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Union County approves sports complex and swim center

The Union County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to approve a more than 50-acre athletics complex and a $2.5 million swim training and competition center.

Commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, in favor of  establishing a master planned development district (MPD) for the sports facility.  The commissioners voted 4-1 to amend a portion of a planned unit development (PUD) zoning district so the swim center can be built. Commissioner Jerry Simpson voted against the pool complex.

The MPD was needed for the sports complex because the site has a variety of usages, which includes indoor and outdoor sports and a restaurant, said Lee Jenson, a senior county planner. The county doesn’t have a zoning designation that fits all those uses, so the MPD zoning was created for this type of situation when the county finished updating its unified development ordinance earlier this year, he said.

The PUD amendment was needed for the pool complex because the PUD only allowed for a different type of commercial development on the property, Jenson said. A 75,000-square-foot three-story office building that Longview South LLC applied to build was approved for the site in 2007, but that was never built because of the downturn in the economy, he said.

Union Athletic Club LLC plans to build the sports complex off Goldmine Road with access to the site from Phil Hargett Court, said Amy Anthony, the owner of the company.

The sports complex will include four lighted baseball fields; two lighted outdoor multi-use fields that can be used for football, soccer and other sports; a lighted football field and a 180,000-square-foot indoor field house with a 300-meter track, locker rooms, meeting rooms, and possibly a restaurant that could fit 100 or more people and four basketball courts, Anthony said.

“Our goal is to really create a nice facility,” she said Tuesday.

The company wants to break ground in early 2016 and have part of the facility opened by the fall of 2016, she said. Union Athletic Club is looking for a restaurant to fill the space.

The pool facility will be built by the Mecklenburg Swim Association, which is owned by Peter Perers. The site is near Tom Short and Rea roads.

It will replace the pool that the association uses at the Blakeney Racquet and Swim Club on Rea Road. The pool there has a temporary structure around it.

“We are going to build something a lot nicer,” Perers said Tuesday.

Finding land close to the current location wasn’t easy, he said, and the center had to be redesigned because residents who live nearby wanted a wall between the swim center’s parking lot and their neighborhood.

Perers’ swim center will feature a square pool, with each side measuring 75 feet, for competition and training. It will also have a pool that measures 40 feet by 15 feet for swimming lessons.  He said he wants to start construction in early 2016 and complete it by the fall of 2016.

Simpson said his vote was more of a “protest vote” because it needed an amendment and he believes the swim center shouldn’t be allowed on the site.

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