Locust rezoning hearing generates questions on development

A public hearing on conditional rezoning of a 507-acre tract north of Locust drew numerous questions and concerns from area residents at Locust’s Jan. 11 council meeting.

Kolter Homes is requesting a rezoning from Open Space (OPS) to Open Space – Conditional (OPS-C).

The proposal, submitted as part of the Cresswind at Rocky River project, would include 1,105 units in an age-restricted, 55-and-up active retirement community to be developed off Bethel Church and Coley Store roads.

According to information from the City of Locust website, the applicant is currently working with Stanly County Utilities on a development agreement for required improvements to surrounding water lines in order to ensure appropriate water supply and fire suppression pressure. The city has also received a traffic impact analysis and is waiting to meet with NCDOT to finalize traffic improvements in the area of the development.

During the hearing, 13 citizens posed questions and concerns related to the project. The sufficiency of infrastructure to serve the added facilities was the primary concern expressed. Additional concerns included increased traffic volume in the area, as well as possible environmental impacts on area wildlife and farm animals.

Following the public hearing, the council voted unanimously to delay a vote on the matter to its meeting on March 14.

In other business, the council:

● Heard a report from City Manager Cesar Correa on a sewer emergency resulting from a failed control panel at the city’s Meadowcreek Pump Station.

● Received a report from Strickland Hardee PLLC on the city’s financial audit for the 2022-23 fiscal year, describing “no findings of any kind” and summarizing the city’s financial position as “strong.”

● Scheduled public hearings on two voluntary annexations, one rezoning and one text amendment. All four are scheduled for the board’s Feb. 8 meeting.

● Scheduled the council’s budget retreat for March 9.

● Granted permission to the city manager to apply for the International City/County Management Association scholarship to attend the Harvard Kennedy Leadership program. If accepted, the scholarship would be for $17,400 to attend a three-week program at Harvard.

● Recognized police chaplain Mario Miller as Locust Police Department’s “Citizen of the Year” and officers Eric Fore and Josh Gardner as “Officers of the Month.”

● Voted to purchase 10 acres of land on North Market Street identified on the City of Locust Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

The Council will next meet at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Joel Huneycutt Community Room at Locust City Hall.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.