Less than two hours before the Statesville City Council was expected to render a decision on a controversial annexation request Monday evening, the landowners suddenly withdrew their request.
The Tsumas Family and Wheeler Investments had asked the city to annex 440 acres on Elmwood Road, but area residents objected, fearing part of the property would be zoned to include a rock quarry. Area residents had formed a community group, called Elmwood Strong, and expected upwards of 300 people at the City Council’s Dec. 7 hearing.
“We consider this last minute development to be not so much a victory as just a delay,” said organizer Tammy Wilcox of Statesville, as she told residents heading for City Hall to go home. “We’ll be watching and waiting for the next chapter.”
Property co-owner Harry Tsumas said the last minute withdrawal will give the owners time to review and refine their explanation for use of the land.
“We just felt we should pull back and develop a more comprehensive way to make our case to the city and its residents,” he said. “Some of our supporters also suggested we take a step back.”
Tsumas said he expects to resubmit an annexation request, and “when we do, a public hearing will be held so that all parties will have ample opportunity to state their case.”
The property under question is east of the city limits but still comes under Statesville’s control for zoning. An employment center was proposed on the western half fronting on old U.S. 70. Low density residential development would be north of that and a rural conservation district on the eastern side.
“The owners have indicated a party is interested in reopening a quarry on that easternmost tract near Elmwood Road,” said the city’s planning commissioner David Currier.
Its unclear if a quarry would be included in any new annexation request, but in either case the land would have to first be annexed by the city, and then rezoned. Residents in and around Elmwood say they had devastating effects from the local rock quarry when it was operational roughly 35 years ago.
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.