11/6/2022 5:10:00 AM Council Election May Be Harbinger of Lincolnton's Future
Wayne Howard Reporter
The Lincolnton City Council is divided. That has become obvious in recent votes on residential developments and most recently in Thursday's (Nov. 3rd) vote on rezoning for a possible new industry.
For anyone not already familiar, the Council voted in several recent cases--including Thursday--two to two; and in all chose cases, Mayor Ed Hatley broke the tie by voting in favor of the rezoning requests.
A couple of the proposed residential developments were in the Startown Road/Clarks Creek Road area. A plethora of local residents spoke at public hearings opposing those requests, but they were approved. While they were located outside the city, they were in the City's zoning jurisdictional area. [The developments will be annexed into the city once they are completed.]
The neighbors didn't want the developments. They wanted to keep things as they are.
The disagreement seems to center on whether Lincolnton wants to remain a small town or grow. There are many who want the county to remain mostly rural. Some fear that new developments will bring some unwelcome neighbors. They often equate higher density residential development with crime.
In the rezoning request approved last Thursday, there was no proposal for new homes. Edgewater Ventures wants to build a spec building, what could become a new factory, on Car Farm Road near the Maiden Highway.
At a community meeting on the proposal and at a public hearing on a similar request earlier this year, area residents vehemently opposed the rezoning. Some said it would cause more truck traffic on all of Car Farm Road and on Shuford Road which continues from the end of Car Farm Road to NC 150. Most said they don't believe a traffic signal which will be installed at the intersection of Car Farm Road and the Maiden Highway will help what is already a difficult traffic situation.
The original plan by Edgewater, turned down by the Council, would have created a building that would likely have been used as a warehouse; but the revised plan would build one that might become a factory employing from 130 to 185 people.
Among those who spoke in favor of the proposal Thursday night was LEDA Director Cliff Brumfield and the chairman of the Lincolnton Planning Board,Trent Mason, himself a plant manager. The Planning Board had unanimously recommended approval.
Two residents of the area, Pat Stolicker and Burton Leonard, who said he lives at the intersection of Car Farm Road and the Maiden Highway, spoke against. Stolicker said the developer's promise that trucks exiting the location would turn right and head for US 321 was uneforceable.
Councilman Roby Jetton wanted the Council to wait to vote "until we learn what NCDOT is going to do." Christine Poinsette made the motion to approve, and Marty Eaddy joined her in voting 'yes.' Jetton and Mary Frances White voted 'no.' Mayor Hatley's 'yes' vote broke the tie.
That's the way it has happened in all of those recent cases. It's not a partisan divide. Poinsette and Jetton are both Republicans. Neither is up for election this year. Eaddy and White (both Democrats) are; and what makes Tuesday's election very important is that just one vote switching sides in these cases could make a huge difference in the future of Lincolnton.
One side wants to keep things as they are; the other says failure to grow will end the recent upsurge in downtown business development. Since City elections involve a smaller total number of voters, your vote may actually make a difference.