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Development plans criticized by neighbors

 

Incentives to persuade Chinese-owned company to put manufacturing plant in Lincoln get OK

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

A proposed plan for future development at the southeastern end of the county drew sharp criticism from nearby residents during a public hearing Monday night.

The Woodcock Farms plan would call for the eventual development of roughly 500 acres of land, located between Sifford Road and the Gaston County line along both sides of the N.C. 16 bypass, into a business park, an industrial park, a commercial node, open-space areas and a park.

When presenting the proposal to commissioners, Principal Planner Randy Williams described it as a “20-year, long-range plan” and emphasized that they were not about to start turning dirt.

Rather, the initiative stemmed from the Lincoln County Future Land Use Plan that was adopted in 2007 and cited the need for additional studies to be completed along the N.C. 16 corridors, Williams noted.

“The purpose of this plan is to identify and guide development through a well-thought-out development plan and growth scenario for the vacant lands,” he said in a memo to county officials. “The plan relates land uses, access and development concepts seen to fit the land based on existing conditions, driveway cuts, traffic flow, streams and topography.”

He additionally cited the area’s “direct access to Charlotte” as a consideration in its development.

Input was sought from the Lincoln Economic Development Association, the public and the primary property owner, Crescent Resources, during the planning process.

Nonetheless, adjoining property owners present at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners expressed their disapproval for the project.

“Our end of the county is full,” nearby resident Kathy Howie said.

She also noted her concern over the amount of traffic that could result, as well as its effect on both the area residents’ commutes and on nature preserves.

“Investment bankers don’t care about us,” she told commissioners. “You’re all we have.”

Others were concerned with the designated entries into the proposed park, over which there was also some confusion.

Though Williams assured residents that the access points near residential areas had been removed from the plan following previous public-input sessions, those present remained unconvinced.

Commissioner Carrol Mitchem questioned why all the stir needed to be created over a “vision” that may not even come to be for some time, adding that it seemed “a little preconceived.”

“Change is inevitable,” Williams replied, also noting that planning staff would rather be proactive than reactive when it came to future development.

Commissioner Carl Robinson, meanwhile, said a lot of confusion was created and expressed his frustration over the larger area of land the current plan encompasses, saying it included more property than was asked of the staff. He said only the land owned by Crescent Resources was to be part of the development as a protection to the residents.

Though commissioners will have the final say at next week’s meeting, the Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposal at its separate meeting Monday night.

To view the N.C. 16 small-area plan, visit: www.lincolncounty.org/index.aspx?NID=1401.

In other board action at Monday’s meeting:

  • Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution, subject to approval by County Attorney Wesley Deaton, for an incentives package for RATO. As previously reported, the China-based manufacturer of engines announced in February that it would be locating its North American headquarters in Denver after acquiring Denver Global Products. However, the company is still eyeing locations for a manufacturing facility that could create hundreds of jobs. Crystal Gettys of LEDA told commissioners she was simply seeking their approval of the incentives to add to the company’s consideration of Lincoln County. The company is also currently looking at other states, and Gettys stressed that the situation was “very competitive.”
  • Public hearings on conditional-use permit requests from two proposed Internet sweepstakes gaming operations, one located in the WestPointe Shoppes Center on N. N.C. 16 in Denver and one on Old N.C. 150 in Crouse, were conducted, during which many spoke against the centers. Since the applications for each were submitted prior to the board’s recent approval of new standards to regulate the centers, if approved, both would not be subject to the regulations.
  • Commissioners approved a capital purchase of devices to detect elevated levels of carbon monoxide in blood for the county’s Emergency Medical Services in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Jim Klein in opposition.

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