Startown Small Area Plan Committee Meeting
for September 9, 2004

The Startown Small Area Planning Committee met on Thursday, September 9, 2004 in the Second Floor Meeting Room of the Catawba County Government Center in Newton, North Carolina.

Members present: Chip Canupp; Vice-Chairman; Glenn Pattishall, Rusty Lutz; Reba Reinhardt, Clarence Hood; and Charlie Wyant

Members absent: Tony Wolfe, Keith Stahley, Kevin Saunders, Jerry Lael, Dawn Mull, and Thomas Jones

Staff present: Mary George, Jacky Eubanks, Sue Ballbach, and Connie Killian from the Catawba County Planning Department; and Andrea Lytle and John Kenny, consultants from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

The meeting was called was called to order at 7:05 pm by Vice-Chairman Canupp who welcomed everyone in attendance.

A motion was made by Rusty Lutz, seconded by Reba Reinhardt, to approve the minutes with minor changes suggested by the City of Newton. The motion carried unanimously.

Ms. George addressed the action items at the end of the August 12th minutes and stated that one of the actions that were requested was a copy of the Power Point presentation concerning the Blackburn Landfill which she handed out to them. Another concern was the pavement at Fairway Farms and Food Lion along Startown Rd. Ms. George stated she had been in touch with NCDOT and they were aware of these problems and had them on their list to fix. Another item was information concerning generators and their output. This information had been sent to John Kinney by Glenn Pattishall and will be sent to the Committee members by John Kenny.

Mr. Kenny stated that he wanted the Committee to know that after their last meeting Mr. Rusty Lutz, Mr. Jerry Lael, and Ms. Reba Reinhardt had met with John Tippett, Transportation Planner and Planning staff concerning the future roads in their planning area.

Mr. Lutz stated that he had asked for this meeting because he wanted more input of why three four-laned roads were needed within three miles of each other going in the same direction. He said that even after this meeting he still did not know why these roads are needed. He said that more details were discussed about the roads and the fact that these roads would not happen for another 20-25 years. Mr. Lutz stated that he had a problem with the Catawba Valley Blvd. being extended west because there were homes located right on the road and he didn't see how this road could be widen. Also, he said a new school is being built on this road and it would not be good to have a major thoroughfare going by it because of the increased traffic.

Mr. Kenny began to review with the Committee members the recommendations that had been sent to them. He informed the members that he and Ms. George had worked on some of these recommendations since their last meeting and anything underlined was new and represented their intentions.

Mr. Kenny stated that one of the items discussed last time was scenic highways. The Committee's recommendations were US Hwy. 321 and NC Hwy. 10 West of Startown Rd. to Hickory-Lincolnton Hwy. South to Blackburn Bridge Rd. to Startown Rd. back to NC Hwy. 10.

A suggestion was made to add Hwy. 10 as a scenic highway into Lincoln County to Reepsville Rd. and then back into Catawba County. Ms. George suggested that this be coordinated with Lincoln Co. to have this designation along Reepsville and back to Startown Rd.

Mr. Kenny suggested that they discuss/review the section titled: Amending of the County Zoning and Subdivisions Ordinances since this was a new item that they had not seen. These amendments would include establishing regulations that all new residential driveways connecting to arterial and collector streets be at least 12 ft. wide for the first 20 ft. of length with a minimum of 3-foot turn radii. These roads would include: Hickory-Lincolnton Highway; Startown Road; NC Hwy. 10; Robinson Road; Sandy Ford Road; and West Maiden Road. This would make turns easier off these roads for residential driveways. Mr. Pattishall stated that he felt there should be fewer driveways off the main roads, and if you had a subdivision, all the driveways should be required to have interior access, not off the major roads. Ms. George suggested that this could be incorporated into the plan. The group decided to change the second point to read, "Driveways along thoroughfares should be minimized by encouraging service roads for non-residential and residential developments" to incorporate this recommendation.

Regarding the Pedestrian System section, Mr. Kenny stated that this required sidewalks to be constructed with the following new projects: Southern Corridor, Catawba Valley Blvd. (if built) and Robinson Road Extension.

In reference to the Bicycle System section, a question was asked about bicycle routes in this area and about the signs displayed along certain roads with bicycles on them. Mr. Pattishall stated that there had been special funding for these signs along with maps and brochures to tell cyclists where safe roads were located for them to ride. After discussion, the group agreed with the two items under this category with the addition of "for increased safety" at the end of the second item.

Mr. Kenny stated that the last two sections addressed Transit System and Passenger Rail. He reviewed the two points under each category with the Committee. The group was in agreement with these two points.

Concerning the section titled: Revisions to the Unifour MPO and Catawba County Thoroughfare Plans, Mr. Kenny stated they needed to discuss some new language concerning the Rocky Ford Rd./Hwy. 321 interchange, which stated, "Recommend a new interchange on US 321 at Rocky Ford Rd. to alleviate industrial traffic concerns along Hickory-Lincolnton Hwy. This recommendation would also require improvements to Rocky Ford Rd." The members discussed the present day truck traffic and the future traffic plus the fact that a new wood products business was going on the County's former landfill property, which would also increase the traffic. The suggestion of changing alleviate to "accommodate" and add "landfill" traffic was made by the Committee. After discussion, the members agreed to the first point to say, "Explore the idea of establishing an NCDOT designated truck route that would divert traffic from this road." It was decided that this point would be moved under the category entitled Request from NCDOT District Office.

The point concerning evaluating the feasibility of extending Robinson Rd. South to Rocky Ford Rd. on a new route West of existing subdivisions to the intersection of Rocky Ford and US Hwy. 321 was approved by the Committee.

