Lincolnton’s Planning Board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss a conditional use rezoning request and an amendment to the Lincolnton Unified Development Ordinance.
The BTR Communities Group, LLC, is requesting the conditional-use rezoning of 9.77 acres of land from Planned Business to Conditional Use Residential Multi-Family.
Caroline Courtyard would feature a 56-unit multifamily residential development. Approximately 40 of the units would be two bedroom apartments, with the remaining apartments featuring three bedrooms.
The property would include three separate housing buildings, a playground and a clubhouse with an exercise room, covered patio and computer room.
The proposed property is located on the west side of North Generals Blvd, approximately 1,000 feet north of the intersection of North Generals Blvd and Tait Mill Road.
At this time, the applicant stated, the plan still needs to be revised to discuss parking, setbacks, sidewalks and vegetation.
Planning Board members unanimously recommended approval of the requested conditional use rezoning.
Applicant Radwan Yousef is requesting an amendment to Section 153.113 of the Lincolnton Unified Development Ordinance to allow hookah cafes as a permitted use in the Central Business District. Members were informed that the amendment would add a new use to the UDO, and therefore, a new definition.
The board was given three options in regards to responding to this proposal. This first response would be to approve the amendment as proposed by the applicant as a permitted use, and the second response would be to approve the amendment as proposed by the applicant as a conditional use permit. The last option would allow board members to deny the amendment as proposed by the applicant.
“The idea is to allow people to enjoy a good time together,” Yousef said. “We would offer Turkish and French coffee as well as homemade desserts and snacks as well.”
Yousef also explained that in order to prevent minors from smoking, all IDs would be checked prior to the rental of the hookah.
During the discussion, Planning Board member Thomas Hawk spoke vehemently against approving the amendment.
“State law doesn’t specifically address hookah,” Hawk said. “However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control put out information stating that hookah smoking carries the same risks as smoking cigarettes. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in hookah use around the world, unfortunately more so among youth and college students.
“What people want to do over the age of 21 is their business,” Hawk continued. “But once we put it in the UDO, the city is not condoning it, but allowing it. Cities have the authority to enact ordinances that promote the health, welfare and safety of the community. I know smoking is popular with some people. But there’s enough evidence to indicate that this would not be in the best interest of the health, welfare and safety for this community. In Washington state and Colorado you can smoke marijuana. In Clark County, Nevada, prostitution is legal. Neither of those are permitted in Lincolnton, North Carolina. I feel Lincolnton needs to say that we do not condone nor will we allow the smoking of tobacco in a public place.”
The Planning Board unanimously agreed to deny the amendment proposed by Yousef.
City Council members are scheduled to discuss the fate of the BTR Communities Group, LLC application and Radwan Yousef’s application at their meeting on April 3 at 7 p.m. at Lincolnton’s City Hall.