Lake Norman & Mooresville

Iredell County to build new public safety center

Iredell County is planning to build a new $10 million center on the west side of Statesville to house its public-safety-related departments. The structure will be within a vacant 16-acre parcel on Bristol Drive, and will consolidate a number of departments that are currently scattered among four buildings in the city.

The departments expected to be in the new center include the County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Emergency Management, Emergency Communications, Specialty Services Division and the fire marshal’s office. The EMS portion will include room for administrative employees as well as a base station for medical-response units. All told, more than 60 county workers spread out around the city will be brought together in one facility.

The county expects to purchase the parcel at a tax value of $324,000 in November, according to County Manager Ron Smith.

“Because these departments are currently spread out, there is some natural overlapping of operations,” Smith said. “When completed, this new center will eliminate this and enable us to both physically and administratively consolidate our services.”

The path to accomplishing the consolidation first appeared to be rather complicated. The vacant property on Bristol Drive is currently a conditionally-zoned property, according to Statesville’s Assistant Director of Planning Sherry Ashley. “Typically a change in the site plan would go back through the rezoning process. However our attorney brought to our attention that the old conditions might not require the county to go back through the rezoning process.”

While the city was waiting for a legal opinion, which involved researching the old ordinances and previous zoning districts, the county decided to proceed with the rezoning process, should that have been necessary. However, after the county gained approval from both neighbors and the city planning board, a final legal opinion stated a rezoning was not required and the county withdrew the rezoning request. However, Ashley said “the site plan will still require review and approval by the Technical Review Committee, Planning Board and city council before the county can begin construction.”

The $10 million cost for the project will be primarily covered by county capital construction funds, along with $1.7 million in accumulated fees collected for 911 fees and $125,000 annually in funds from the county’s specialty services division.

Smith said that the county expects to begin construction on the complex in September of next year and should take approximately 18 months to complete.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Email