Startown Small Area Plan Committee Meeting
for February 12, 2004

The Startown Small Area Planning Committee met on Thursday, February 12, 2004 in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Catawba County Government Center in Newton, North Carolina.

Members present: Tony Wolfe, Chairman; Chip Canupp; Vice-Chairman; Jerry Lael; Clarence Hood; Charlie Wyant; Dawn Mull; Reba Reinhardt; Rusty Lutz; Thomas Jones; Glenn Pattishall; and Tom Lilly

Members absent: Kevin Saunders and Keith Stahley

Staff present: Mary George and Connie Killian from the Catawba County Planning Department; and Anthony Starr and John Kenny, consultants from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments

The meeting was called was called to order at 7:12 pm by Chairman Wolfe who welcomed everyone. At this time he turned the meeting over to Mary George.

Ms. George thanked everyone for doing their homework from the last meeting, which was taking pictures of things that they liked and had concerns about for their community. She said that she wanted each member to individually show their pictures to the other members and explain to the Committee their likes and concerns.

Ms. Reba Reinhardt spoke first and showed her pictures to the Committee. She started with a picture of the Rocky Ford Rd. area with the bridges. Her concern was over the flooding possibilities in the area. The other road that she didn't care for was Wilfong Rd. because it was not paved. She stated that the County needed to pave more of its roads. She didn't like how Biggerstaff Road developed because of all the different uses allowed along it - singlewides, doublewides, stick-builts, businesses, etc. She also said that another area along Startown Rd. where all the trees had been cleared was not a pretty site. Another area along Jarrett Farm Rd. there were a number of abandoned trailers, which were eyesores, as well as garbage being thrown all along this road, which she did not like. She stated that she liked open land with cattle, which is located along Startown Rd. She also liked the outdoor pavilion provided at her church for its' and the community's usage. She stated that she liked well-designed apartments and all the open spaces on Blackburn Bridge Rd. She further stated that she liked the idea that there were no signs or billboards on the new Hwy. 321. Lastly, she said that she liked larger lot sizes for homes so homeowners can have larger areas to place their houses and have more space.

Mr. Rusty Lutz showed his pictures and said that he felt that we needed to work very hard to preserve our natural heritage. He specifically pointed out the need to encourage revitalization of old and empty buildings. He stated that we needed to do whatever it took to fill these empty buildings. He further stated that the area north of Hwy. 10 was going to be changing rapidly and we needed to be in the position to address these changes. He pointed out in one of his pictures a subdivision in Gaston Co. that used appearance criteria in its development. He stated he doesn't like strip development with all buildings and asphalt. He pointed out a picture of Birkdale Village in Huntersville where all the retail stores were located on the ground floors and residents were located on the second floors. He explained the layout of this village where everything including entertainment, churches, food, etc. is within walking distance of those living in the area. He further stated that this is how he would like to see the Startown area develop.

Mr. Chip Canupp showed his pictures and stated that while taking pictures he found out that he liked open spaces. He felt that we needed to preserve Catawba County's heritage. He stated he liked the preservation of older homes and farm buildings. He also liked the architecture of an office in Newton and wanted to see this continue. He stated that he likes to see residential yards well maintained and not have trash lying around. He further stated he didn't think that modular-type office units blended well with traditionally constructed office buildings. He felt that zoning needed to be used more in this area with not so many mixed uses being allowed in this area.

Mr. Jerry Lael spoke and showed his pictures to the Committee. He said that his pictures were taken from his yard with the view of open space along Startown Rd. He felt that there needed to be some kind of control on how this road developed. One of his pictures showed homes being built on very small sized lots where cars had to park along streets. He said we needed larger size lots for homes. He stated that he didn't like high-density development such as the apartment complex behind the mall because it added to the school capacity, County's infrastructure, etc. He also didn't like seeing all the empty buildings not being used in the County such as the K-Mart and Lowe's buildings with the large empty parking lots.

Mr. Clarence Hood told the Committee that as he was driving around to take his pictures he realized that there was not very much open space land left in the County. He told the members that at the Farm Bureau meeting he had attended the week before he had learned that 70% of farmland left in Catawba County will be sold in the next 15 yrs. and once this happens these farms will be lost. He said he didn't like erosion of soil being lost from the Catawba Valley Blvd. developments going into the South Fork River. Also he didn't like the erosion going down into Clarks Creek from all the new developments. He said that he didn't like all the signs along streets and he didn't like all the abandoned buildings in the County with its asphalt that encourages water flow. He also noted the need for an intersection improvement at Hwy. 10 and Sigmon Dairy Road. He had concerns over future traffic along Startown Road from the rock quarry as it expands. He showed the Committee pictures of creeks that had been flooded. He stated that the garbage around the landfill was an eyesore even though it is getting a little better. He said finally that he wanted to keep the historical heritage in the area and wanted to see aesthetically pleasing areas like the nursery along Hwy. 321. He also commended the Food Lion at Startown for its stormwater detention facility.

