BY DEBBIE PAGE
Following the unanimous recommendation to deny by the Planning and Zoning Board, the Troutman Town Council rejected the River Rock triplex project on Thursday night, despite adjoining neighborhood support, after hearing numerous objections from others in the Perth Road area who said the project did not fit in the existing single-family home environment.
Speakers pointed out the town’s Unified Code of Ordinance did not even permit duplexes. Others relayed their concerns about increased traffic and the loss of farmland. Speakers also noted the availability of numerous ranch homes and age-targeted projects already on the books, making this project unnecessary.
Harold Welling spoke for about 40 attendees from the neighboring Twin Creeks neighborhood who supported the project in the standing-room only chamber. They cited a 40-foot buffer, a 35-foot rear setback next to the neighborhood, and the elimination of a road connection as positives.
Welling also revealed that developers offered to pay the neighborhood $250,000 to repair roads left in poor condition after Twin Creeks developers went bankrupt and left work unfinished.
Chris Berger, a 21-year resident on State Park Road abutting the other side of the project, told the council it was “gut check time” on growth. He lamented farmland like this in Iredell County fast disappearing and wondered if the $250,000 offer to the neighborhood sought to buy its support.
Council member George Harris, in making a motion to deny the River Rock annexation request, said the project was not in harmony with the surrounding area. He saw no benefit to Troutman with plenty of other age-targeted or age-restricted projects with walkability to town center already approved.
The council voted 4-0 to deny the project. Council member Eddie Nau did not attend the meeting.
NORTH FORK BUSINESS PARK
A decision to rezone 38 acres, located just off Murdock Road near the already approved 5-acre DalaCasa light industrial development, from suburban residential to heavy industrial for the North Fork Business Park was delayed until the December meeting to formally finalize project conditions with developers before moving to a vote.
Council approved the adjacent DalaCasa project for 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, in August.
Real estate broker Sam Barnette, builder Butch Bouwens, and DalaCasa developers Peter Casatelli and Tony D’Alessandro, who are partnering on the North Fork project, similarly plan 13 individuals parcels to be used for commercial or warehousing facilities.
The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously rejected recommending the North Fork project in September, citing inconsistency with the current land-use map, inconsistencies in the traffic impact analysis, and better suited areas near Exit 42.
The project’s Traffic Impact Analysis identified two required improvements: construction of a 375-foot westbound Murdock Road right-turn lane and 125 feet of entrance/exit lanes to the Nugget Drive site.
Developers promised attractive, upscale Class A warehouse/flex buildings with stucco infused exterior siding and 2.5-inch foam core noise blocking walls with sound-insulated exterior doors to reduce noise issues.
The development would have all concrete parking areas, a carefully constructed exterior lighting plan to control light nuisance, and a strict owners association, managed by Bouwens, to ensure compliance with aesthetics, cleanliness, and upkeep.
The developers, two of whom operate a landscaping company as well, said the development would have attractive landscaping to maximize curb appeal. They also agreed to construct a five-foot berm with eight-foot minimum evergreen trees, which will eventually grow to a dense barrier of 30 to 40 feet, next two two residential properties bordering one side of the project.
The developers also investigated nearby residents’ hexavalent chromium concerns voiced at the Planning and Zoning meeting, noting the Environmental Protection Agency said that the chemical compound is produced either by natural element deposits or through industrial processes.
The EPA sets a maximum of 100 parts per billion, with California setting a lower limit of 50. The national average is .4, NC’s is .6, and in heavy industrial areas in Statesville, .09 parts per billion.
The developers said that there will be no chemical dumping or staging allowed in the closely monitored park. They will also monitor tenants for noise, water or air pollution violations, prohibited outdoor storage, and trash and debris.
Developers also agreed to locating only light industrial uses next to two residential properties bordering the proposed industrial park.
The developers refused to reduce council’s suggestion to rezone to light industrial for the whole project, citing building size limitations in that zoning designation, but they eliminated potential nuisances allowed in HI in the development conditions.
Nearby residents strongly opposed the project. Veteran Steve Vang moved to Troutman to raise his children in peace, only to be told by a project developer to move if he does not like it. After serving in the military, Vang said he was offended by what he perceived as a threat.
Vang asked council members, “Are you for the people or the greed of others?”
New resident Kristen Sharp picked Troutman for being quaint and family-oriented. She asked council members to plan appropriately for the town, citing the need for retail, medical, and others services instead of this project. “Other parcels in this area are better suited for industrial development.”
Charlie King noted better infrastructure to support the project on land available near Exit 42 and expressed concerns over the devaluing of nearby property and the environmental issues that could result from racing-related businesses expected in the industrial park.
Jessica Williams protested the impact on wildlife, wells, and residents’ health. “We have the right to clean water in our wells,” she said.
Hans de Bot spoke in favor of the project, which would bring employment opportunities and help grow Troutman’s economy. He wants to purchase two parcels in the proposed North Fork development for his businesses, and as a Troutman resident, said he would not support the park if it was dangerous to the environment.
“If it was not in the best interest of the town, I would have no interest in buying these buildings,” de Bot added. “I have no desire to disturb the peaceful environment or the health of my neighbors.”
Town Planner Lynne Hair noted that though the present Future land Use Map recommends Rural-Residential uses for the parcel, the newly revised FLUM map, also presented Thursday to council for consideration, would designate the Murdock area for light and heavy industrial uses, in keeping with the nearby Walmart and Godley warehouse facilities, Onsrud, ABT, and the cement plant.
She also said “it is unlikely that rural, residential, and agricultural uses will be in harmony with the surrounding areas. Furthermore, with the plan showing the properties to the south across Murdock Road being developed as heavy industrial uses, this makes it even less likely that the category shown on the (current) land use map is in harmony with the future of the surrounding area.”