The Committee approved the next point concerning the recommendation of eliminating the Robinson Rd. extension project South of Rocky Ford Rd. to West Maiden Rd. due to concerns of loss of open space in the US Hwy 321 Corridor

The point concerning incorporation of Early Action Compact for air quality into the Transportation Plan was approved by the Committee as it was stated.

The next point concerned the Committee's recommendation that the future phases of Catawba Valley Blvd. not to be built because of their concerns over increased commercial development in the northern Startown SAP area.

Mr. Eubanks stated that when they adopt their Plan it would include Map #7 which now shows the Catawba Valley Blvd. extension going through the Community College Campus. He said that they should consider amending their recommendation by saying that they recommended that this Blvd. not go through the Campus and that it be re-routed as proposed on Alternate Map 1, Southwest Alignment. He stated that the City of Hickory and Catawba County had gone on record supporting a re-routing to not go through the CVCC campus. This means the revised Thoroughfare Plan will show the re-routing of this road, if the MPO Transportation Committee approves it.

Mr. Kenny said that it was his understanding that the Committee's position was that they do not want to see Catawba Valley Blvd. be extended anywhere east of Startown Rd. It was stated by a Committee member that they did not see any need for this road because of the distances between it and the other proposed roads. It was stated that they felt that a better road extension would be Settlemyre Bridge Rd. Mr. Eubanks stated that Map #7, when this Plan is finished, should reflect this recommendation.

Mr. Kenney stated that just because a local government has an approved Transportation Plan does not mean that its recommendations are going to happen. He said that in order for any road to be official, it had to be approved the MPO which is made up of a number of local governments. One of the members stated that if you look at the map there was not a lot of difference if the industrial park had access by Settlemyre Bridge Rd. vs. Catawba Valley Blvd. Ext.

Ms. George explained to the Committee that the lines shown on their transportation map reflect the current Thoroughfare Plan recommendations. The question was asked, "Couldn't the Committee make an alternative recommendation?" Ms. George stated that if this Committee wants to show on a map what their Plan is recommending, as opposed to what is on the current adopted Thoroughfare Plan, it should then have a separate map. Mr. Eubanks suggested that they add a Map 7A which would show the alternate for Catawba Valley Blvd. Ext and a newMap7B that would show all their proposed amendments. Ms. George informed the Committee that once they have finished their Plan, the members would meet with the Planning Board to review these map options before the Plan goes to the Board of Commissioners for final approval. Mr. Kenny stated that what he understood from the Committee was there would be four recommended thoroughfare plan changes shown on Map 7B: 1) a new interchange at US Hwy. 321 and Rocky Ford Rd.; 2) a revised location for the extension of Robinson Rd. from Hwy. 10 to the west of the existing subdivisions to Rocky Ford Rd.; 3) the deletion of the Catawba Valley Blvd. Ext project east of Startown Rd.; and 4) the deletion of Robinson Rd. extension from Rocky Ford Road to West Maiden Rd.

Concerning the last point listed under the recommendations, Mr. Pattishall stated that he would like to express concern about the section of the Southern Corridor within the City of Newton. He said that they would like to recommend that this part of the Corridor be a two-lane road with the four-lanes terminating at Hwy. 321 Business. This road would be going through a very congested residential area called North Newton. After discussion it was decided to add at the end of the statement add, "within the Startown Planning Area boundary."

Mr. Kenny talked about land use and community design and reviewed with the members the handout that had been given to them. He said that in most all of the County's area the zoning is R-2 Residential (shown as pale yellow on the Map 3) and R-1 Residential zoning is shown in the darker yellow. Ms. George informed Mr. Kenny under the Current Land Use Section the last sentence in paragraph three that states, "the landfill is also zoned ED-1" is not correct because the actual landfill site is zoned R-2 Residential. The industrial land North of Rocky Ford Rd. and the landfill site is zoned ED-1. Mr. Kenny stated that this would be fixed and indicated on the Land Use Map. Ms. George also stated that there were corrections that needed to be made on the watershed material and she would get with him concerning these corrections. Mr. Kenny explained to the group about the critical and protected areas in a watershed and exactly what they meant.

Mr. Kenny reviewed the charts that showed the Land Use Distribution in their Planning area. He reviewed several changes that needed to be made in this section. They included: 1) change 49% to 41% in the first paragraph and 2) the second sentence should read, "Industrial zoning occupies the most acreage of non-residential zoned land, though 20% of commercially zoned land is vacant." He said that they needed to review four different things. The first table showed that there are 19,428 acres located in this area with 41% being vacant. Of the land zoned residential, there are 17,647 acres zoned residential - 8,062 that is vacant and 7,898 acres that are four acres or larger with a structure on them. He stated that these land use statistics show that a large amount of additional development could occur in the Startown area. Mr. Kenny said that historically rural and agricultural uses were the dominant land use in this area. The densest residential growth has taken place immediately west of Newton and more growth is expected in areas where water and sewer lines will be extended. Greater industrial activity is expected in the Startown area long US Hwy. 321 where the highway would provide the infrastructure necessary to support industrial uses and commercial uses may increase along US Hwy. 321.

Mr. Kenny said that the next assignment before the next meeting was for them to decide where they want to encourage more dense development or where do they want to keep the present pattern of low density.

The next meeting will be Thursday, October 14, 2004.

The meeting adjourned at 9:07 pm.

ACTION LIST

1. Corrected minutes sent to Committee members - WPCOG

2 Information concerning Newton's generator output to be sent to Committee members -John Kenny, WPCOG