Thomas Jones spoke to the Committee and said that he took his pictures at night. He stated that he felt the County had a light pollution problem. He liked Jacobs Fork River and its beauty. He said he would like to see the South Fork as well as Jacobs Fork River preserved. He liked landscaping in shopping centers and would like to see us control the growth in the County. He stated that he wanted to know if there was a point that we might reach to stop growth in the County to maintain the lifestyle that we want to preserve such as open spaces.

Dawn Mull showed her pictures and told the Committee that she was also concerned about light pollution. She explained that some of the good things that she liked were farmland, older homes and natural heritage. She said she didn't like all the trees being cut down for new buildings. Another thing she didn't like were empty buildings. Some of the parks have been practically destroyed because of developments being allowed to be built to close and ruining the views. She stated that these types of developments needed to be controlled so that this doesn't happen.

Charlie Wyant told the Committee he loved farmland and open spaces and he had several pictures in this area showing this. He liked developments with larger lots such as Wellington. He liked fences along large properties such as on the Hickory-Lincolnton Rd. He didn't like all the trash along the roads that is being lost from trucks going to the County's landfill and crowded housing.

Tony Wolfe informed the Committee that he took pictures in his immediate neighborhood and he was concerned about the inconsistencies of what could be developed along this particular road. He felt that there was too much diversity being allowed and that more zoning controls were needed. He said he was concerned about the County's landfill and its growth plans and how it might affect large tracts of land in this Plan's area and the South Fork River. He was also concerned about the new Hwy. 321 and its zoning and what possible development might take place along it in the future. He was concerned about the large acreages in this area being sold off and how they may be developed.

After all the pictures were shown, there was a general discussion among the members concerning land uses, what exactly they wanted to see in their area, the nature of zoning and how it could help their area. Also discussed were bicycle trails and how the Committee would like to see these incorporated into this Plan's area.

Ms. George informed the Committee that they would be addressing all these issues in their upcoming meetings.

Mr. Glenn Pattishall spoke to the Committee, representing the City of Newton, stating that this Plan's area would be an attractive area for development. He said that there had to be some kind of community standards for its development. Preservations of properties are achievable but they would have to be regulated. He said that high-density development could be controlled by public utilities, i.e. water and sewer.

A question was asked if there was a point Catawba County would reach when growth will have to be controlled.

Ms. George informed the Committee about a new committee called Voices and Choices of Charlotte, which started 4-5 years ago. She said this was a group that was developing a master plan for a 14 county region surrounding Charlotte which addresses preservation of open spaces, air quality, transportation and other matters. Concerning open spaces it specifically addresses open space by including a master plan of all open spaces to see how these properties could be linked for trails, railroads, greenways, etc. This also would be able to be used as a regional economic tool.

Ms. George also informed the Committee that monies had been put in the Planning Department's budget for the next fiscal year for master planning for parks in the County. Also funds were being budgeted for the WPCOG to facilitate a four-county regional recreational/economic study along the Catawba River.

Ms. George informed this Committee that the Catawba SAP, who had just finished their final plan, was recommending a greenway from the Bunker Hill Bridge all the way to the Town of Catawba along Lyle Creek. She commended this Committee on their excellent presentations and pictures as they covered just about all the issues that will be discussed and recommendations made concerning the Startown Planning Area.

A question was asked if the two-acre restriction was still going to be required when this Plan was finished. Ms. George replied that once all the plans from all the areas were finished and a Unified Development Ordinance is completed, then this restriction it was recommended that this requirement be released.

Mr. Canupp stated that he felt that this region seemed to be turning into a retirement area where people were moving here from other areas. He further stated these retirement age people have grown children, so the school issue would not have to be addressed. He felt that we needed to stress or sell our area as a place to move to when you retirement.

Ms. George stated that retirement today is a lot different than it use to be where people are retiring much younger and they are doing much more activities than previously, so other features such as trails, bikeways, etc. would need to be provided if this were to be promoted.

Mr. Starr told the Committee that in the next couple of meetings they would be receiving background information on the issues that will be addressed for their Plan. He said that one of the parts of this Plan is to have two community meetings - one at the beginning to discuss possible issues and one at the end to review the draft of the Plan. He stated that he would like to set the date of the first meeting at this meeting. Startown Elementary School was decided as the meting place. Mr. Starr stated that sometime in May would be a good time for this meeting. Tuesday, May 11th, with May 4th being the backup date was set for this community meeting. This would be scheduled at 6:30-8:30 pm in the cafeteria with possible overflow in the gym. It was the consensus of the group that they would have their regular scheduled meeting on Thursday, May 13th of the same week. Flyers will be given to members to be given out to community citizens and to be placed in strategic places throughout the community, i.e. stores, churches, etc. Also, it was suggested that a special invitation by word of mouth was always a good way to get someone to attend a meeting such as this. This information will also be on the County's website for anyone to see prior to the community meeting in May.

Mr. Starr also stated that at next month's meeting a review of the County's and regions overall planning efforts will be heard and discussed. This meeting will be on Thursday, March 11th at 7:00 pm in the Second Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:51 pm.