Saturday, February 14, 2015

Iredell County Board of Commissioners approves zoning change at Lake Norman Airpark (14A), Mooresville, North Carolina

Despite vocal opposition from nearby residents, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a rezoning request for the Lake Norman Airpark in Mooresville.

The IOMAX Corp. had asked the county to rezone 6.21 acres covering three hangars it owns at the airpark off Perth Road to heavy-manufacturing conditional district.

Under the new zoning, IOMAX, which equips new crop-duster planes at the airpark with intelligence and surveillance equipment for the U.S. government and its allies, would have the right to use the property for other specified purposes should its aviation business become unprofitable.

Those uses include race shops, equipment rental and utility-company offices.

Neighbors opposing the rezoning did not object to the current use by IOMAX but were concerned about future uses that could draw the public into the airpark.

In response to those concerns, IOMAX agreed to remove dance studios, restaurants, recreational facilities and martial-arts training facilities as possible future uses.

“It’s not a perfect plan for everyone,” said IOMAX’s Lee Moritz, “but we’ve made additional concessions to our neighbors, and we believe it’s a step in the right direction.”

The neighbors don’t agree: “Other permitted uses, such as a race shop, only benefit IOMAX to the detriment of the homeowners, both our quality of life and the value of our property,” said Russell Jones, who lives on Normandy Road adjacent to the airpark.

Rezoning opponents also were frustrated with their inability to provide more input on the final rezoning agreement. In January, county officials asked the company and residents to meet to try to work out differences.

“We were told our input would be used but it wasn’t,” said May Frost, who submitted a petition against the rezoning to the commissioners at their Feb. 4 meeting.

Jones agreed, saying, “They simply filed an amended zoning request and never talked, much less negotiated, with any of us.”

IOMAX officials said efforts to schedule a meeting with residents were complicated by previous travel commitments among their officers.

In the end, the commissioners seemed satisfied the rezoning would protect the county and provide one consistent zoning district for the three hangars on the property rather than the mix that exists.

“With the understanding that the company will submit a safety plan approved by the office of emergency management should aviation use cease, I believe enough of the residents’ concerns have been addressed to approve this legislation,” said Commissioner Thomas Bowles, whose motion was approved unanimously.

The rezoning previously had been approved 8-0 by the county Planning Board.

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