Proposed Rezoning Plan to Help Business in Graham

Graham city leaders are working to improve the quality of life for residents with a proposed zoning ordinance that promises to bring better business to the city.

City officials say the Planned Development Number 4 Rezoning Plan for Highway 380 will improve the visual quality of the south side and encourage certain types of business development.

Sue Cott, a Graham resident approves the plan. "I think it would be wonderful, there's not enough business. There needs to be competition for a lot of things here. The area is perfect, got the double lane highway. It would be great for homes, businesses, anything."

Another Graham resident, Harrell Ford also agrees, "I thought it would be the greatest place for a development in town."

Under the proposed plan for Highway 380, business looking to relocate to Graham would have to present a specific application to the city for approval.

"Every proposed property use has to be presented through the planning and zoning commission, then on to the city council for a special permit," says Larry Fields, the Graham City Manager.

New businesses would have to adhere to landscaping requirements, outside aesthetics, and would even have to submit a site plan for officials to determine if the building would be suitable for Graham.

"It just gets down to opinion by the individuals on the board of whether this building is going to look nice out there, it's going to look like that other buildings out there or you know, is this going to stick out like a sore thumb," explains Fields.

The plan, if passed will limit "blue collar" service shops from coming into the area, such as mechanics and welders, which can potentially hurt Graham's business development.

"I think it will limit you on the marketability of the property," says Fields, "I don't think there will be as many businesses looking to locate."

Yet some feel the highly visible stretch of property should be rezoned, for the sake of the community.

"That's one of the main roads that comes through Graham, coming through the East/West area over here and I think they really should clean that up," one resident says.

"We do want to be able to present a good picture of Graham, being a nice town and a good place to come visit," echoes Fields.

Ford says with a smile, "I think it could be the greatest thing to happen to Graham."

The city manager says businesses that are not allowed to build in the new zone have many other options inside city limits.

Residents who are concerned about the plans to rezone Highway 380 are encouraged to speak their minds at the next city council meeting on December 23rd.

In order for the rezoning ordinance to passed, city officials must read the ordinance at city council 3 times.

All business currently along the stretch will not have to change for the potential code.

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6