The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is scheduled to discuss two rezoning requests during a meeting Thursday.
One is linked to plans for the re-use of facilities formerly occupied by the Spencer’s Inc. textile operations in the downtown area, while the other involves a proposed flea market off U.S. 52 just south of town.
The commissioners are slated to discuss both requests during Thursday’s meeting, which begins at 2 p.m., and possibly will vote to set public hearings on each.
Spencer’s Mill Request
Jim Crossingham, longtime owner of Spencer’s Inc. of Mount Airy, is seeking to have sites at 238 Willow St. and 259 Market St. rezoned from their present classification of M-1 (Industrial) to conditional-use B-1 (Central Business).
This change would facilitate a project under way by Crossingham to convert the former textile-manufacturing facilities there to the Spencer’s Mill Complex. It includes plans for up to 17 condominiums along with retail shops and offices.
The conditional-use aspect of the rezoning request would provide flexibility to change from residential to professional or retail, according to city government documents.
In their heyday, the Spencer’s Inc. operations occupied a number of buildings in the Willow Street area, the oldest of which dates to around 1895. The company that specialized in infant apparel ceased production in 2006 amid increasing foreign competition.
Crossingham said the plans for the sites on Willow and Market streets represent the first phase of an overall objective to re-use the old facilities, at a price tag of about $3 million. The condos envisioned as part of the project are patterned after Renfro Lofts nearby, developed by local businessman Gene Rees at a site formerly used by the Renfro Inc. sock manufacturer.
The Mount Airy Planning Board voted in favor of the rezoning request in late March, which paved the way for the change to be considered by the commissioners. City planners said Crossingham’s project conforms to an objective of “high-density” development that is encouraged along Willow Street.
Crossingham said in February that state and federal historic tax credits were being sought for the renovations, which are aimed at providing financial incentives for improving older structures while also preserving their architectural integrity.
“The clusters of industrial buildings in the area should be targeted for preservation and reuse when existing operations cease to use the facilities,” according to a report from the city planning office.
Public hearings are required before any rezoning can occur, and one regarding the Spencer’s Mill Complex is tentatively set for May 17.
Flea Market Request
The commissioners also will decide Thursday afternoon whether a public hearing will be held on April 19 regarding a separate rezoning request for property located at 2167 S. Andy Griffith Parkway.
Owner Grayson G. Vaughn is requesting that the zoning for the site be altered from its present B-4 (Highway Business) designation to conditional-use M-1 (Industrial).
The property that borders Emmanuel Church Trail is actually outside the city, but within Mount Airy’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) zone. That is a one-mile section outside the city limits where property is subject to municipal zoning regulations.
Vaughn explained Monday that he wants to develop an outdoor “family flea market” that would contain about 100 display tables along with parking and other facilities.
He said his family has used the property for commercial purposes since the mid-1980s, most recently leasing it to the New Generations mobile home sales business. However, it closed a year before the lease was up, and the owner added that money from that lease was being depended upon to pay the mortgage for the property.
“I’ve got to find a way to make a little bit of money off the land,” Vaughn said. “I’m limited in what I can do.”
He said the industrial zoning is sought because it allows flea markets, a use not permitted in B-4 zones.
The Planning Board also recommended approval of Vaughn’s request in late March.
Also Thursday, the commissioners are scheduled to:
• Discuss and possibly act on a proposal to seek $250,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to aid the development of the Edgewood Place apartment complex in the vicinity of Walmart. A Jamestown firm, Wynnefield Properties, would build the complex, but the CDBG funds could be used for related infrastructure needs such as streets, sewer lines and sidewalks.
Speakers at a March 15 public hearing concerning that use overwhelmingly supported the plan, citing a need for more affordable rental housing in the city. Favorable action by the commissioners Thursday would lead to the city staff submitting the application for the funding.
• Discuss and possibly reappoint J.D. Bartley to the Mount Airy ABC Board. Bartley is a longtime member of the board that oversees operations of the city’s lone liquor store and presently serves as its chairman.
• Give special recognition to North Carolina Granite Corp., one of the oldest businesses in the area.
• Hear a quarterly report on tourism from Jessica Icenhour Roberts, director of tourism and marketing for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, who also is involved with the city Tourism Development Authority.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.