April 14, 2023 at 7:53 p.m.

Riverbend Project Gets Green Light from Gaston

Riverbend Project Gets Green Light from Gaston
Riverbend Project Gets Green Light from Gaston

Wayne Howard- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

It has been talked about for over a decade; and after the Gaston County Board of Commissioners approved a rezoning request at their March 28th meeting, the Riverbend Project on the Lincoln-Gaston County line now appears likely to come to fruition over the next five to seven years.

While a major part of the development will be an industrial complex, mostly in Lincoln County, it will also mean a huge residential area in Gaston County; and despite a strong sales job before Commissioners by Gaston County Economic Development Commission executive director Donny Hicks, the project comes with almost unanimous disapproval by current residents of that area.

Lincoln County Commissioners had already approved the rezoning for their portion of the industrial portion. At the late March meeting, Gaston commissioners were asked to approve changing the zoning for four other sections from R-1 (residential single family) to CD/C-1 and RS-8, allowing the developer to build 725 homes.

All of those except County employees and those associated with the developer spoke against the proposal during the public hearing. They had also turned up in big numbers at two community meetings on February 22nd and March 3rd to voice their objections.

As with many of the projects of recent years in eastern Lincoln County, traffic was one of those concerns. There will be a separate entrance/exit to the industrial site from NC16-business, but all three entrances to the housing areas will be on Killian Road.

Population density was also an objection. According to information provided at the hearing, housing area B will include 400 units, 2.07 per acre; area C will have 175 units on its 65 acres, or 2.69 per acre; and area D will have 150 units on 33 acres or 4.52 per acre. When the whole area of the development is considered, applicants said the result would be 2.49 units per acre.

Some of those 725 homes will be townhouses, but traditional multi-family dwellings, a part of the original plan, were dropped. That original plan called for a total of 1100 homes.

Several enticements were used to help sell the rezoning request: the developer will give a thousand dollars per home to Gaston County Schools; an acre of land will be provided for a police or EMS station; and Lincoln County will share the property tax income from its portion of the industrial site 50-50 with Gaston County for three years.

Water and sewer service for the project--both the industry and the homes including both Lincoln & Gaston locations--will be provided by Lincoln County.

Commissioner Bob Hovis asked and was told the answer was 'yes' that if the request were not approved, the developer still intended to build homes on the site, although not as many.

The approval came despite the rezoning not being approved by the Gaston County Planning Board, which also didn't suggest approval of the Gaston portion of the industrial area.

Commissioner Chad Brown from Stanley, who represents Riverbend Township on the Commission, made the motion to approve the rezoning. The only 'no' vote came from Gastonia Township representative Tom Keigher.

Keigher said he feared the new housing development would be a lot like one off Union Road in South Gastonia--"one look-alike-box next to another."

The developer said the price of homes in the development will likely be in the $400 thousand to $450 thousand range and that it will take about five to seven years for all to be built.



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