Growth strategy for Belmont discussed for more than a year


The talk has gone on for more than a year.

Now, Belmont’s new comprehensive land-use plan is coming down to the wire.

On Tuesday, the City Council is expected to vote on what has been described by leaders as a road map for future land use in the fast-growing city.

“The real challenge is that the plan doesn’t end up on a shelf gathering dust,” said councilman Irl Dixon. “We want to make sure it’ll be used and looked at and enforced.”

Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Flowers still hadn’t made up his mind on how he’ll vote.

“I have some reservations about some of it,” he said. “I’m afraid it could be used to discriminate against the poor and middle class. I’ll be studying and praying over this all weekend.”

The plan was drafted by HNTB, a national consulting firm with an office in Charlotte.

City Manager Barry Webb said the land-use plan cost $118,000 and a separate transportation plan $25,000. The city got $22,950 in state money for the transportation part, he said.

To get input from residents, Belmont and HNTB held three public forums before a public hearing in July at the Gaston College East Campus and Textile Technology Center.

Residents have praised the plan’s vision, but asked how it will address issues beyond Belmont’s control, such as crowded Gaston County schools and congested state roads.

A few also have asked whether the plan is focused on creating a bedroom community for newcomers instead of preserving small-town character for longtime residents.

The plan designates several areas for certain types of land use.

For example, Main Street and adjacent streets should be mostly retail and community buildings, while Wilkinson Boulevard should be a commercial center, according to the plan.

Dixon said the land will be a guide as Belmont continues to grow.

“Nobody will ever be completely satisfied with it,” he said. “But without the plan there would be chaos.”

The Belmont City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 115 N. Main St. For information, call 704-825-5586.

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