Stanly commissioners deny rezoning request for proposed Ridgecrest storage facility

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners unanimously denied a request by a Ridgecrest land owner for a conditional use permit for a proposed storage facility at Monday’s meeting.

Following the unanimous recommendation of the planning board, commissioners denied Sam Estridge’s request for a conditional district zoning at 24352 Ridgecrest Road.

In his motion, Vice Chairman Mike Barbee moved to deny the request because the proposed 200-unit facility “would be located in an area identified as a Rural Preservation Area in the recently adopted land-use plan. Commercial development is discouraged in Rural Preservation Areas.”

Commissioner Brandon King seconded the request, which passed 7-0.

Bailey Emrich, a planner from the county’s planning department, presented the request to commissioners. Emrich stated the property was next to Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church cemetery.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto asked what else could be put on the land. Emrich said “the property could be subdivided per current zoning of R/A. Four lots or less is a minor subdivision. Our ordinance currently allows for 30,000-square-foot lots in the R/A district, 40,000 if it’s in the watershed.”

Estridge spoke for the project, along with Peggy Springer, during the public hearing. Springer said her office was on N.C. Highway 24-27 beside the Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store, both of which are next to a storage facility.

“There’s no confusion. There’s no congestion. There’s never been an accident there because of that storage facility. Everything is quiet,” Springer said.

She added storage facilities “are a profitable business” and “a necessary item.”

After the meeting, Estridge said the decision was not a big deal for him though “it was not in favor of progress in Stanly County.”

He added, “I just think they made the decision because they had a quantity of influence on the other side.”

During the public hearing, several members of the community spoke against the facility. Walter Furr said he mows the grass at the cemetery and can not get out quickly when leaving the facility with the mower on his eight-foot trailer.

“You can’t just jump out there,” Furr said. “I just don’t think that’s a good location for (the facility).”

Traffic was a concern from several residents, including Rick Love, who said, “I wouldn’t come to your home and try to drive you out. Why do they want to come and drive us out? Because of the traffic, I can’t even get out of my own driveway.”

Along with traffic, noise from the facility was mentioned as a concern by Ellen Gaskins, who said she was “so happy” about the commissioners denying the request after the board’s denial.

“There are just too many reasons against having it,” Gaskins said, disputing Springer’s assertions of storage facilities not having excess noise and trash.

Andrew Mullis presented a petition to the commissioners with 100 names against the rezoning request, adding he had family buried in the cemetery.

After the meeting, Mullis said the decision “was the best thing that could happen to the community. The community needed something to tell them, ‘Hey, you know what? Your voice has been heard.’ And I believe it was tonight.”