The Hickory City Council rezoned a portion of the Trivium Corporate Center property over the objections of three Startown area residents who spoke at the meeting on Tuesday.
The council voted unanimously to rezone a 167-acre section on the southern part of the Trivium Corporate Center property, the business park located between Startown and Robinwood roads.
The city recently annexed the property and changed the zoning to reflect the change from county zoning to city zoning.
The property south of the park was rezoned to the city’s Industrial-Conditional District classification to allow for further development of the business park.
A 5-acre piece of land across from Trivium was also rezoned to Neighborhood Center Commercial, which allows for certain types of business or residential development, according to a rezoning analysis included in the council agenda packet.
Three people who live near the corporate park — Debra Strother, Eddie Ide and Margy Butterfield — raised concerns about the rezoning.
The three residents voiced concerns ranging from the effect on property values and quality of life to concern of contamination coming from radioactive materials used by radiopharmaceutical manufacturer ITM, which has located in the business park.
Strother said residents in the Startown area do not feel represented when it comes to development of the park.
“Startown is not heard,” Strother said. “You do not represent us.”
She called on the council to provide protections to the residents by leaving part of the property zoned residential and to ensure proper visual barriers are in place.
Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development corporation and a member of the Trivium corporate board, spoke in response to some of the resident comments.
He said the plans for the business park have stayed consistent over the years and that those plans provide protections for both residents and the companies locating in the park.
Millar said the county has asked for information from ITM concerning the possibility of radioactive contamination.
“I assure you and the community that it is not in the industry’s best interest to allow any of these contaminants to be released,” Millar said.
Bond saleAssistant City Manager Rodney Miller addressed the council about the city’s second issue of general obligation bonds.
On Oct. 29, the city issued $15 million in bonds. The bonds, which voters approved in 2014, cover such projects as the City Walk and Riverwalk.
The investment firm Robert W. Baird & Co. purchased the $15 million, offering an interest rate of 2.177 percent for 20 years.
The city will make interest payments on this set of bonds semi-annually starting on March 1 of next year.
A principal payment of $750,000 will be paid on Sept. 1 of each year between 2020 and 2038.
Miller said the city benefited from an upgrade in its credit rating. The credit rating agency Moodys upgraded Hickory from Aa2 to Aa1, one spot away from the agency’s top rating.
Standard & Poor’s, another credit rating agency, kept the city’s rate at AA+, which is one spot away from that agency’s top rating.
A few members of the Hickory City Council and city staff traveled to meet with the credit ratings agency in October.
The lower interest rate the city was able to secure as a result of the improved credit rating will save Hickory nearly $400,000 in interest payments.
The city sold the first $15 million in bonds in 2018 and will sell the remaining bonds in 2021.