Startown Small Area Plan Committee Meeting
for January 13, 2005

Members Present: Tony Wolfe, Chairman; Chip Canupp, Vice-Chairman; Dawn Mull; Reba Reinhardt; Clarence Hood; Jerry Lael; Cal Overby (for Keith Stahley); Glenn Pattishall; and Rusty Lutz

Members Absent: Charlie Wyant, Thomas Jones, and Kevin Saunders

Staff Present: Mary George, and Connie Killian from the Catawba County Planning Department; and John Kenny and Andrea Lytle from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

Chairman Wolfe called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm where he welcomed everyone present.

The minutes were approved with one correction. Mr. Hood said that where he referenced the 800 acres in rural area between Newton and Maiden that this should be changed to "several tracts totaling 800 acres." He also added that Betts Branch should be added to the floodplain reference. The minutes were approved with these changes.

Mr. Wolfe stated that the Committee members needed to move along with their discussions so they could meet the May date for the public hearing scheduled with the community.

Mr. Lutz asked the Committee to take a position on a proposed rezoning for a trucking terminal on Robinwood Rd.. This business is located in Mountain View's Small Area Plan, but is on the western end of the Startown SAP along Robinwood Road. He stated that since the Committee had been concerned with truck traffic along Startown Rd., Sandy Ford Rd., and Robinwood Rd., that they should be opposed to this rezoning request because it would generate more truck traffic along these roads.

Ms. George explained that this trucking company was a nonconforming use. She told the Committee that the owner of this business stated that he could not accommodate parking for his trucks so he wanted to extend parking on land that he currently owns which joins his present parking lot. She further explained that to expand his parking, he either had to go to the Board of Adjustment for an extension of a nonconforming use or have the property rezoned. He chose to have it rezoned so that if he wanted to make any other changes he wouldn't have to go to a Board again. She told the group that the owner had officially withdrawn his rezoning request. She stated that the Mtn. View Planning Committee had reconvened in October and officially stated its opposition to this rezoning request because this was not in an industrial area. It was the consensus of the Startown committee to recommend against this rezoning request because of the traffic problems that it would impose in the Startown Planning area.

Mr. Kenny stated that there were three issues that this group needed to focus on at this meeting: 1) the exact village location; 2) discussion of a recommendation for two-acre lot sizes from NC 10 North to the Mountain View SAP boundary; and 3) recommended "high" density designation, especially for the east side of Startown toward Newton and Maiden's City limits.

Mr. Kenny said that one of the main issues to discuss is where the village(s) should be located. He stated that basically there is a village area already located in this planning area at the Hwy. 321/Hwy. 10 interchange. This land is zoned mixed use and contains approximately 135 acres. He said that they must decide if they want another area designated for a village with mixed uses in the northern section of their planning area. Ms. George stated that based on input received from developers of other villages that sustainable villages should not be located too close to each other.

Mr. Canupp stated that he felt that the village designation on Startown Rd. was entirely too large as it was shown on the map. He said that he felt that the same people would not be using these two villages, so he was not against having two village designations.

Mr. Cal Overby, representing Hickory Planning, stated that a sewer line is being built along Hwy. 321 and going down Sandy Ford Rd. with several pump stations to be located along this line. This is the City's southeast sewer expansion that will go to its new business park. He further stated that this sewer line would go through the proposed village area close to the proposed Southern Corridor.

There was discussion among the members about the acreage size of the proposed village along Startown Rd. Ms. George stated that most villages are 70-80 acres.

Ms. Lytle showed a PowerPoint presentation of several different locations for the proposed village along Startown Rd. The first area shown was what the Committee had chosen to be a village on the east and west sides of Startown Rd. contained over 1,000 acres. The second proposal showed the village to be located between the proposed location of Catawba Valley Blvd. Ext. on the north and the proposed Southern Corridor on the south and on both sides of Startown Rd., which contained between 300-400 acres. She suggested the area to be located on the west side of Startown Rd. on both sides of Catawba Valley Blvd. extension. There were several other suggestions made about potential locations for the village in this same area.

