BY DEBBIE PAGE
A quorum of Troutman Town Council members approved a rezoning request and several zoning-related text amendments to the Unified Code of Ordinance on Thursday night. The council also approved an economic incentive package between the town and C.R. Onsrud.
With Mayor Teross Young and council member Eddie Nau absent, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Henkel presided over the meeting.
MIXED-USE ZONING AMENDMENT APPROVED
At the suggestion of Troutman Planning Director Lynne Hair, Barium project developers requested that the town consider adding a UDO amendment to include a new zoning classification and development standards for mixed-use (residential/commercial) projects.
This amendment would apply to all future mixed-use (MU) projects in Troutman and is not specific to the Barium project.
The proposed Prestige development does not clearly fit within the town’s current defined zoning standards, as did several other recently approved projects. The staff recommended adding this amendment to the UDO to address this type of development.
Both Smith Village and Rocky Creek are examples of approved mixed-use projects that include both residential and commercial components. Because this MU zoning did not exist, the projects were approved with a spilt zoning of mixed residential and highway business.
An MU district makes these commercial/residential lines more flexible as site plans are created and topographical features present challenges.
To create consistent development standards, Hair said creating an MU zoning classification would be beneficial for the town. These MU projects generally produce higher taxes because of their higher densities and the additional commercial portion.
The amendment defines an MU district as accommodating a variety of housing types along with office, retail, commercial, industrial, and public uses combined into one cohesive community. These pedestrian friendly districts offer residents the chance to live, work, and shop within their community.
These districts are required to be at least 50 acres and be accessible to a main traffic artery or thoroughfare. Five percent must be dedicated to commercial uses. The MU designation also requires a 10 percent tree save and 10 percent open space, 5 percent of which must be improved as parks, greenways, green spaces, recreation fields, swimming pools, clubhouses, or other amenities.
MU zoning projects must also include at least one civic use, such as a public building or park or a school or library, that will benefit the town. They must also have access to an arterial or collector thoroughfare.
Building heights would be restricted to four stories. Parking will be beside (limited to 25 percent) or behind buildings. No outparcels would be allowed except in mixed use projects with direct access to the Exit 42 or Exit 45 corridor (maximum of three outparcels per development).
Buffers must be 50 feet against existing neighborhoods or industrial uses, with 20- to 25-foot buffers between other uses with the development. Landscape berms will be located where residential areas meet public roadways.
Developers must present a detailed master plan at the time of their conditional mixed-use rezoning request, including land uses, prescribed densities for each land use (including minimum lot sizes, building height and residential lot layout), a transportation plan for within development and connectivity to town, a pedestrian plan (sidewalks, greenways, etc.), an open space plan (size, location, proposed uses), and a master sign package (type, size, location of signage).
DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS APPROVED
The council also approved a proposed text amendment authorizing the town to enter into development agreements and to establish the procedures for that process. This ordinance should have been included with the 2021 UDO revision required after the N.C. General Assembly passed the160D-1001 legislation but those procedures were omitted in that process.
These agreements are typically only entered into with developers of larger, phased developments (50-plus acres) and provide a longer vested right to a project for both parties.
This voluntary agreement between the town and developer outlines the obligations of both parties as well as the standards and conditions that will control the development on the subject property.
The agreements include utility requirements and responsibilities and outline the phases of development, permitted uses, densities, site design, necessary public facilities, dedication of land for public purposes (schools, libraries, fire stations, etc), public safety requirements, preservation of historic structures, impact mitigation measures and the time frame for completion of the development.
The Planning and Zoning Board will review and recommend or deny any development agreements, followed by a public hearing and final council consideration for approval or denial.
Though voluntary, once signed, the agreement is binding on both parties. The planning director will conduct annual reviews of each agreement to require that the developer is showing good faith compliance with the agreement.
The developer will be notified of any material breaches and given an opportunity and time frame to cure the breach. If that effort fails, the town can modify or terminate the agreement. The developer can appeal modification or termination to the Board of Adjustment.
MURDOCK ROAD PROJECT REZONING APPROVED
The council also approved the rezoning of nearly five acres at 303 Murdock Road from suburban residential to conditional heavy industrial for the development of 41,000 square feet of warehousing space, divided into up to ten 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot units to be used for commercial office and warehouse spaces.
Hair recommended approval because surrounding properties, including the adjacent cement plant and nearby Walmart distribution center, already have HI designation.
DalaCasa Properties is planning to lease the in-demand commercial spaces to small businesses, each with an office space in front and warehouse storage space in the rear.
This property is adjacent to a 38-acre property, now zoned suburban residential, for which developers are applying for HI zoning for a proposed industrial park.
The DalaCasa project would also share an entrance road with the surrounding proposed industrial park that is expected to come before the board. A retention pond on the proposed site plan may also be unnecessary since discussions are underway with the other property owner to use the industrial park’s retention measures if that property develops simultaneously.
No traffic impact study was required because the proposed space is under 150,000 square feet.
The council approved the rezoning request, adding the berm requirement beside the entrance driveway suggested by the Planning and Zoning board but allowing the berm to be discarded if the surrounding property is rezoned to HI prior to completion of the DalaCasa project.
BARIUM SPRINGS PROJECT
The Town Council public hearing date to annex nearly 769 acres of the Barium Springs/CHA property is set for September 8. The annexation request will first go before the Planning and Zoning Board for recommendation on August 22.
A community meeting on the development of this property will be on Thursday, August 18, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
Hair said a development agreement is being created with the developers of the project.
C.R. ONSRUD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT
C.R. Onsrud is constructing a 67,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility and purchasing additional equipment. The total cost of the Improvements during the improvement period (November 10, 2021 – December 31, 2024), will be approximately $17.2 million.
Because the improvements are expected to increase the town’s tax base, population, and jobs, the town agreed to appropriate funds to provide certain economic development incentives,
However, no Incentive will be paid until the company has certified that Onsrud has increased the town’s tax base by at least $1 million. Onsrud must deliver a certificate that it has commenced the improvements, which must result in the creation of at least 25 new full-time jobs that pay at or above the average Iredell County wage of $51,130 and pay at least 50 percent of healthcare coverage.
Upon certification that the company equals or exceeds the $1 million threshold amount, the Town will pay Onsrud an annual economic incentive equal to a maximum of 80 percent of the assessed value of the improvements, an average of $66,884 per year based upon an assessed value of $17.2 million. The Town will not be required to pay more than a total of $334,421 over a five-year period.
♦ The council passed a resolution to support Operation Greenlight, which supports military service members as they undergo the oftentimes stressful transition to civilian life. The town encourages citizens to display a green light in a window of their residences and businesses from October 1 through November 11 “to recognize the importance of honoring all those who made immeasurable sacrifices to preserve freedom.”
♦ After a citizen plea to preserve trees and prevent the erosion and environmental damage of clearcutting, council member George Harris asked staff to develop a text amendment addressing clearcutting. He also asked for a text amendment to better define “open space” in the UDO.