Editorial: Town, county experiencing some real growing pains

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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We’re experiencing some real growing pains.

Mocksville is annexing property in three directions. Why? Apartments. Houses. Businesses. Plans are in the books that could add perhaps a thousand or more residents to the town in coming years. They’ll have plenty of places to work, as well, thanks to rezoning requests – some already approved and some still in limbo. The good news is that annexations are requested by property owners. The town can’t just grab any property and bring it into town. The property owner(s) must request it. Your home may be safe from annexation, but not the farmland across the road.

Davie County has made some serious zoning decisions in recent years, and the requests keep coming in, at a time when the experienced local zoning staff has pretty much left for jobs elsewhere. It makes you wonder why.

On Monday, county commissioners are expected to vote on whether to rezone some 105 acres off US 601 North and Cana Road, a decision delayed from their last meeting. If rezoned, Mocksville is expected to annex the property. It’s zoned residential and agriculture now. Landowners are asking that it all be rezoned to general industrial.

That’s a big leap.

Board members said they needed more information before making a decision, including whether there will be roads to the property from Cana Road. People living on Cana Road should expect a road to the industry sites, if approved. It makes no sense to have the only outlet onto US 601, when a bulk of the flatter (Yes, there are terrain issues.), land is on the Cana Road side. And if rezoned, those residents can count on more to follow. Folks applying for a business rezoning always point out nearby business zonings. It helps the sprawl to continue.

One of the issues is that the piece of property has been identified as a site for industry since 2012. If so, why was it still zoned for agriculture or low-impact housing?

Davie’s economic developer, Terry Bralley, said it is important for county commissioners to agree with its own plans. In other words, if you say a property should be industrial, make it that way when someone comes forward with an investment. He’s right. We should do what we say we’re going to do.

But how did that property get identified as industrial in the first place? County officials will say that it was after months of study. We’ve seen these studies before, and while the county gives ample opportunity for public input, they rarely receive any from anyone who doesn’t have a vested interest in a particular piece of property. While they like to think of it as a plan of the people, it’s really the plan of a few people. And those few people usually have their owning training or agenda and easily convince others. That’s just the way it is. We only wish we knew how to get more people involved before the rezoning reaches someone’s back – or front – door.

This one goes even a step further, with opponents of the request questioning whether a county commissioner should recuse themself of the vote based on part ownership of property bought earlier this year adjacent to the US 601 North industrial site in question. If that is the case,  and no commissioner has recused themselves from discussing or voting on the issue, they should recuse themselves, if for no other reason, to keep people quiet about the reasons behind the purchase. It may be innocent; if it was, say so and let the rest of the board decide the fate of that property. There’s no reason for a county commissioner to vote on a matter they may even remotely have a vested interest in.

There are more accusations from opponents. Usually, these accusations are true. After all, we’re Davie County, and little gets done without many knowing about it.

The days of buying a home in the country with the expectation of it staying that way forever are gone. Real estate agents should be required to tell customers that.

This is a tough decision. Commissioners just have to decide whether it is best for the county. And be on the up and up. The integrity of the board is in the balance.

– Mike Barnhardt