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City Council approves rezoning to allow Statesville Boulevard apartment complex

By Liz Moomey

liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Developers of Rowan Woodland Apartments got the OK from City Council Tuesday for a rezoning to allow for the 240-unit apartment complex on Statesville Boulevard.

Developers John Cranford, with Preston Development Group, and project representative Steve Causey, a civil engineer at Allied Design, Inc., received approval to combine parcels in the 2700 block of Statesville Boulevard and make them all corridor-mixed use, a zoning classification that allows high-density residential areas. The rezoning also had a conditional district overlay for the campus-style apartments. The conditional district overlay allows the applicant to request a special design proposal, said Senior Planner Catherine Garner.

The complex will have 10 residential buildings, one community buildings and several on-site accessory structures.

The apartments will be market rate ranging from $850-$1,300 a month. They will vary from one-, two- and three-bedrooms and be 725-1,150 sq. ft.

An existing house at the front of the soon-to-be complex will be demolished.

According to Garner, the Land Development Ordinance requires that 30% elevations that are along a street must be  visible or transparent, either with doors, windows, porches, balconies. The complex layout makes it challenging to meet this requirement for the developers.

“For this one facade, they have proposed an alternative design, which is a covered patio with benches and seating and some additional landscaping to try to soften the view and provide an additional amenity for community residents,” she said.

Realtor Margaret Lipe spoke in favor of the apartments, saying Rowan Woodland Apartments will promote development in this area. Residents will create a demand for more needs and services, she said.

She referenced a 2019 city housing study that said there was a shortage of affordable housing.

“They will provide nice, affordable housing and spur economic growth,” Lipe said. “I think it would be great for our city.”

Resident Dora Mbuwayesango said she wasn’t for or against the application. She asked the council to take into consideration how rent is determined and compare it to the city’s average paying jobs.

“The cost that I heard frightened me,” Mbuwayesango said.

Councilman Brian Miller responded.

“City Council doesn’t set rents,” Miller said. “That’s not what we do. We make a decision based on zoning. We make a decision — in this case campus-style — and whether or not the amenities — a part of this proposal — meet the criteria of the zone.”

Miller said apartment rates are determined by the cost of development and what rent the developers need to earn to offset those costs.

Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins said the city needs more affordable housing.

“Housing is just a fundamental right,” Heggins said. “It’s about basic dignity.”

Garner said the city has received a couple applications for affordable housing requests.

Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield asked city staff to determine the city’s affordable housing stock, but also what the need was.

Heggins asked what incentives the city has for developers to keep their cost low.

The apartment complex project received no incentives from the city or county.

“We’re happy to have developers that do their own self-financing, and it doesn’t take away tax-payer resources to give incentives,” Mayor Karen Alexander said.

Developers will now submit construction documents and go through a review to ensure they are meeting all applicable city ordinances. They will also later come back to council for approval to be annexed into the city limits for water and sewer connections.

Planning Board unanimously recommended the rezoning at its Jan. 14 meeting.

Other business:

• The council initially added to their agenda a resolution in support of a $45 million bond referendum on the March 3 primary ballot. The money would build a fire decontamination facility, a building for Rowan County Early College and other high school students as well as capacity for the college’s automotive, welding and machining programs. The bond would require a 3-cent property tax increase.

City Attorney Graham Corriher advised against voting on the resolution, referencing state statute that says “A municipality shall not use public funds to endorse or oppose a referendum, election or a particular candidate for elective office.”

The resolution was removed from the agenda.

• The council received a presentation from Planning Director Hannah Jacobson and Garner about ways citizens can participate in visioning for the Forward 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Throughout this month, the committee members will host “meeting in a box” to get input from others about what citizens priorities are and what areas in the city should stay the same or change, and host “pop-up community visioning.”

• The council approved authorizing a sale of a parcel on the 300 block of Grim Street. Truland Development LLC is the potential purchaser and owns an adjacent parcel.

• The Council adopted a resolution to terminate existing contracts for tank maintenance with Salisbury-Rowan Utilities.

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