Lincoln County won't be getting 552 new homes that would have been permitted if rezoning requests decided Monday night (Nov. 21st) had been approved. County Commissioners turned down five requests, four of which had also received recommendations for disapproval by the County Planning Board.
The five requests were all subjected to a public hearing on Nov. 7th. Because that meeting ran so long, the Planning Board recessed until last Monday (Nov. 14th) to consider the requests.
The first was a request from Taylor Morrison Homes to rezone 30.91 acres at the end of Creek Park Drive west of N. Little Egypt Road in Catawba Springs Township from R-T (Transitional Residential) to PD-R (Planned Development-Residential) to permit a subdivision with up to 55 single-family detached homes. The Planning Board voted 4-3 to recommend disapproval (James Dean, Doug Tallent, Kyle Land voted against that recommendation). Commissioners turned it down because of a lack of access to the proposed development. For the construction of the project, vehicles involved would have had to use a single entry through the Creek Park subdivision.
Another adjacent proposed project was also nixed by Commissioners. Pace Development Group, had requested rezoning 113.27 acres from R-T (Transitional Residential) to PD-R (Planned Development-Residential) to permit a subdivision with up to 199 single-family detached homes. That property is also located on the west side of N. Little Egypt Road at the intersection with Optimist Club Road in Catawba Springs Township. The Planning Board also voted 4-3 to recommend disapproval of that request. The same three members: James Dean, Doug Tallent, and Kyle Land disagreed). Commissioners were on the verge of also disapproving that request for a similar reason, but Planning Director Andrew Bryant supplied a new site plan from the applicant that had just been received Monday. The new plan would add another access road to the site. Commissioners voted to send the proposal back to the Planning Board, which will consider it again (as amended) in January--but for now, the answer is 'no.'
Garden Street Communities had two requests that were considered--and both turned down--Monday night. The first was a request to rezone 158.78 acres on the west side of Salem Church Road about 1700 feet south of its intersection with Keever Dairy Farm Road in Ironton Township from R-T (Transitional Residential) and R-SF (Residential Single Family) to PD-R (Planned Development-Residential) to permit a subdivision with up to 148 single-family detached homes. The Planning Board voted 5-2 to recommend approval (Kyle Land and Keith Gaskill opposed that motion). Commissioners voted 3-2 to deny the request (Commissioner Carrol Mitchem, still in rehab and attending remotely, and Commissioner Milton Sigmon voted against that decision). The decision was based on the proposal not being 'reasonable' because the proposed large development is in an area that is largely rural--with only small developments and large farms.
The other was a request to rezone 159.5 acres on the north side of NC 150 at its intersection with Shuford Road east of Lincolnton from R-S (Residential Suburban) and PD-R CU (Planned Development Residential Conditional Use) to PD-R (Planned Development-Residential) to permit a subdivision with up to 150 single-family detached homes. The Planning Board voted 4-3 to recommend disapproval (James Dean, Doug Tallent, Jim Konieczny opposed). Commissioners also voted 3-2 to turn down that request (Mitchem and Sigmon disagreed). Commissioners said that while the proposed project was consistent with the County's Unified Development Ordinance, it was not 'reasonable' because it was located in an area where land use transitions from suburban to rural. While that (for legal reasons) is the stated cause for denial, there was brief discussion of the impact the development might have on traffic. The proposal would have included a left turn lane from NC 150 east to Shuford Road and right turn lanes on NC 150 (to Shuford Rd.) and on Shuford Rd. The intersection is already overburdened (classified as an 'e' intersection on an a-b-c-d-e rating scale) and the traffic impact study said it would not be improved from that status by the new turn lanes if the development were approved, but it would not be worse--meeting the County's own requirement.
Commissioners also turned down a request from Timothy and Marian Dellinger to rezone 13.005 acres on the north side of Webbs Road at its intersection with Burton Lane in Catawba Springs Township from R-SF (Residential-Single Family) to R-S (Residential Suburban) to allow the construction of duplexes on the property. The Planning Board voted 4-3 to recommend disapproval (Kyle Land, Keith Gaskill, and Doug Tallent opposed). In that case, the Commissioners said the proposal was not in harmony with the County's UDO for that neighborhood. The vote was also 4-1 with Mitchem the sole 'no' vote on the disapproval.
Commissioners also got a report from County Tax Administrator Susan Sain, Chris Nelson, and John Shrell on the Revaluation of properties for tax purposes. Sain said the work is now 90-95% complete. The new Revaluation will be released in January and property owners will get a letter in February showing their new valuation. Sain said property owners who disagree with their valuation need to respond within 30 days after receiving that letter. The Board of Equalization and Review will consider appeals in April. "Please tell people not to wait until next July when they get their tax bill to object to the revalauation," she said. Sain noted that while property values have increased, that doesn't necessarily mean tax bills will increase by a similar amount: "that depends on what the new tax rate is come next July."
Nelson said about one-third of the properties in Lincoln County will have increased values of less than 50%, about a third will increase from 50-62%, and a third will see increases greater than 62%.
North Carolina counties are required to revalue properties for taxes at least every eight years, but most counties, including Lincoln, do it every four. Catawba, Gaston, and other area counties all have revaluations coming in early 2023. Cleveland County wasn't due a revaluation, but rapidly increasing values caused their stated property values to be far too low by state standards, and the state told them they had to do a revaluation now.
Nelson said the increase in marketplace values has also left Lincoln charging taxes on outdated values. "In 2019, we were at about 90%," he said, "but by 2021, we were using values (from the 2019 revaluation) less than 75% of what they should have been. That difference has grown even larger during 2022."
Commissioners also approved receiving grants for Transportation Lincoln County and for the Senior Center's transportation program and a matching amount of $16,666 for an anual grant from the FAA for the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Airport. The FAA will add another $150,000 bringing the total to $166,660 that can be used for airport improvements.
Monday night's was the final meeting for Commissioner Milton Sigmon. Sigmon, who has served four years on the board, said he believes Lincoln County is 'poised for great opportunity.' Jamie Lineberger, elected earlier this month, will take a seat on the Commissioners at their December 5th meeting. At that meeting, Commissioners will decide who'll be their chair and vice-chair for the coming year. Mitchem, who has been absent for health reasons for several meetings, was in attendance remotely Monday night. He is currently the chairman. Sigmon was vice-chairman for this year.
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