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Catawba County commissioners deny rezoning for 141-unit housing project

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The Catawba County Board of Commissioners rejected a rezoning request from homebuilder D.R. Horton on Monday, blocking the company’s plans to build a 141-unit development on West Maiden Road.

The developer sought a change of the zoning from an industrial classification to a residential one.

While county staff recommended approval, the county planning board voted against the project 6-3.

The proximity of the property to the Martin Marietta quarry was a major sticking point for the planning board.

County Commissioners Randy Isenhower and Sherry Butler shared that concern. Commissioner Kitty Barnes said she was curious to learn more about other D.R. Horton projects located near quarries but had not received information from the company.

Isenhower also said he believed it was in the county’s best interest to keep the land open for potential business.

“The long-term plan for this was for industrial use,” Isenhower said. “I know it’s not come to fruition, but with regard to the recent activity we’ve had in this county, I think that’s still probably the best use for this.”

Butler and Barnes said they were concerned about the safety of adding additional traffic on West Maiden Road.

“If you’re pulling out of there and going left, cars do not travel on that road at the speed limit,” Butler said.

Commissioners Barbara Beatty and Austin Allran did not speak during the discussion but joined the other three commissioners in voting down the rezoning request.

Prior to the vote, D.R. Horton representative Tim Derylak tried to set aside concerns about the quarry, saying he had met with leaders from Martin Marietta and that the quarry’s operations would not damage the homes.

He also said the company would be providing disclosure forms to prospective buyers alerting them to the quarry.

Regarding traffic, Derylak said the company would have to position the entry and exit points to the property to ensure adequate sight distance and would add turn lanes.

Two people spoke during the public hearing for the rezoning — one pro, the other con.

Commissioners honored

Barnes and Butler

Outgoing Catawba County Commissioners Kitty Barnes, left, and Sherry Butler display their Distinguished Public Service Awards at the end of their last meeting as board members on Monday.

Monday’s meeting was the last for commissioners Kitty Barnes and Sherry Butler.

Barnes, who has served on the board since 1998, declined to seek another term. Butler did run for a third term this year but was defeated in the Republican primary.

At the end of the meeting, Isenhower presented Barnes and Butler with Distinguished Public Service awards. He cited their dedication to the county and achievements in areas such as education and the arts.

“I’m deeply honored,” Barnes said upon receiving the award.

Butler said it was an honor to serve. Pointing to the county seal on the wall, Butler said: “I’m very proud of what that seal stands for in this county, very honored to be a citizen.”

Newly-elected board members Robert Abernethy and Cole Setzer are set to take their seats in December.

Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.

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