Gary L Herman
Alexander County may see a new housing development in Bethlehem after the Board of Commissioners approved a zoning text amendment for a 34-acre parcel off Heritage Farm Road. The board voted to allow single-family attached homes in the Residential Single Family (R-SF) zoning district as requested by Oscar Vasquez of First Time Homes LLC.
Attorney Robert Campbell, who represents Vasquez and his company, said approximately 200 single-family and townhomes are planned for this project.
Brian Burgess, Alexander County Planning and Development Director, said Vasquez’ property is the only parcel in the county that is zoned R-SF. He said the housing density on the parcel will remain at a maximum of seven homes per acre.
Commission Vice Chairman Josh Lail said, “We are in dire need of affordable housing in Alexander County, and this is a step in the right direction.”
• Commissioners approved a special use permit requested by Heather Payne to open a place of assembly in the Residential-Agricultural (RA-20) zoning district. The property is located at 4695 Paul Payne Store Road. Burgess said the property is currently vacant except for a greenhouse which the owner wishes to use to offer educational opportunities and meeting spaces for those involved in gardening and related activities, and potentially use as an event space. Burgess said the proposed use is consistent with the Alexander County Comprehensive Plan
• Burgess also presented an assortment of text amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance as he and the staff have been reviewing the document. The proposed amendments pertain to outdoor lighting, special use permits, planning & zoning commission, temporary signs, zoning violation penalties, and land-use nuisances. Commissioners voted to table the text amendment petition to allow more time for review and discussion. Since the meeting, it was noted that two of the amendments (special use permit and planning & zoning commission) need to be approved; therefore, the board will hold a special called meeting on Thursday, April 6 at 1:00 p.m. in the office of the Clerk to the Board.
• Alexander County DSS Director Thomas Mitchell expressed the need for a document management system for social services staff. Mitchell introduced Chris Mease of Northwoods, which is a technology company focused on human services, who presented information about the company’s Traverse software. Mease said that Traverse is a cloud-based document management, forms management, and mobility software that will assist in the areas of child support, child welfare, and adult services. There are currently 16 NC counties that utilize the Traverse system. He said the software will save an employee about two hours each day, allowing them to have more time with clients. Traverse would cost $94,000 for professional services to set up the software with an annual subscription fee of $90,000, with both fees eligible for reimbursement of approximately 50 percent. Commissioners asked to see more detailed cost information and took no action on the matter.
• Commissioners approved three budget amendments. The main amendment pertains to the close-out of the Bethlehem sewer line extension and pump station upgrade project that was completed $194,011 under budget, which will be returned to the county’s general fund.
• During the public comment period, Hiddenite resident Ryan Beckham expressed the need for regulation soccer fields in Alexander County. He said there are 35 teams this season, and he believes soccer is the fastest-growing sport in the county. Beckham said teams must play on baseball outfields, and encouraged commissioners to build soccer fields or a soccer complex somewhere in the county.
• The county entered into an agreement with the Town of Taylorsville to provide building and fire inspection services. County staff will conduct fire inspections, review plans, and issue permits within the town. The county will retain the inspection and permit fees.
• Commissioners made the following appointments: Local Emergency Planning Committee – Sheriff Chad Pennell (3-year term) and David Himebaugh (2-year term).
The next meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners is set for Monday, April 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education (room #103). Regular meetings are recorded and can be viewed on the county’s Government Channel on Spectrum channel 192 or the county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/alexandercountync. Meeting agendas, minutes, videos, and more are available on the county’s website at https://alexandercountync.gov/commissioners.