FINALLY...changes are coming to Highway 75!
With the arrival of Union County sewer service in 2014, immediate improvements began to occur.
Property owners and businesses had been unable to expand their businesses or, in some cases, even keep existing ones open due to lack of sewer service. Septic syatems downtown, always an "iffy" solution at best due to very poor soil conditions, have become all but unable to be used due to stricter environmental health regulations and deterioration of existing drainfields. For example, your new fire department headquarters was required to operate on a "pump and haul" basis when it opened in 2009.
Since downtown property owners had been unable to develop their land or, in many cases, even rent existing space, they have had no incentive to maintain or improve their property, and downtown Mineral Springs became notoriously "run down".
The county sewer line opened in 2014 and allowed immediate improvement to buildings and properties located directly on Highway 75. New retail has opened, food service establishments arrived, inclding the incredinly delicious Gordon's Gas 'n Grill, and a new retail/food service center will open next to the barber shop as soon as the property owner completes the complex process of securing a sewer hookup from Union County.
Zoning guidelines that will create higher-quality buildings and grounds are already in place:
On October 9, 2003, council adopted a "downtown overlay" zoning district: a set of guidelines governing new development in the area of Mineral Springs immediately surrounding the intersection of Potter Road and Highway 75. These guidelines were intended to promote a "Main Street" style of downtown development, requiring the construction of streets on a grid layout with storefronts facing sidewalks, and with a combination of on-street parking in the front of shops and parking lots behind the buildings within blocks. In 2019, a new development ordinance repealed the downtown overlay, incorporating many of its provisions into a much simpler set of guidelines that made it easier for businesses to develop. The result will be a "real" downtown where people might choose to linger and meet and where pedestrian activity is encouraged, rather than just another cold, unfriendly "big-box" shopping center surrounded by acres of asphalt parking lot. With the adoption of a new Development Ordinance in 2019 and in keeping with your town council's desire to make zoning approvals more straightforward for small-business developers, the Downtown Overlay language was eliminated and replaced with simpler architectural and site-design standards. In keeping with our town's commitment to remain a more traditional rural community, these design standards still promise to set downtown Mineral Springs apart as a special place for our residents to work and shop.
Several workgroups from the UNCC Community Design Class devoted their time to developing and presenting alternative designs for the downtown district. Factors such as building design and street layout were considered. Even ideas such as residential uses above storefronts and small downtown parks and open spaces entered into the design proposals. Methods to successfully integrate larger retail facilities such as grocery stores into the storefront model were explored. For example, the CVS pharmacy chain recently completed a full-size version of one of their stores located completely within a storefront-style building in Davidson, a project that should inspire similar ideas in Mineral Springs.
...and longer-term plans for a truly unique mixed-use downtown business district are now closer to reality with new sewer service and an improving economy:
The property known as the "old school property", approximately 29 acres located just behind the Circle K/Subway and the other Highway 75-fronting homes and businesses, has long been seen as an excellent location for anchoring new downtown construction. This property was purchased in 2005 by a joint venture partnership of retail developer Raley-Miller Properties and the real estate division of Harris-Teeter. Harris teeter's plans have changed since its acquisition by Kroger and that property is now for sale. While the original Raley-Miller design is no longer on the table, the property is zoned "Town Center" and will still eventually be developed into a mixed-use combination of different housing types, small-scale retail, and services in a pedestrian-friendly configuration.
And already, while the larger plan is still years away, the owner of the old strip shopping center invested a lot of money in a complete facelift of the building and parking lot. This former eyesore now not only has sewer service, but it features a new brick facade, indirect lighting, and is now fully rented. Please patronize our local businesses, including the newest: the independently-owned Mineral Springs Pharmacy!
A key component of the proposed downtown district is the new Mineral Springs town hall. In 2009, the town completed renovation of the former library building on a 1.05-acre portion of the old Mineral Springs School site. This project was designed by Charlotte architecture firm Pease Associates, and built by Union-County-based general contractor Book Construction.
MOST IMPORTANT: your new town hall was completed with NO DEBT, instead utilizing funds that your town council had been setting aside for this specific purpose. Imagine that: a government entity actually saving money to build a needed facility without borrowing money and saddling taxpayers with massive debt-service payments. This is the type of truly "conservative" government you can expect from me and your town council.
I am proud of the vision and foresight of your planning board and town council, and am equally proud of my leadership on this important issue. When our downtown business district is developed according to our plan, it will be an asset to be enjoyed by many future generations of Mineral Springs residents.