Mr. Kenny said one of the issues about village areas is that they are densely populated, yet the Committee seems to want to maintain a rural character in their area. One of the members stated that they wanted to encourage development along roads that had infrastructure, which would leave all the other areas as rural. The question was asked how to justify picking one side of Startown Rd. over the other. One of the members replied that there is a large ravine on the east side of Startown Rd. Also, the fact that there are larger tracts on the west side was another consideration. After discussion, the Committee picked the west side of Startown for a proposed village area of approximately 128 acres because of topography advantages, proximity to Catawba Valley Blvd. and multiple through-parcels (frontage on two State-maintained roads) on the west side of Startown Road.

In further review of their density recommendations, Mr. Kenny asked the group if it made sense to have the Hwy. 321 Corridor framed in a two-acre density requirement. He reminded the Committee that they had proposed this because of preservation of the viewshed. The committee agreed to keep 2-acre buffer along Hwy. 321 north of Hwy. 10.

Mr. Kenny wanted to discuss the property on the east side of Startown Rd. south of NC 10 between Newton and Maiden. Mr. Hood said that he had talked to his neighbors and they would prefer a two-acre density in this area. However, he said that Maiden's 2020 Plan takes in some of this area and recommends one-half acre lots, so he suggested one-half acre lots be recommended in this area.

Ms. Lytle stated that clustering of subdivisions was one way to save open space and preserve rural character. She showed a power point slide of a subdivision being divided the traditional way and then one where the same property was divided in a cluster subdivision. She explained that with clustering individual lots could be smaller than one-lot per acre, but with the open space method the tract of land would average an overall density of one lot per acre. A question was asked if someone down the road wanted to develop the open space, could they. Ms. George responded that this could not be done because the open space was calculated in the density of the tract of land. She noted that the maintenance of the open space is typically the responsibility of the homeowners association. She stated that there are 6-8 cluster subdivisions in the County at the present time. She further stated that an option for the group would be to mandate new subdivisions in this area to be clustered. At the present time 30% of the property is the required minimum of open space for a cluster subdivision. A question was asked if this open space could be used for septic systems. Ms. George replied that it could, but the County's ordinance limited the amount of the open space that could be used for septic systems.

Ms. Lytle explained that another way to preserve rural character would be to install a subdivision landscape buffer. The buffer could be located along a major road so that a natural corridor would be maintained along the road. Subdivisions could also be required to have internal roads with driveway access. She explained that linking open spaces is another way to design subdivisions which would make the area be more rural in character. Landowners could be encouraged to package their lands together to develop in a coordinated manner. Transfer of development rights is another way to preserve open space. This process allows the owner of rural property to sell the right to develop his property to someone in an urban area. This would allow the person in the urban area to develop his property more densely and the person in the rural area would benefit because he would get the financial value by selling his the development rights to his land and still maintain the rural area character. She further stated that the transfer of development rights would be a voluntary program.

After discussion of these various techniques, the committee decided that they would like to see a 30 ft. landscaped buffer along roads for major subdivisions. The Committee further recommended that cluster subdivisions be required along the following roads: Startown Rd. south of NC 10, Sigmon Dairy Rd. and Rome Jones Rd. Ms. George noted that because of the floodplain in this area, cluster subdivisions could work well. The committee also recommended internal access for new major subdivisions. Also, all subdivision and new individual lots would be required to have 100 ft. setbacks on both sides of Startown Rd. south of NC 10, Rome Jones Rd. and Sigmon Dairy Rd.

Concerning "high" density north and south of Hwy. 10 (depicted in "yellow" on Map 6), some Committee members felt that homes on a .25 acre lot was too dense. Ms. Lytle stated that a waterline is proposed from Beverly Street to the southeast side of The Knolls along Rome Jones Rd. and on to Hwy. 321 to Jack Whitener Rd. With construction of this line, individuals could tap onto the water within the next year. A vote was taken to determine whether the Committee wished to recommend ½ acre or 1/3 acre as the maximum density in the "yellow" area. There were four votes in favor of the motion, and three against. The outcome was that ½ acre lots without water or 1/3 acre lots with water was the Committee's recommended density for the "yellow" area.

The meeting adjourned at 9:21 pm.