Thursday, May 23, 2019

Davidson Police Department Execute Search Warrant for Narcotics Investigation (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – On Thursday, May 23, 2019, officers and investigators with the Davidson Police Department executed a search warrant at 314-B Delburg Street, Davidson related to a narcotics investigation.  Three of the adults present at the residence received citations for drug offenses and were released from the scene along with one minor child.  One subject, a 31-year-old African-American, male, and resident at the address, was arrested on scene.

Investigators are seeking the following felony charges on the arrested suspect:
•  Trafficking in LSD
•  Felony possession LSD
•  Trafficking in Cocaine
•  Felony possession of cocaine
•  Felony possession of methamphetamine
•  Possession With Intent to Sell or Deliver – mushrooms (Psilocybin)
• Felony possession- mushrooms (Psilocybin)
• Maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of storing controlled substances

Over $3000 in US currency was seized from the property. This is still an active, ongoing drug investigation and the arrested suspect’s name will be released when pending charges are finalized with the Mecklenburg County Magistrate.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

New Exit 30 hotel proposal before Board of Adjustment on Monday

As speculated previously, the public hearing signs on the corner of Peninsula/Gateway Drives are for a new hotel project. Per the Town Planning department, the documentation was put up last week.  However, it was put up under the Board of Adjustment page rather than the Development Projects page because the project is seeking a variance for parking.

The documentation can be found here after scrolling to the bottom of the page.  

The highlights of the project are as follows:
  • A six story, 135 room hotel by Wyndham
  • A pair of 2 story 5500 sqft offices buildings similar to the live-work buildings in the area along Gateway Dr.
The developer is seeking a parking variance to reduce parking to 119 parking spots, versus the 217 Davidson's ordinance would require.  This is similar to the variance granted the controversial Griffith Street Hotel.  However, there are some factors to this Wyndham proposal that should make this aspect less of an issue.
  • The street parking included in the Wyndham proposal is slightly less than the Griffith proposal with significantly more being on-site.  The street parking used is also more available because there aren't existing uses in that area that already consume street parking like there is with CSD next to the Griffith site.  Also, the street parking for the Wyndham proposal is accessible.  The Griffith site includes several new spots along Griffith Street itself that will be all but useless for hotel guests.
  • Any "shared" parking at the Wyndham site made available to the hotel per Davidson's ordinance will come from the two new office buildings being built as part of the same overall project.  This makes a lot more sense in the Wyndham location.  Plus, any tenants of these office buildings would know going into a lease or purchase that a hotel would be next door. That's far different than the situation with the Griffith Street Hotel where Woodies had this sprung on them by the Town changing the plan and approving a hotel as conditional on that site with the hotel suddenly including half of Woodies parking in its own plan.
  • The location of the parking is also better relative to the neighboring properties.  The Wyndham proposal doesn't put a hotel and it's parking lot right in several residents' back yards like the Griffith Street proposal.  For that matter the front of the Griffith project also looks into back yards in Spinnaker Cove.
Will everyone be happy with this proposal?  Maybe not, but overall it seems to be a better plan in a better location - a plan much more worthy of approval than what the Town has approved previously on Griffith Street.

The Board of Adjustment hearing is this coming Monday, May 20th, after the regular Planning Board meeting which starts at 6pm in the Board Room at Davidson Town Hall.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Exit 30 hotel property in play?

While driving through the Circles@30 area on Saturday, aShortChronicle noticed the below "Public Hearing" sign, actually there are two of them, at the corner of Davidson Gateway/Peninsula Drive.

The signs caught the attention of yours truly like they always do - mostly because they mean some new development project is in the works.  These signs however, are particularly interesting because of the specific location.

According to County property records, the 3+ acre parcel is still owned by Spectrum Hospitality, a hotel development company with hotels in Wilkesboro, Mooresville, and North Myrtle Beach.  During the long-running controversial Griffith Street Hotel saga, there has been speculation if another hotel vendor entered the market, particularly Spectrum since they owned this particular property, it would possibly change the calculus for pursuing the Griffith Street project.  Many in town believe a site closer to the interstate is better than one sandwiched next to a K-7 school and residential neighbors.

aShortChronicle has inquired with the Town regarding these signs since nothing is on the Town website detailing a new project.  However, if this project is another hotel, that hypothesis may be put to the test.  Check back next week for updates.

Davidson budget proposal only slightly above revenue neutral

Davidson's Board will be presented the staff proposed budget on Tuesday, and according to the agenda item documents it will include a property tax rate slightly above "revenue neutral".

aShortChronicle has previously told readers about the potential for this and what revenue neutral really means to taxpayers.  See here for that previous coverage.  The proposed rate will be 29 cents per $100 in property valuation as opposed to the now official neutral rate of 28.1 cents.  "Neutral" in this case means all things being equal, the Town would bring in the same property tax dollars next year under the new property tax valuations as it did this year under the old valuations.

However, all things aren't equal in this case, so what does this new rate really mean?

Each cent on the tax rate under the new valuations is worth about $261,000 in tax revenue.  At 0.9c above revenue neutral, the Town will bring in $235k more than it would under the neutral rate.  However, that's not the whole story.  Because the neutral rate includes a growth factor and because the town is growing by adding new homes, even under the neutral rate the Town would bring in $319k more in property tax dollars than it did in FY2019.  So, going with the rate above revenue neutral brings in even more revenue than a neutral rate that would have already brought in more revenue.

