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Homeowners want industrial zoning undone; issue arises Thursday


Russell Galloway’s house and barn is among farm lots that McMurray/Ballenger Road residents want rezoned back to residential. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Eager to make their case publicly on Thursday, April 21, they want to protect such land-use options as building a home for a relative on spacious, multi-acreage land.

Industrial rezoning was recently done in properties bounded by McMurray Road and Ballenger Road, heading northward from Upward Road toward Tracy Grove Road, County Business and Community Development Director John B. Mitchell said.

McMurray is the first road (going left only), after crossing over I-26 away from Hendersonville. It briefly runs parallel to I-26 from Upward, starting from Mountain Inn & Suites. The road soon veers rightward, past the red barn landmark of Bloomfield’s (formerly Dish Barn) then McAbee’s Fruit Stand, by farms then the two light industrial sites.


This view of farmland off McMurray Road (at right) is from Coastal AgroBusiness and Russell Galloway’s drive. Ebby Manor Road is in the distance, heading left from McMurray. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Residents are also concerned about soil erosion and stormwater runoff that has risen since industry emerged. They question planning review conclusions that the area’s topography is fine for industry to feasibly operate there. They see flooding as making this longtime farm area ill-suited for industrialization, fueling debate over what extent it indeed hinders industry and what types might still work there.

This rezoning issue is on the agenda of the County Planning Board regular meeting Thursday. It starts at 5:30 p.m. Rezoning application R-2016-01 McMurray/Ballenger Road is the sole old business. That is early, after public input. The site is 100 N. King St. Commissioners decide on such zoning issues, and could do so as early as next month.

The McMurray/Ballenger section is within a broader area of regional commercial and industrial zoning districts, Mitchell emphasized. Already, Coastal AgroBusiness Inc. has been at McMurray Road, for three years. Blue Rock Commerce Centre is across the road, next to a large fruit field. It has five businesses in, with room for two more.

Further, industrial zoning follows planning guidelines set in community plans. Dana’s plan was approved by commissioners a year and a half ago, on Nov. 19, 2014. The commissioners-appointed Dana Community Plan Advisory Committee called for “high-intensity” industry, in parts of Dana. Mitchell said “they designate areas of (most suitable) future commercial use,” with such factors as “community infrastructure and transportation networks” — which got a thumbs up with utilities and I-26 so close.

A precedent for reverting zoning back to residential happened Aug. 3, 2015. Commissioners approved Larry Hill and Linda Holbert’s request for their half-acre at Sugarloaf Road and Piney Mountain Road to go from local commercial (LC) back to R2R rural residential. That is apart from the McMurray/Ballenger area targeted for industry.

County planner Kyle Guie, who will present the issue to the Planning Board Thursday, wrote he suggests commissioners decide on the R1 rezoning request “based on the recommendations of the Henderson County 2020 Comprehensive Plan, Dana Community Plan, and other relevant planning documents” such as a recent Industrial/Business Park study that customize the county’s Land Development Code of 2007 for unincorporated areas. Those plans eyed industry in Dana, such as along Howard Gap Road toward Upward Road.

A more rural area with fewer homes has fewer owners impacted less by industry than higher-density neighborhoods, Mitchell acknowledged. But more importantly in deciding where to locate, he notes, “industries look for where there is proximity to water and sewer” such as in emerging corridors as I-26 and Upward Road.

Current Commission Chr. Tommy Thompson chaired Dana’s advisory group. He represents the area. The advisory panel met 16 meetings times publicly over a year and a half, through March 2011. The group held public input sessions Nov. 9, 2009 with about 60 people attending, and a year later with 75 there, Mitchell added. The Planning Board endorsed industrial zoning, then commissioners held a public hearing before voting it in.

“We want local folks to have a say in the zoning, and future land use in their communities — what they’d like it to look like,” Mitchell said. The latest group, for East Flat Rock, meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the King Street meeting room.

Most McMurray/Ballenger residents indicated they want 67.34 acres of the 87.6 acres (on 24 parcels) that switched from R1 low-density residential to industrial (I) to revert back to allowable residential use.

