BY STACIE LETT CAIN
The Statesville City Council waded through eight separate public hearings for residential and industrial projects that city officials believe signal a new era of growth. Development groups came to the council for both rezoning and annexation for projects ranging from single-story residential apartment units to light industrial warehouses.
The meeting began with a brief presentation form the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council that was started in the fall just after the shooting death of 8-year-old Ah’miyahh Howell in a drive-by shooting on Wilson Lee Boulevard. Students from five area middle schools, under supervision of four area principals, have met with Mayor Costi Kutteh monthly to explore possible solutions to problems facing children as well as looking to find activities and amenities geared toward Statesville’s younger residents.
Mayor Pro Tem William Morgan, in Mayor Kutteh’s absence, welcomed the students and praised them for their commitment to the advisory council and their desire to find solutions to problems facing others their age.
“These students have been working on ways of improving our city as it pertains to the city’s youth,” Morgan said. “I know the mayor is disappointed in not being here this evening.”
Among the public hearings before the council was a request for annexation along Salisbury Highway at Barkley Road. The 67.96-acre parcel is already zoned as heavy industrial and city utilities are already available. Williams Development Group LLC requested the annexation for warehouse and logistics space.
Also before the council were two residential developments by Redwood Development Group, which plans to build more than 240 single-story apartment units. Redwood has built similar developments all over the country, including in Charlotte and Troutman, and usually targets “empty nesters.” The developments will be located on Westminster Drive and James Farm Road and feature units ranging from 1,300 to 1,600 square feet.
Although the two residential developments passed the council unanimously, public comment was not completely in favor of the new housing.
“We have lived on James Farm Road since back when you could walk to the end of the road without ever meeting a car,” said James Farm Road resident Lydia Mayberry. “When Walmart came in it’s gone downhill from there. We already can’t get out of our driveways now. We need a traffic study done to count the cars already on this street. It’s like we live on a racetrack.”
TPA Group out of Atlanta also requested the council to rezone a 186-acre, three-parcel tract located along U.S. Highway 21/Turnersburg Highway and Houpe Road. This area, known as the Statesville Logistics Park, is the proposed site of a distribution warehouse. The site was chosen for its proximity to the interstate.
But not everyone in the area was in support of the proposed growth.
“I own the property bordering this land, and I am opposed to this rezoning,” Wayne White explained to council. “The city is littered with half-empty industrial sites and instead of rehabilitating those abandoned buildings they are going after untouched land.”
Among the council who unanimously supported the rezoning, Councilman Steve Johnson saw hope in the string of requests.
“When I moved here in 1981, my father-in-law told me that the City of Statesville should see growth because it is located at the intersection of two highways,” Johnson quipped. “It took this long but we are finally seeing that growth.”
With the possible addition of nearly half a billion dollars to the city’s tax base with the latest round of requests, hope springs eternal that the much-anticipated growth spurt is finally here for Statesville.
“I truly believe that this is Statesville’s year,” said City Manager Ron Smith. “We are seeing interest in all facets of growth: residential, commercial and industrial. If we handle it well, it will have such a beneficial impact on the quality of life in our city. Facilitating this growth will challenge the council and the staff in the short term, but I think we all have cause to be excited about the future.”
The next city council meeting is scheduled for March 7 at 7 p.m.