the entire lake was not included as this is “upstream.”

Mrs. George explained the recent buffer guidelines that the State enacted for areas along the Catawba River and main stem.  Mr. Stafford brought a copy of an article from The Hickory Daily Record that talked about someone that had violated the buffer requirements along the Catawba River and was being forced to replace it.  

Mrs. George then reviewed with the group the requirements for developing a subdivision within the County.  She explained the categories of major, minor, and family subdivisions and the requirements for each of these types of subdivisions.  She gave the group a copy of the sliding scale standards from the Zoning Ordinance and explained these requirements to them.  She clarified that the 2-acre lot size requirement in the County is not an automatic requirement, but is based on many factors such as school capacity and public infrastructure availability.  Mr. Miller asked if once the group’s recommendations were made, would these requirements change.  Mrs. George explained to him that this was the understanding, but the recommendations would be submitted to the Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners in a pubic hearing format.

She reviewed the recommendations that were being made by the Mountain View Small Area Planning Committee.  She explained that this particular group’s recommendations were to establish residential densities throughout their planning area and these were to be in effect regardless of the school capacities.  She reiterated that the Board of Commissioners would ultimately take action on the plan.  She told the group that one thing that has been discussed by the Sherrills Ford Small Area Planning Committee was impact fees.  The group briefly discussed the issue of schools being overcrowded.

Mrs. George explained to the group that part of their outcomes would be to make recommendations on the land uses within this area by identifying them on a land use map.  Mr. Brittain said that he thought that the property owners in the low-density areas would be carrying the brunt of the tax burden as compared to the high-density property owners.  Mrs. George told him that the same argument was made when the watershed rules were adopted, but to her knowledge this has not been the case.

Mrs. George gave the group a copy of the VisionQuest 2010 Plan future land use map and reviewed it.  She explained how the Plan was used for rezoning requests and the various policies that are contained within this plan.  She referred to the Strategic Growth Plan and told the group that a copy of this document is available for review on the County website.  She explained that this plan was accepted by the Board of Commissioners.  She informed the Committee of a rural conservation area surrounding the Riverbend  Park which was shown in the plan.  She told them that this information could be used in determining their residential densities.

Mr. Ira Cline said that he did not understand the reasoning behind where the new schools are being built or proposed.  Mrs. George said that this is not always done based on high-density areas, which seems to be the better approach.

The group discussed a particular tract on Highway 16 that had a sign advertising that it could be developed as a manufactured home subdivision.  Mrs. George clarified to the group that this lot is located where public water and sewer is available from the City of Conover.  She explained that the Subdivision Ordinance requires connection to public infrastructure if it is available.  The City of Conover requires for any tract that is connected to their water and sewer to be annexed into their jurisdiction and their zoning would not allow for manufactured housing in this particular area.

She told the group that the next step in the process is for them to identify the types of land uses for this area and that this would take at least the next three meetings to cover.

Mr. Mike Williams asked Mrs. George to explain nonconforming uses to the group and she explained to them that these were, more or less, grandfathered uses that were capable of continuing their particular use, although they were not located within a zoning district that allowed the use.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14, 2001 at 7:00 p.m. in the Conover City Hall. 

Mrs. George adjourned the meeting at 8:56 pm.