Council will now vote on the matter at its December 8 meeting after continuing the public hearing.
COLLETT INDUSTRIAL ECONOMIC INCENTIVE PASSES
Council members unanimously approved Iredell Economic Development Corporation Vice President Chad Thomas’s request for an economic incentive for Collett Industrial for its Houston Road Project, which was approved by the council in June.
The 92-acre heavy industrial Houston Road Distribution Center plans 698,220 square feet of warehousing/distribution space over three buildings, with two on the north side of Houston Road (340,200 and 217,620 square feet) and one on the south side (140,400 square feet).
The requested economic incentive grant is for a maximum of $624,000 over a three-year period, with a maximum annual amount of $208,000, to Collett Industrial, based upon a capital investment of $50 million, a minimum investment of $10 million by December 31, 2026, and for the public benefit, a $2.1 million infrastructure investment by Collett.
The incentive grant is based on 80 percent of the real and tangible personal property taxes paid. The grant investment would be initiated within 12 months from date of approval, and a shell certificate or certificate of occupancy shall be obtained by December 31, 2026.
REVISED FUTURE LAND USE MAP
Hair presented the revised Future Land Use Map (FLUM) draft to the council for consideration. Mayor Teross Young reminded the community that the map is a guide for decisions about future growth in the community, not a binding document or a reflection of current zoning.
The usual five-year revision is occurring a year early because of the increase in development the town is experiencing.
Council members asked that four areas be particularly addressed during the revision, including reassessment of the location of commercial and industrial areas that reflects a shift to I-77 interchange areas at Exit 42 and Exit 45.
They also asked for analysis of how the Barium Springs (Barium at Wakefield) development will fit into the land use pattern and to assess residential densities in relation to availability of utilities.
Most importantly, the revision will provide the planning staff with an updated map that reflects the goals of the community and council that can be used in making educated land use decisions.
The revision process began in April with the appointment of an Advisory Committee of Town Council members, Planning Board members, staff, and community members. The group began monthly meetings in May to discuss needed changes, the direction of Troutman’s development, and changes to the current land use definitions.
Two public meetings and an online survey for the community to give input also occurred. The committee then worked to create land use classifications that more closely fit the land use goals of the community.
Some of the changes include moving Eastway Drive to Town Center designation and moving the Perth and State Park Road intersection area to Special Lake Use District, the definition of which is also being changed to low-density developments of 2-3 single family detached homes per acre.
The north side of Murdock Road was also moved to light industrial, and the land use map now covers the northern area boundary along Moose Club Road all the way to I-77 after the expiration of an annexation agreement with Statesville.
In the land use definitions, the committee also removed the “clustering” of homes in medium density residential definition. Hair said the next step is to strengthen the UDO to address net density versus gross density in density calculations.
The suggested high-density/mixed use residential definition also will change density to greater than 3 units per acre, a change added by the Planning and Zoning board to fit the proposed medium density definition change to 2-3 units per acre.
The medium-density definition also requires (instead of “strongly recommends”) that major subdivisions of more than 5 lots have a variation in lot sizes, housing types, and price points.
The proposed low-density residential now specifies that the single family dwellings must be detached.
A new mixed-use definition was also added to reflect the UDO text amendment passed earlier this year. These large tracts are developed as a cohesive, connected, walkable projects with different types of housing (including single family detached and attached and multi-family) and varying densities. They also include commercial and civic use areas.
Other proposed definition changes include separating civic (government – parks, libraries, buildings, churches) uses from office institutional (office, financial, medical).
The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously voted to recommend the proposed FLUM and definitions to the council with a few changes, including the changing from high density to medium density of a section north of Houston Road and extending to the proposed high school site, the correction of “greater than 3 homes” rather than 4 homes in the mixed use/high density definition, and verification of the Technology Drive area as being correctly designated on the map.
Hair said after council approval, phase two of the update process will begin, including updates to the Unified Development Ordinance to reflect the goals of the newly created map and to amend land use definitions as defined on the new map.
Hair noted that UDO text amendments were also being written to redefine open space calculations that affect density calculation and to forbid clearcutting of large land tracts.
Hair also said that all projects now submitted would be considered under the current FLUM, with future projects only subject to the new map if approved by council.
Council members delayed a vote for until the December 8 meeting to provide time for themselves and the public to “digest” the proposal, at the recommendation of Mayor Pro Tem Paul Henkel.
♦ Council voted to remove the 276-acre Shinn Farms development on Weathers Creek and Houston Roads from the agenda and move it to its December 8 meeting. The Planning and Zoning Board narrowly recommended the project in a 4-2 vote in October.
♦ The council unanimously approved two accessory structures for Detailed Image Collision and Customs after Design Review Board approval and a Board of Adjustment variance was granted. The structures were placed 5 feet, 6 inches from the property line, rather than the required ten, after misinformation from an interim town planner several years ago.
Henkel said the variance was justified because the inaccurate information caused the problem, and he cited the expense to the business owner to move them and the poor aesthetics and usability of the available property if moved.
♦ Council appointed James Tabor as an ETJ Board of Adjustment alternate member, pending approval by the Iredell County Board of Commissioners.
♦ Council set a December 8 annexation hearing date for 8.3 acres at 122 Frazier Loop by Calvary Fellowship of Huntersville.
♦ Council approved of Façade/Building Elevations for the Kirkman Medical Building and Westmoreland Village Amenity Center building.
♦ Council approved a Accounting and Faithful Performance Bond Increase (required by Senate Bill 265) to increase Finance Officer Faithful Performance Bond to $1M from $50,000 and to establish $10,000 Blanket Faithful Performance Bonds for employees handling $100 or more to protect town funds.