By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — The Salisbury Planning Board on Tuesday approved a rezoning request for the development of 236 single family homes on Rowan Mills Road near the existing subdivision of Forest Glen.
Justin Mueller of Sherwood Development Group is working with Bloc Design, PLLC, to develop the subdivision on nearly 137 acres of land near the corner of Mooresville and Rowan Mill roads. The development is called “Grants Landing,” with Grants Creek running along the back perimeter.
The developer requested the rezoning of three parcels currently on the property from rural residential to general residential, or GR-3, with a new conditional district overlay. With overlays, developments are approved with additional conditions that must be met, typically to appease nearby residents and ensure minimal impact.
Developers are currently working with the city to voluntarily annex nearly 78 acres on the property into the city’s limits. Development Services Manager Teresa Barringer said the subdivision is not within the city’s public transit route.
The project is estimated to cost $58.5 million. Joe Untz of Sherwood Development Group told Planning Board members construction may begin as early as next summer, but it’s more likely to begin later given the current challenges with building supplies. He estimates each home would measure between 1,800 and 2,400 square feet, with the cost for each home expected in the $200,000s to upper $300,000s.
The plan proposes sidewalks on both sides and the addition of street lights and public street trees. Each lot measures 55 by 100 feet. A little more than five acres would be dedicated to recreational open space. Entrances and exits from the subdivision would be located on Rowan Mills Road. Additionally, two retention ponds would be on the property to mitigate stormwater.
Sherwood Development is working with the Forest Glen Homeowners Association to finalize an agreement on the natural buffer along the perimeter of the subdivision. Tameka Felton, who lives on the abutting Ashton Lane, said buffer was a big concern of hers as her home is located in an area where the natural foliage is sparse, meaning she would be looking directly into the backyards of the homes at Grants Landing.
George Simons, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, said he estimates it would cost Sherwood Development around $50,000 to add vegetation to the existing foliage and natural buffer.
Development could begin after city council approval.
In other items at the meeting:
• Board members approved a text amendment to the existing land development ordinance related to local historic landmarks. Changes were requested by city council members in February following the approval of a six-month moratorium on designating local structures with the status. The intent with the moratorium was to clarify what qualifies as a landmark property.
Since then, city staff have received input from local stakeholders to draft revisions and changes to the city’s historic landmark status ordinance. City staff brought the revised draft to Planning Board in a June meeting, but members requested more clarity on the criteria that must be met for the designation.
With the proposed changes, applicants would be seeking designation in one of two categories. The “property” categorization entails any building, structure, site, district or object that may or may not be listed on the National Register of Historic Places that is an “outstanding example of historic resources and is intended to be recognized for its architectural integrity.” Those properties must have “special significance” in at least one of four criterion and “integrity” in all seven related criterion. Integrity criteria includes location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.
Special significance, defined by the Department of the Interior, can be applied to properties associated with events or notable persons in the community as well as those that yielded or may be likely to yield important information in the community’s history. Additionally, special significance is intended to embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction with high artistic value.
The draft now includes a second category that’s meant to apply to structures that otherwise may not have been eligible. A “cultural” categorization can apply to buildings, structures, sites, districts or objects important to the culture and diversity of Salisbury and have come to represent a part of the city’s cultural heritage for at least 25 years. Some properties that could fall into this category include schools, churches, art centers, theaters, entertainment halls, stores and businesses. Other eligible structures include those “able to provide physical records of experience among particular ethnic groups,” and sites representative of or associated with particular social, ethnic or economic groups during a certain time period.
Properties under the “cultural” category must have special significance in one of two categories related to the association with events or people who have made a significant contribution to the city’s history. Additionally, integrity in the four categories of location, setting, feeling and association must also be met.
All properties with either designation would be eligible for up to 50% in tax exemption and be required to obtain a certificate of appropriateness prior to any work. Jacobson clarified the tax incentive is with the combined city and county rate. However, the county tax assessor could reduce the tax deferral rate, especially if only a portion of the property is designated with the landmark status. To date, about half a dozen properties have received the designation since the program’s inception in 2017.
Additionally, Jacobson said property owners would still be subject to a visit to the Historic Preservation Commission before making any exterior changes to the property.
The ordinance now calls for a pre-application to be submitted to the city’s Development Services to begin the process of approval or denial by the HPC. If approved, a report is submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office for the required 30-day comment review. The state office does not provide a recommendation, but will deliver comments to Salisbury’s HPC prior to a public hearing. Recommendations from that hearing would be provided to council members, who will hold a public hearing before issuing a final decision.
• Members Yvonne Dixon and Liliana Spears were sworn in as new members.