The prior change also had 222.7 acres go from R2R rural residential to basic R1, Mitchell noted. R2R is more “transitional” in 2014 definitions, allowing light industry.

Zones vary in permitted uses and density — “the number of homes you can build” on a tract, Mitchell said. “You could not put an industrial use on a residential-zoned parcel,” necessitating industrial zoning to do so.

Conversely, the dilemma for homeowners in industrial zoning is they cannot build or greatly alter residential structures, or put in manufactured home parks. Special-use permits are not an option.

Ebby Manor Road leads from Coastal’s side of McMurray, past Kermit Russell Galloway’s residence then into the entrance of a trailer park in heading toward Ballenger Road.

Russell Galloway and Troy Sherman are leading the call for resumption of their property rights. A fury swirled after Sherman’s sister was denied a permit to replace her house with a modular home, Galloway said. She lives by Bloomfield’s Dishes & More, near I-26 West’s Upward entrance ramp. He said, “they told her she couldn’t put anything on it, because they rezoned it” industrial.

This was like a cattle prod to alert residents who missed newspaper and other notices that industrial zoning restricted their home options, sparking them by July of last year to organize to try to get residential zoning restored for their farm lots. After the planning board last fall told him to get a consensus, 12 of 14 affected homeowners signed on while only one declined to do so, Galloway said. On March 15, he initiated the request to rezone back to residential.

“If they don’t rezone it back, we’re going in to take them to court,” Galloway told The Tribune. “We’re going to go as far as we can go with it.”

He is upset. “It’s just like thievery. They sold everybody’s rights,” the beef farmer described his beef with the industrial zoning. The retiree raises a few beef and pigs and gardens. The Cedar Mountain native with a long ZZ Top-like beard worked in Sealy Corp. maintenance.

Many are digging in their Tar Heels. “I plan on staying here the rest of my life,” Galloway, 55, said. He is very concerned that industrial zoning boosts property values for much if not all of the rezoned area. In theory that helps those who sell, if they get near the asking price.

But those who prefer to stay are apt to pay more to remain, if their values also increase. Galloway said an assessor’s worker “said my value would go up. But it’d be a slighter reduction, as long as it’s kept as a residence. But the more businesses that come in, the higher the figure will be.” He noted a nearby 14.42-acre industrial tract is among those on the market.

Galloway said his assessment has been $190,000 including a barn, at $25,000 for the acre, off McMurray Road and $15,000 per acre after that. “I have three acres in front of my house. I wouldn’t sell you my land, without selling you my house. But no one will buy (such) a house on one acre for $300,000” when its priced at industrial-use levels and approaching “$100,000 (per acre) for the land.”

The two existing industrial sites by him are assessed at $85,000 and $72,000 per acre, according to the tax assessor’s office, he said. He fears the next tax assessment, slated in three years.

Seven of Galloway’s 10 acres were rezoned industrial. He built his home in 2000. The land has been in his wife Donna’s Edmundson family for at least three generations. Four years ago, they gave part of their land to their eldest daughter and she lives there in another, two-story house.

They were going to give their daughter Melissa Galloway land behind their house as a wedding gift this fall, for her to put in a modular house. But now that is disallowed, in an industrial zone.

“That puts a burden on her,” Russell said. “She’d have to buy a piece of land. Why, if we have a piece she can use for free?”

Flooding by McMurray Road looms as a pivotal issue, to the extent it increases along with industrialization. Mitchell said there is no acute flooding “ that we are aware of,” but deferred to county engineering.

Galloway said Coastal AgroBusiness’ retention pond produces a “river” of rainwater out its large culvert pot, during heavy rains. He said water runs through the middle of a nearby orchard into the creek, then the creek floods much of their yards.

“It washes driveways away, and washes culverts out,” he said after recent heavy rain. “I took my tractor to my neighbor’s drive, to fix his culvert. The water can’t get out now. It’s like a swamp.”

He reasons much of the land up for rezoning is “not fit for industry. The more you put in, the worst the flooding becomes. They gotta have businesses going. That’s all well and good. But this should be kept as farm land. Nobody farms it, because everybody is elderly. Nobody wants to sell their land. They want to use it as they want, and for their kids or grandkids to live on.”

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