BY STACIE LETT CAIN

The irony wasn’t lost on the crowd of over 200 that the informational meeting to introduce the public to a large mixed-use development planned for 367.65 acres of Scotts Creek Road was held in a barn.

Matthew Grant, CEO for Jordan Grant & Associates, has notified neighbors that the property owner, Holland Farm Statesville LLC, plans to ask the Statesville City Council to rezone the site to accommodate 1,200 residential units, 12,000 square feet of retail space, green space and parks.

The vast majority of people who attended Tuesday’s meeting appeared to be opposed to the proposal.

“The reason I am here is that I am worried about what is happening to our farmland,” explained Allison Brown of Alexander County. Brown, who also owns land near the Scott Creek Road area for the proposed development, couldn’t wrap her mind around the loss of nearly 400 acres of farmland in exchange for a large housing development.

“There will be people living near poultry farms that are expecting development living,” she explained. “How long will it be until they try to move what is left of the agriculture in this area out because of the sounds or the smells of this farming area?”

Brown, who is concerned about the loss of farmland in North Carolina, fears the City of Statesville’s priorities may not be in the right place.

“We should be protecting our farmland at all costs,” she explained. “It should be a priority for all of us. We are losing it at an alarming rate statewide and people need to be aware of the consequences of that.”

In an interview earlier this year with www.farmprogress.com, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler estimated that the state is on course to lose between 1.1 million to 1.9 million acres of farmland to development.

That trend is not one residents of the Scotts Creek area want to be part of.

“There are no positives for the people who live near this development,” Jude Hutchinson explained. “Not one. There will be additional traffic on our roads, crime on our streets and the infrastructure just isn’t there to support this.”

Hutchinson’s husband, Brad Hutchinson agreed, saying that this just isn’t the right area for this type of development. 

“We specifically chose this area because of the charming rural feel, the peace and the country feeling,” he explained. “This development will destroy that. Not to mention what it will do to this city. The police don’t have the manpower to police 1,200 more homes. The streets can’t handle the additional traffic. We moved here to retire and live out our lives in peace. Now we have to deal with this as our neighbors?”

Jordan Grant & Associates representatives were on hand to answer questions about the numerous maps and drawings on site, but when asked for specifics on the development they declined to answer.

“We will be making an official press release at the next informational meeting on May 21 that will be held here at Green Gables Farms at 6 p.m.,” Matthew Jordan said. “Until that time we have released what general information that was contained in the letter and that is contained in the presentation boards.”

Nearby residents said they have a pretty good idea of what will be included in the development.

“I’m guessing we won’t be getting artisanal stores and charming boutiques,” Jude Hutchinson said. “And quite honestly we don’t need another Dollar General and Bojangles in this neighborhood.”

The information meetings, which are required before for applying for rezoning, will be the precursor to an official presentation to the Planning and Zoning Board. No date has been set for that.

In addition to processing the information presented, residents of Scott Creek Road and other adjoining areas also decided to do one additional thing: organize. The “STOP HOLLAND FARMS” Facebook group was created before the meeting even ended.

“The residents are for the responsible growth of Statesville and Iredell County,” Tiffany Layne explained. “But the current proposal is not indicative of enhancing the quality of life of individuals already living in this area. For instance, Scotts Elementary is already a Title 1 school. This will increase the educational burden. No climate surveys have been completed prior to the project proposal. There is no consideration for the current quality of life for residents that actively inhabit this area.”

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