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Planning Board favors rezoning plea

Planning Board members voted in favor of a downtown rezoning Tuesday that one resident says goes against the city’s Land Use Plan.
Members of the Lincolnton Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council approve an application from Citizens Insurance Agency to rezone the land located at the intersection of South Aspen and West Congress streets.
The .97-acre parcel is currently in the Central Business district, and the property owners want that changed to Residential-Office.
Applicant Mark Mullen said he wanted the zoning changed so he could construct a new building on the property.
But Laura Gregory, a neighboring property owner, said the change is just an attempt to skirt the design guidelines.
Gregory said based on the city’s Land Use Plan, Residential-Office is not a district needed in downtown because it allows for a use already allowed in Central Business but with less stringent design requirements.
For example, instead of having a grassy area between the building and sidewalk, a parking lot would be allowed, she said.
“We’re only trying to skirt the design guidelines and get away with putting a parking lot up front,” Gregory said. “(Downtown) is our jewel, and we need to really make sure we can keep the integrity and charm of the downtown.”
Planning Director Steve Gurley said that the Land Use Plan steering committee thought Central Business would be compatible with the location based on the fact that there was more of that zoning in the area.
In the ’90s, when the bridge at the intersection was torn down, so was a CB-zoned shopping center. That took away the CB characteristics of the area, Gurley said.
The Lincolnton City Council will hold a public hearing on the application April 1. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Room at the Citizens Center.
In other business:
Gurley gave an update on the extension of the Rail Trail to Motz Avenue. The city has pursued condemnation on five of the remaining properties and is going through talks with mortgage companies on two others.
by Alice Smith

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