Town says ‘yes’ to industrial rezoning, annexation

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Follow your plan.

Attorney Hank Van Hoy had that advice for members of the Mocksville Town Board last week.

And they took it.

On the line was a rezoning and annexation of 196 acres along Madison Road, US 64 West and Angell Knoll Ave. The land went from residential agricultural to industrial, with some conditions developers added after meeting with members of the adjacent community.

Dozens of those neighbors showed up at the public hearings last week, filling the EnergyUnited education building, opposed to the change they said will adversely affect their neighborhood and do nothing to add to what Mocksville says it wants for its future.

The board vote was unanimous.

“Follow your land use plan,” Van Hoy said. “People want to know if you, the ultimate decider, will follow your land use plan or not. If you don’t follow it, why have it?”

Van Hoy said the plan was developed by previous boards with plenty of chances of input from the public. The property, Van Hoy and other speakers said, was identified for industrial by the late Madison Angell, whose family still owns the land.

He told board members not to consider comments such as “I don’t want to see it,” who the parties involved are, how many show up in opposition, and “those who call you and threaten to take away business, which I understand has happened to this board.”

The previous board’s decision was proactive, not reactive. The US 601/US 64 corrider has been on the books as land to be developed for industry.

Van Hoy said he was representing Angell Junker LLC, including the Angell family, Bill Junker, and John Reece, and said to check the quality of the Davie Industrial Center the same group is developing off Interstate Drive.

Town Manager Ken Gamble assured the residents that the town has no intention of annexing their residences. In fact, they can’t. The only annexations allowed are ones that are requested by the property owner(s).

He said that if Madison Road is widened, the property would come from the rezoned side. Things such as traffic and ingresses and egresses are not known, and won’t be until studies and the N.C. Department of Transportation makes decisions.

Rick Steinbacher talked about his father-in-law, Madison Angell.

“Madison loved Mocksville. He loved Davie County. He loved and was beloved in this community. This zoning opportunity is 100 percent consistent with my father-in-law’s wishes,” Steinbacher said, adding the he had talked about the greater good that would be created by rezoning the property, which was being encroached upon by development.

“This rezoning is in the best interest for the community of Davie County and Mocksville.”

Diane Foster said that Angell was aware of the seasons, including the end of his farming seasons. “Madison had to plan, and he did that a few months after a sewer line went across the middle of his farming property.”

Angell met with local officials in 2005 to solidify his plan for the property to be developed, Foster said. “He came to have a vision of what his land could be. He patiently waited, put in a road (Angell Knoll Ave.) and sold a lot while still farming part of the property.”

Terry Bralley, president of the Davie Economic Development Commission, said it was Angell who came to him with positive comments about industrial development. Then he took off in Angell’s two-seat airplane from the property in question, flying around town looking at sites for development.

Bralley said that other companies had looked at buying the land, including Gildan and Phillip Van Heusen, and more recently, a foreign company.

“That’s an industrial site,” Bralley told the board. “It’s in your plan.”

“This is the story about a farmer, and the city that grew up around him,” Bralley said. “Madison said: ‘This is my inheritance for my family’.”

Those comments did little to ease the minds of residents of the area.

Sara Johnston said that industrial facilities will not attract college graduates, which is one of the goals of the town’s comprehensive plan, which also calls for protecting existing landowners.

Mark Johnston also referenced the plan, and said there is a lack of work force to support the industrial development in the works for Davie County and Mocksville. “People will come here to work from out of county … and take their money out of county. This does not make us want to stay in Mocksville.”

The plan says that people think vacant buildings should be used before new ones are built, and that 64 percent of residents in a survey wanted no more industrial development. “This is prime farmland, and 83 percent of the citizens think we should protect these things.”

Michael Bruebaker said that while not against change, the board should consider more buffers than ordinances currently require, and reduce the list of possible uses even further. “I request you give us, as a community, ga little time to come together.”

Belinda Brewer said that when she crosses the river bridge into Davie County, she breathes a sigh of relief. “I won’t have that any more. This is a situation where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Charlene Hayes said two Davie companies are already bringing in workers by bus, and said the board should consider some of the health factors employees face. She said she had not seen any restrictions on use of chemicals.

Angie Lakey referenced a petition signed by 152 residents of the area. “The people are what makes Mocksville what it is, not the town’s wealth. The comprehensive plan says people don’t want this.”

Doug Lakey said that while Madison Angell is an “all American hero,” the board needs to think hard before making its decision. “The decisions you make are going to affect your children and your grandchildren. I wouldn’t like future generations to look back and say … what were you thinking.”

Brad Hunter, former member of the Clemmons Planning Board, said the area is in a large housing shortage, and affordable housing for factory workers appears to be wanted by no community. “I don’t think you have enough information yet to make a great decision. The county commissioners, they approved Cana (Blackwelder inudstrial rezoning). They approved Farmington (Tri-West industrial rezoning). Slow down.”

Mayor Will Marklin thanked those for remaining civil during the emotional hearing. “That’s the way it should work.”

Board members said little.

Rob Taylor asked if there would be adequate buffers, because “some of these buildings can be huge.”

Jenny Stephenson said she was on the committee that recommended the  comprehensive plan, and said there was little public input to make assumptions about the desires of the whole community which speakers had referenced.

“This is a hard decision, and I am concerned about the buffer,” she said.

There was a brief silence when the mayor asked for a motion to approve, deny or delay a decision, until Justin Draughn made the motion to approve the requests. Taylor, Stephenson and Johnny Frye also voted in favor of the rezoning and annexation.

Board member Carl Lambert was not at the meeting because of a family emergency.