A controversial 250-unit housing development in Maiden will move forward following approval by the Maiden Town Council on Tuesday.
The vote was unanimous, with Councilman Danny Hipps, Councilman Bob Sigmon, Councilman Ronnie Williams, Councilwoman Beth Rudisill and Councilwoman Trina Michael voting in favor.
The vote comes three months after the council rejected an earlier plan from Cornelius-based company Prestige Corporate Development for 349 houses at the same property, which is located off GKN Way and JW Abernathy Plant Road with access to Business U.S. 321.
The revised plan decreased the number of houses and increased lot sizes. The Maiden Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected the revised plans in a 3-2 vote in May.
Representatives from Prestige previously said they expected to begin building roughly 18 months after approval and would proceed in phases with the goal of completing all the houses in about six years.
The council approved a development agreement under which the town would either construct some of the sewer infrastructure for the project or reimburse the company for the construction.
A debate over the future of Maiden
There was impassioned input from the public, with more than a dozen people voicing their opinions at the meeting.
Just as in the previous meeting on the first draft of the planned development, the majority who spoke were in opposition.
The reasons for opposition were similar to those of the previous meeting: concern over the impact on the small-town quality of life and on the town’s resources.
Prior to the public hearing, Town Manager Todd Herms shared numbers indicating city resources are sufficient to handle the new people.
Residents David Devine and Jamie Henry said they had petitions against the development. Devine said he gathered 290 signatures for his petition.
Henry read some of the comments from the petition in opposition to the development.
“This will hurt our cozy little town, and we love it as is,” one petitioner wrote. “Go to another city and leave our town alone.”
Other speakers worried that the new development would bring in people who held political and religious values that would be at odds with those of the existing community.
Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Poovey called the development “the beginning of the changing of (Maiden’s) values.”
He also said newcomers would bring unwelcome change.
“Did you like that prayer that we said before we started the meeting?” Poovey said. “Guess what happens when you get new people influxing the town that don’t hold your values? Say goodbye to your prayer before your meeting.”
Some spoke in favor of the project.
The proponents of the project argued it would provide the growth needed to make sure the community had a future and enough workforce to support industries.
At 31, Megan Gilbert, a member of the town’s planning board who voted in favor of the project, said she was likely the youngest person to speak at the meeting.
She said the development, with its smaller lot sizes, appealed to her and other young professionals who did not want to devote most of their time to maintaining their yards.
It could also be a good fit for some retirees for the same reason, she added.
“I think that we need to think about the future,” Gilbert said. “I have a 7-month-old. I don’t know what will be here by the time he’s old enough to graduate from high school and whether he’s going to want to come back because I don’t know if we’re going to have anything to leave him.”
Wesley Deaton, an attorney and Maiden resident, argued it would be shortsighted and complacent of the town to block the development.
“Now, right now, we’re in a good position,” Deaton said. “We’ve got Apple, but we need more than Apple here in this town for the future.”
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.