Burlington’s city council plans to hold a pair of public hearings next week on proposals from two businesses that want to expand or consolidate their existing operations in the community.
The city council formally scheduled these two state-mandated public hearings during its latest regular meeting on Tuesday, November 21 to receive feedback on requests that it has received from LabCorp and Matthews International. Its members agreed to convene both of these hearings at their next regularly-scheduled meeting on December 5, which will take place at Burlington’s Paramount Theater rather than the council’s usual meeting chambers.
Land swap with LabCorp
The first of these two proposals concerns a request from the Laboratory Corporation of America to “swap” a pair of parking lots that the company owns at 220 East Davis Street and 271 East Front Street for a patchwork of parking that the city has next to LabCorp’s corporate headquarters at 531 South Spring Street.
Each set of property involved in this exchange has been valued at $125,000 by Patterson Appraisals, which the city commissioned to assess the worth of this real estate. Patterson went on to deduct $6,000 from the value of LabCorp’s property in light of the company’s intentions to hold onto 10 of its parking spaces in order to increase the marketability of the nearby “CB Ellis Building” – one of several small storefronts that line the block of Front Street across from Occasions.
According to city officials, LabCorp intends to use the property it would pick up in this swap to enhance the landscaping around its corporate headquarters. Meanwhile, the city would be free to use the two lots it would obtain for public parking.
The second request which the council has slated for a public hearing comes from Matthews International, a specialist in “industrial technologies” that has a manufacturing plant not far from the grounds of the Burlington-Alamance Airport. Matthews reportedly plans to expand this 34,000-square-foot facility at 2056 Willow Springs Lane, and the company has asked the city to help pay for this project by applying for a building reuse grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce.
According to Burlington’s economic developer Peter Bishop, the state commerce department has “preapproved” Matthews for a grant worth $100,000 – a sum that includes a required 5 percent match from the city.
“They will be investing about $10 million dollars and investing 26 jobs at the facility,” Bishop went on to note when he presented the company’s request during a city council work session on November 20. “The average wage for these jobs is a little over $60,000 – or higher than the average wage in the city of Burlington.”
Bishop also alluded to an additional “local incentive” that the company will be requesting at the upcoming hearing. He has since told The Alamance News that this added enticement is expected to total another $100,000 – or 1 percent of the project’s overall value.
During its meeting on November 21, the city council also signed off on a couple of rezoning requests that had come with unanimous recommendations from the city’s planning and zoning commission.
One of these two newly-approved requests allows for a “limited” form of general business use on roughly 3.5 acres of now-vacant property that a Durham-based limited liability corporation owns at 3216 and 3234 South Church Street.
This new zoning, which replaces a combination of general business and office and institutional designations, explicitly permits about 30 of the activities which are normally allowed in a commercial district. These uses include restaurants, nail salons, professional offices, and certain forms of housing – all of which were already allowed under the property’s old zoning designations. Also included in the list of allowable activities are a handful of so-called “expanded uses” – such as a convenience store, a veterinary clinic, and an animal grooming service – which weren’t previously permitted in the area formerly zoned for office institutional use.
The other rezoning request that obtained the council’s blessing allows for a “limited” form of high density residential development on a .45-acre parcel at 309 Stokes Street. The new zoning, which replaces a general business designation, explicitly permits duplexes and detached single-family dwellings – with no other potential uses allowed.
Prepping for pickleball
The council ultimately approved both of these rezoning requests by margins of 5-to-0. It also gave the same unanimous nod to a budget amendment that will enable the city to hire the Bar Construction Company to develop 23 pickleball courts on the grounds of two municipal parks.
This budget amendment draws a total of $4,696,400 from the city’s savings to develop 17 new pickleball courts at Burlington’s City Park and convert two tennis courts at Fairchild Park into six additional pickleball courts. The council also agreed to set aside some additional funds to resurface some parking spaces at Fairchild Park and to install railings and shading for spectators at the existing tennis complex at City Park.
City officials expect the new pickleball courts to be finished and ready for use by July of next year.