BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

The Troutman Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of two rezoning requests in the Exit 42 area and, in a narrow vote, endorsed rezoning of town-owned property adjacent to Town Hall that is slated for possible a future town hall facility.

The town asked for the rezoning of eight lots on fronting Eastway and North Avenue, totaling about 5.5 acres, from town residential) to office institutional (OI).

Town Planner Lynne Hair said the properties, located across Scroggs Street next to Town Hall and one at the ESC Park entrance, are suitable for the OI designations since some nearby properties already have this zoning.

The OI zoning allows a variety of office, low-intensity retail, and single-family residential usages. Hair said staff recommended the change, noting that OI is a “very appropriate zoning for this area” and matches the Future Land Use Map.

Town Manager Ron Wyatt noted three homes exist on the properties. The house next door is being remodeled for use by the two Planning and Zoning staff members, who currently share a cramped office with insufficient storage.

Town staff members are waiting an engineering certificate for the floor system to certify it for heavy filing cabinets and for handicap accessible ramps to be constructed before the department can move in.

The second house up, known as the Ellis house, is being considered for a move to another site if it is structurally sound or for salvage of some of its materials before burn practice by the fire department.

The third house up from Town Hall, which is expected to be razed, is currently under contract with the town and will come before the board for rezoning to OI at a later date.

The brick house to the right of the park entrance may be used as more town offices or continued to be rented as a residential structure. Wyatt was unsure at this time, and the previous owner is living there until end of April as part of sale agreement.

Wyatt said the land next door was purchased as possible future town hall site, after which the current Town Hall could become the police station. The first white house, which is in good condition, would be moved to another location if the town builds a new town hall at the site.

Planning and Zoning Board Chair Randy Farmer noted the brick house next to the park entrance was marked as a high-density area on the Future Land Use Map. Wyatt responded that the slope, stream, and water and sewer lines running through the property do not make it conducive to such high-density development.

In purchasing the house, town officials also sought to protect the woods behind house as part of park entrance area.

Board member Karen Van Vliet said she wanted to keep the house by the park entrance and all on that side of North Avenue under residential zoning to enhance walkability to the town and park.

She opposes rezoning residential homes to OI, recalling the board’s decision to rezone several homes near the Rumple Street intersection With Main Street. “At what point do we stop zoning residential homes to OI?” she asked.

She fears these homes across from dentist’s office could be torn down. “We need to keep these homes residential in town for walkability.”

Hair again noted that OI zoning does permit single-family residential and that the zoning would not be non-conforming to rent the brick house for residential use.

After Mark Taylor proposed a split zoning for the park entrance property, Wyatt stated the town wanted the OI rezoning. He pointed out that the rear wooded area could have become six houses or high-density if the town had not purchased it.

Wyatt assured Van Vliet that the town is not planning to knock the brick house down and build an office. He conceded that one town-owned property on Wagner Street is being up-fitted for office space, but it was too far away to be logistically feasible for town use.

The intent for the Wagner Street building was to up fit it as a model for other town business facades and then sell or lease it to a commercial business. The space is also only 1,100 square feet and would not solve the town’s space issues.

The motion to rezone the requested properties as OI narrowly passed 3-2, with Van Vliet and Taylor dissenting.

OTHER BUSINESS

The board unanimously approved recommendation of Andrew and Christy Phillips’ request to rezone their vacant one-acre property on the east side of Charlotte Highway, south of Exit 42, from Iredell County residential agricultural to Town of Troutman highway business.

Hair said this straight rezoning will accompany an annexation application. No proposed use was submitted. The Future Land Use Map shows the area as interchange commercial, and highway business zoning conforms with the plan.

Town Council will act on this rezoning request at its April 14 meeting.

The board also unanimously recommended approval of Howard Bryan’s rezoning request for a nearly half-acre vacant lot at the end of Lexus Drive from Iredell County general business to Town of Troutman highway business.

The property is located behind the Pilot truck stop at Exit 42. Hair said an annexation application has also been submitted. She also noted the rezoning would unify its zoning with adjoining properties.

This rezoning request will be heard on May 12 after an annexation hearing request is considered at the April 14 Town Council meeting.

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