Statesville’s city council unanimously approved the rezoning request of Martin Marietta’s property around the quarry, but the hearing on the Special Use Permit involved with the property will continue on April 28 at 6 p.m.
The status of the land use will be discussed at that meeting. There are questions concerning whether the current land use policy would have to be amended to allow the changes Martin Marietta is requesting.
Martin Marietta requested that five pieces of property of the company be rezoned to become part of the current quarry operations. In addition to that request, the company asked the city for permission to move some of its equipment (crushing and screening machinery) within the property.
Statesville Planning Director Sherry Ashley said the rezoning request didn’t expand its quarry pit into the five properties involved, but would allow Martin Marietta to move their other parts of its operations into those areas. The request would let the company move their buffer zones onto those properties and put freshwater and settling ponds on those parcels of land.
Some of the tension from the rezoning proposal comes from the quarry’s proximity to residential homes and the Pressly Group’s property, which they plan to develop into a residential housing complex for seniors. James Pressly previously said that the settling ponds would be visible from the windows of the structure his group had proposed. In an illustration of a cross-section of the quarry property, Martin Marietta contends what wouldn’t be visible due to buffers and trees on the property.
Once Ashley had addressed the council, the hearing was opened up for Martin Marietta and the opponents of the request to speak.
Mayor Costi Kutteh read a comment from Thomas F. Shevlin, who lives on Cartway Lane. In the letter, Shevlin wrote that an “increase in the use of explosives, some more explosive than others, since buying my house, has risen significantly.” Shevlin also cited the increased truck traffic from the quarry the size of those vehicles as a reason to vote no.
Tom Johnson, an attorney representing Martin Marietta, then addressed some of the concerns after Alex Jolly, a plant manager, made his statement about the long history of the quarry and dismissed rumors of a concrete or asphalt plant being added to the property.
“It’s to make the production more efficient, and as was said earlier, better for the environment,” Johnson said of Martin Marietta’s plans. He said it would be a $40 million investment by the company while saying the company spent $528,000 toward local businesses last year, as well as $385,000 in utilities to Statesville. He also noted the company paid $124,000 in taxes and that with another recent purchase, would add more than $36,000 annually.
He also stated the changes wouldn’t violate the city’s noise ordinance and the blasts from the quarries operations were below state limits, according to the company’s report.
After the company’s presentation, Pressly spoke and portrayed the company as Wall Street pushing in on Statesville and didn’t have the city’s best interests in mind. He said if the rezoning request went through, it would likely stop the Pressly Group’s plans.
“If council votes to approve this rezoning and expansion, it will most likely stop this development at a time when there is incredible demand for this type of senior designed housing in this community. You will literally be crushing that opportunity for so many citizens of Statesville and in Iredell County that desperately needs this type of housing,” he said.
Pressly restated his concerns that the city wasn’t following its own policy for land use, which he said would put residential up against heavy industrial. The city said previously the small area plan for that area was never officially adopted by the city.
Gerald Green also spoke against the rezoning request and said that the Unified Development Code for the city wouldn’t allow for the change. He also said the city had not fully followed the rules for public notice involved. He also said the tax benefits for the city allowing the expansion were overstated.
Craig Justice spoke on behalf of the Pressly Group as well, citing some of the same issues with the city’s policies on land use and said it conflicted with the city’s rules.
“At the end of the day, you have a number of provisions of your code that talks about the importance of a comp(rehensive) plan. It’s in your code it says how important it is,” Justice said. “I don’t think there’s any dispute, before tonight, that the proposal of Marin Marietta to expand the facility is counter or in conflict with your comprehensive plan.”
“I say that there should be no doubt about that because generally the staff report generally, usually, when the comp plan is relied upon, the quote certain sections and say it’s consistent. But the staff report did not say that. In fact, it said how outdated your plans was and seemed to make an excuse for the comp plan, but there’s nothing in the staff report than notes consistency.”
Justice said if there was a change to the comprehensive plan, a notice would have to go out to property owners nearby.
A public comment period followed, with several citizens asking if Martin Marietta would have free reign to make changes down the road. Another worried about environmental issues that they didn’t feel were addressed.
Follow Ben Gibson on Facebook and Twitter at @BenGibsonSRL