Residents: We don’t want it. Developer: Follow your own plan. County delays rezoning decision

Published 11:14 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

County commissioners delayed a decision earlier this month whether to approve an industrial rezoning request for land off Cana Road and US 601 North.

Commissioner Mark Jones made the motion to delay the decision, saying he needed questions answered, including those of annexation of the property into the town of Mocksville, traffic impacts and fire districts.

Blackwelder Investments requested the 105.5 acre tract be rezoned from agriculture and residential to general industrial. The county’s planning board unanimously recommended approval of the request.

Although the rezoning request was for a general use, much of the discussion at the commissioner’s meeting was about a somewhat specific plan by LDJ Global Strategies, which included conceptual plans for a road to the property that aligns with Ijames Church Road on US 601, as well as at least one entrance on Cana Road.

Attorney Hank VanHoy, speaking for LDJ Global, said the issue should be simple.

He pointed out that the county’s own plans have identified the exact property as being a site for industry for decades, as recently as 2019 when the county adopted a new comprehensive plan in 2019.

“This is not a surprise. This has been the use for this property for 12 years.”

The use may go back further, he said, as a portion of the property was used for industry since the 1950s. Residences were built while that industry was thriving, he said.

Terry Bralley, president of the Davie Economic Development Commission, sent a letter to board members telling them it is important for county boards to do what they say they will do. If the plan – for area residents and potential developers alike to see – says the area is meant to be industrial, the board should follow through with those promises.

“Follow your plan … and do what you said you would do,” Van Hoy said.

“Change happens. The neighbors oppose the change and that’s understandable and I respect their views. But that’s not the question before you. It is whether or not you’re going to follow you’re own land use plans,” Van Hoy said.

Will Dwiggins, speaking on behalf of the property owners, said it has been in his family for more than 60 years. He also pointed out all county plans identify the property as industrial.

“The timing is ideal,” he said, calling LDJ Global the exact type of business partner it seeks.

Residents, speaking during public speaking time and at a public hearing, weren’t so sure, and even questioned the county’s efforts in making sure area property owners were properly notified of the scope of the project. Many reported the often poor condition of
Cana Road.

“I know what I say will not change your mind, but at one time we had a quiet, safe community with very little traffic,” said Jake Cornelison. “We all knew each other. Things have changed.”

“Traffic is out of control. The industrial park will bring in more people, more crime, more traffic. When is enough enough? After a handful of people in this county make their millions … every tree in this county will be cut down,” Cornelison said.

Cana Road can’t take the big trucks associated with an industrial park, said Steven Correll, whose property faces the proposed rezoning. Businesses already can’t find enough employees locally, so it would bring more to the county. “It’s something I don’t think we need. It is not a necessity.”

Jeremy Keaton said the request doesn’t align with the county’s growth enhancement strategy. It also has typography challenges, as it drops 50-60 feet from Cana Road and US 601 to a pond near the lower edge of the property.

Jimmy Foster knows that well. He said he regularly gets items in his lake when heavy rains occur, everything from fabric remnants to garbage, enough at times to cause fish kills. “I’ve had problems through the years with drainage and runoff,” he said. “It’s been like a trash dump.”

Andrew and Emily Austin said they recently bought property in the area for the quiet, rural setting. None of their neighbors were aware of the scope of the proposal, and none had anything positive to say about it.

“Progress brings change, but that is not always a good thing,” Andrew said, mentioning the increased traffic, accidents and noise on Baltimore Road after Ashley Furniture located there. “Is that what you want Cana Road to become?”

The sign announcing the proposed rezoning was misleading, as were comments from County Planning Director Johnny Easter, he said, who told him there was a history of industry on the property. That history only involved a few acres, not the large scope proposed, Andrew said.

“I feel misled. Industrial sprawl is not something that I thought I would have to worry about in Davie County, but here we are.”

While board members were discussing LDJ Global plans, County Attorney Ed Vogler reminded them the request was for a general use, meaning any use allowed in general industrial could be put on the property.

“That makes it even more concerning,” said Jones. “I understand it’s a general use, but the details are getting specific. In general, I support the plan, but I need these questions answered.”

Board Chair James Blakley said results of a traffic study, already under way, would help in making the right decision.

The board meets at 6 p.m. on Nov. 7.