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Ch. 10: Vibrant Community Atmosphere

Salisbury will be a unique and vibrant destination, protecting and leveraging its built heritage and commitment to the arts to develop a rich sense of place. Salisbury will be welcoming to all cultures and provide opportunities for everyone actively working to attract new residents.

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Forward 2040 Chapter 10: Vibrant Community Atmosphere

A vibrant public space is one that is accessible to everyone, is enjoyable and has a good image, has a variety of activities for people to engage in, and is a place where people can meet each other and bring someone to visit. These principles not only apply to downtown, but all areas of Salisbury. This chapter will focus on community appearance, historic preservation, and affirming Salisbury’s unique identity through events and activities.   

Goal 10.1. Maintain attractive public spaces

The public realm includes all publicly accessible and publicly owned spaces. These include streets, plazas, sidewalks, trails, open spaces and parks, and civic buildings. Sustaining an attractive public realm brings people to those places, encouraging interaction between people. In this way, beautiful places establish a community’s identity and sense of place. 

Policy 10.1.1. 

Create new and maintain existing plazas, parks, and streetscapes.

Policy 10.1.2. 

Foster community identity with public art. Locate public art at community facilities, in parks, and along greenways. 

Policy 10.1.3.  

Encourage the activation of non-historic building elevations with murals and other art pieces. 

Policy 10.1.4.  

Investigate ways to enliven buildings and sites with art and murals that do not damage or obscure historic features. 

Policy 10.1.5. 

Coordinate the placement of new art pieces when designing streets. 

Policy 10.1.6. 

Create interactive public spaces. 

Policy 10.1.7.

Continue support for façade grant programs.

Policy 10.1.8. 

Include an arts component proportionate with the magnitude of impact in all City projects.

Policy 10.1.9.

Develop and implement an active, City-wide campaign against littering. 

Policy 10.1.10.  

Support the utilization of the three elements of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design on private property and in public spaces. 
Community Action 1:
Add CPTED certified police employees to the development plan review process for all public projects, including those initiated by the City, Rowan County and Rowan Salisbury Schools.
Community Action 2:
Develop a program that offers a CPTED consultation from certified police employees for private property owners of commercial establishments.

Policy 10.1.11.  

Promote neighborhood gardens on vacant lots and in the right-of-way.
Community Action 3: 
Use a portion of storm water fees to create a grant program for neighborhood rain gardens or to reduce fees for those who maintain rain gardens.
Rain gardens
are low, landscaped areas that collect water runoff. Rain gardens can be a beautiful and cost effective way to reduce storm water runoff. Planting these areas with native plants  also allows it to provide food and shelter for butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. 

Goal 10.2. Support unique events and spaces that give Salisbury a sense of place

Salisbury is fortunate to have a thriving arts and culture scene that includes a symphony, four higher learning institutions – Livingstone College, Catawba College, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, and Hood Theological Seminary - several theaters, and a large local artist and musician population. Building partnerships with these groups and institutions is fundamental in maintaining Salisbury’s unique identity. Salisbury is also an events destination. Providing continual support to these events and creating opportunities for new ones will create a vibrant City that attracts new residents and visitors while enhancing the fabric of opportunity for residents.

Policy 10.2.1.  

Partner with and facilitate coordination among art galleries, theaters, colleges, and other organizations in hosting festivals and events to cultivate Salisbury’s cultural identity. 

Policy 10.2.2.  

Support art and cultural events that enhance Salisbury’s identity and encourage interaction between residents.

Policy 10.2.3.  

Create opportunities for engagement within the local artist community, similar to the Salisbury Sculpture Show and Paint the Pavement.

Policy 10.2.4.  

Encourage the development of special use recreational spaces, such as a skate park, equestrian park, and pump track.
Cultural Action Plan
The Cultural Action Plan, adopted in 2008, discusses the growth of arts and cultural activities in Salisbury. The plan outlines a planning process for cultural actions and lays out goals and recommendations to achieve a more vibrant cultural community. The plan called out several strengths, including Salisbury’s high level of arts and cultural activity, a commitment to historic preservation, and a local sense of volunteerism. The plan also identifies weaknesses, including lack of resources for professional development for artists and department leadership charged with cultural development. Key goals of the plan include cultural stewardship, arts and cultural commerce, neighborhood art development, and arts education. 

Goal 10.3. Preserve the architectural integrity and character of historic districts and buildings while encouraging the adaptive reuse of historic structures

Whether sustaining Salisbury’s vibrant downtown, building a space where the community can gather, supporting new businesses and residences, or bringing an important symbol back to life, historic preservation is an activity that can strengthen a community. Preservation further acts as a catalyst for development of other historic buildings, as well as new construction.   About one in ten properties in Salisbury are located within a historic district. Local Historic Districts preserve the historic fabric of neighborhoods and downtown by requiring review by the Historic Preservation Commission for exterior modifications, new construction, and demolitions. There are five of these districts with approximately 1,000 properties. The oldest district, the West Square, was designated in 1975.

Local Historic Landmark are properties that have been deemed by City Council to contribute to Salisbury’s unique history. Local Historic Landmarks receive a 50% deduction on property taxes to support their ongoing preservation. In 2021, the City’s landmark ordinance was updated for the designation of cultural landmarks, properties that demonstrate a significant contribution to Salisbury’s culture.

National Register Historic Districts allow property owners to apply for historic rehabilitation tax credits. Contributing properties within these district are eligible for state and federal tax credits, which encourage the rehabilitation of these structures. The City does not regulate exterior modifications to properties within these districts, but many of these properties are also located within Local Historic Districts and do require review by the Historic Preservation Commission.

Policy 10.3.1.  

Market Salisbury as a heritage tourism destination. 

Policy 10.3.2. 

Protect noteworthy buildings, places of historic merit, and significant works of art, and encourage Local Historic Landmark designations within and outside of historic districts. 

Policy 10.3.3. 

Promote the rehabilitation of older buildings that respects the character of the building and its setting. 

Policy 10.3.4.  

Pursue public-private partnerships to fund historic preservation projects.

Policy 10.3.5. 

Create preservation education and outreach programs with local organizations. 

Policy 10.3.6. 

Promote historic preservation in areas outside of Local Historic Districts. 

Policy 10.3.7.

Create district specific design standards to meet the needs and address the challenges of individual districts.

Goal 10.4. Affirm neighborhood identity

Salisbury residents take pride in their neighborhoods, as evidenced by the success of the yearly BlockWork program. BlockWork is an annual, one-day event that brings volunteers into a block of the City for minor repairs to the exterior of homes and landscaping. Usually, there is also an arts component to the neighborhood.
“Placemaking is strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.  It’s a collaborative process to shape public spaces in order to maximize a shared value.”
Project for Public Spaces

Policy 10.4.1. 

Strengthen the relationship between people and their neighborhoods through placemaking. 

Policy 10.4.2. 

Create neighborhood landmarks with public art pieces and artistic signage.

Policy 10.4.3. 

Encourage the stewardship of neighborhoods by businesses, residents, and visitors.

Policy 10.4.4.  

Protect the character of older neighborhoods while allowing contextual infill development.

Policy 10.4.5. 

Promote and enhance the Neighborhood’s Leaders Alliance to keep residents engaged with the City and to encourage neighborhood groups. 

Policy 10.4.6.  

Broaden the interpretation of a neighborhood to include a variety of areas, including downtown and apartment complexes.

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