City Council refuses to adopt ‘Regional Vision Agenda’
By Hugh Fisher
Kannapolis City Council held its October meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the Kannapolis Train Station.
Councilman Gene McCombs was absent due to illness. All other council members were present. Councilman Richard Anderson gave the invocation.
Business before the council included the following:
• Council members turned down a request to adopt the CONNECT Regional Vision and Action Agenda, a measure that would have asked Kannapolis to agree to a set of standards for growth and resource management.
Al Sharp, executive director of the Centralina Council of Governments, presented the plan to the council.
If adopted, Kannapolis would have agreed to use CONNECT’s agenda as “a guide in their own decision-making about community growth,” according to the draft resolution.
A liaison from Kannapolis would have been appointed to attend work sessions and discuss the city’s growth strategies with representatives of other county and municipal governments in North Carolina and South Carolina.
But council members balked at the suggestion that Kannapolis would limit its opportunities.
Councilman Richard Geathers noted that potential CONNECT member governments included those suing Kannapolis and challenging the interbasin transfer agreement to bring water from the Catawba River.
Mayor Pro Tem Randy Cauthen was concerned about the potential of giving up Kannapolis’ ability to compete with other cities and counties for business investment.
“We also want a shot at other types of development,” Cauthen said.
Councilman Darrell Hinnant said he worries that this compact would add another layer of government bureaucracy to planning.
“How can you tell me that this is not another layer of ‘meet and eat?’ ” Hinnant said, referring to regular invitations he gets for luncheon discussions.
Kannapolis is one of about 10 municipalities to turn down the agreement, out of some 20 surveyed, according to Sharp.
The largest potential member groups, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, will take up the measure after next week’s election.
• After another round of debate, the council chose an option for modifying the city’s unified development ordinance to allow businesses to get approval for certain pre-existing exterior signs.
The final unanimous vote provides an avenue for tenants of strip malls who want to replace individual exterior signs.
Under the development ordinance, a multi-tenant building could only have one marquee-type sign with the names of all businesses.
Signs that existed before the law took effect still stand, but locations with a pole and no sign were not immediately permitted to replace them.
Anderson first brought the case of the Merita Bread Store on North Cannon Boulevard to the council’s attention on Aug. 11.
The store, part of a multi-unit building, had a signpost from which a lighted sign had been removed.
Anderson argued strenuously for changes to the law to allow individual signs without the expense or potential to be turned down.
Under the existing law, the store would have had to pay a $300 fee and go before the Board of Adjustment to get permission to replace the sign.
“Should the Board of Adjustment not agree, then that request is dead in the water, unless they (the business owners) want to pursue it in the courts,” Anderson said.
Anderson moved to adopt a new ordinance that would have gone back to the old policy allowing each tenant its own sign. But that motion died without a second.
Councilman Geathers then moved for another option presented by city staff, allowing multiple signs for existing developments if the Board of Adjustment agrees — in essence, giving an official status to the previous process.
Councilman Darrell Hinnant seconded that motion. It passed unanimously.
But Anderson then moved to waive the $300 fee to have the Merita store’s case heard by the Board of Adjustment.
Cauthen seconded Anderson’s motion. After members discussed the precedent that such a vote would set, the measure failed 2-to-4, with Hinnant, Geathers, Roger Haas and Mayor Bob Misenheimer opposing it.
• The council unanimously approved a measure to use Community Development Block Grant funds to plan and construct the extension of Wood Street in central Kannapolis.
Extension of this street over an existing gravel service road will allow development on nearby land Prosperity Unlimited owns.
A 17-unit subdivision of affordable single-family homes is planned for that parcel. Approximately $1 million in grant money will be devoted to the project.
• The council voted unanimously to earmark proceeds from a forthcoming book of historic Kannapolis photographs for use in local preservation activities.
The book, produced by the city, will be published in December; and 2,000 copies are being ordered. The books will cost about $35.