On top of that, other revenue streams to the Town are growing such as sales taxes, utility franchise taxes, interest revenue and use of the fund balance.  All in all, the Town would have been looking at nearly $500,000 in higher total revenues without resorting to property tax increases above the revenue neutral rate.  That would have allowed for a roughly 4% increase in spending versus the roughly 6% increase in the proposed budget.  Either one would be considered a more than healthy boost to spending, and other than listing new items that weren't included which would have driven spending even higher, there's not a whole lot in the budget docs that shows major efforts at cost cutting.

Now, in fairness this all comes out to not all that much money when looked at on a per household basis, and the Town definitely points that out.  On Page 9 of the presentation document, it shows the  tax impact for a $400,000 house equals $36/year over what the revenue neutral tax would have been.

Would most people prefer to have that $36 for a trip to the Soda Shop, or a couple trips to Whit's or Ben & Jerry's on Main street?  Sure.  However, with this Board still saddled with dealing with a Mi-Connection subsidy of $1 million per year that eats up nearly 8% of the overall budget while also staring at the a big potential pile of money from the revaluation, having a slight increase is not stomach churning or surprising.  The Town is also seeking to offload Mi-Connection, so hopefully there is a real light at the end of that tunnel.  The job market is also as tight as It has ever been, so compensation should adjust.

Here at aShortChronicle the take on this year's budget is it certainly could have been much worse, and likely would have been much worse under the previous Board with the spending plans that group of elected officials had on their agenda.

From that point of view, this year's spending plan can be considered a win by comparison - even with a slight tax increase.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Get your "community" on with two Westside food events this weekend

There will be two great events on Saturday, April 27th where you can get lunch and dinner while helping to build community here in Davidson.  If you haven't been to events like these, then you really aren't taking advantage of one of the things you can really only do in a small town.  They are the kinds of things that give you the real feel of a place.

For lunch head to Reeves Temple AME Zion Church at 213 Watson Street for a lunchtime/afternoon fish fry to support fundraising efforts to be used in restoring the historic Lingle Hut.  Details below.  You can read more about this effort here.  This effort has already raised an impressive $25,000 but still needs $8,000 more to break ground.  Help save a little Davidson history while getting lunch.

For dinner, head to Roosevelt Wilson Park at 6pm for the 2nd annual town community dinner.  This is a nice community event started under the current Board to bring the community together.  From the Town press release.

The Town of Davidson is pleased to announce our “Davidson Community Dinner – Breaking Bread, Building Friendships” event on Saturday, April 27 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Roosevelt Wilson Park, 420 Griffith Street. All members of our community are encouraged to attend.

The Town of Davidson will provide the following:
  • Main Dish
  • Water
  • Tea
  • Paper goods
And attendees are encouraged to bring a side dish or dessert to share (including a serving utensil). This dinner is picnic style, please bring your chairs and blankets. We encourage you to meet and greet old and new friends.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Potts Development...development... Public Hearing and Planning Board Review move forward

A few weeks ago, the Potts Development lawsuit had its first day in court. It's now apparent the initial results of that action will result in the project process moving forward - sort of....

An eagle eyed resident passed on information to aShortChronicle Tuesday morning that the project signage had changed on Potts Street.  See below.

The Town project page was also updated.  See here for that.

After following up with the Town, Town Clerk Betsy Shores provided the following statement that was to be read at tonight's Town Board meeting.

Crescent Acquisitions, LLC, the developer of the proposed Potts Development project, filed a lawsuit against the Town regarding the permit for the project.  As the Town argued to the Court, it does not believe that the circumstances warrant the continuation of the permitting process.  However, the Court has ordered planning staff to complete the review and issue a decision on the permit. 

Therefore, as required by the Court, there will be a public input session set for May 2, 2019 from 5-7pm at town hall.  This is an opportunity for citizens to express their opinions directly to the developer regarding this project.  This project will also be on the planning board’s agenda for the April 29 meeting for review and comment.

The Town will update the citizens, to the extent possible, as the permitting process and the lawsuit move forward.

So, what does this actually mean?

According to the preliminary understanding here, this only means the project approval process will move forward a little.  It does not mean the project is approved.  In fact it does not appear to address the most important piece of this case which is the Town's ability to manage its water/sewer extension approvals.  As of this writing aShortChronicle has not been able to obtain the actual court documents to say definitively on all points

It does however absolutely mean this....

Citizens need to get ready to head to Town Hall in force on April 29th and May 2nd.

This is the classic David v Goliath scenario.  A large corporation, one of the largest in the local development business, is attempting to force through a project nobody wants in a location where it does not fit.  That's a common situation these days here in Davidson. the Beaty Street Property and Griffith Street Hotel projects show, the citizens of Davidson know how to fight these fights.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Will Town of Davidson let Cornelius design southern entrance to our town?

Tuesday's Town of Davidson Board agenda is pretty light, but the one significant item on it could have long-term impacts to what one sees when entering Davidson on NC 115 from Cornelius.

As long-time readers are likely aware, the I77 toll project came along with some money municipalities are using for various smaller projects.  In Davidson, that "bonus allocation" is paying for the new roundabouts at the I77 overpass as well as part of the Potts/Sloan/Beaty connector project.  Here is an earlier story on that.  Bonus money is also paying for the intersection work being planned for the NC115/Potts intersection on the Cornelius side of the municipal boundary heading into Davidson.

As part of U-5873 Cornelius and NCDOT have been planning a roundabout for this intersection.  It's a big roundabout at that, larger than the ones at Circles@30 in Davidson.  As part of the planned project the roadway will be realigned as well to allow for a 10' multi-use path (aka "Big Fat Sidewalk") under the railroad trestle.  This realignment is where things get ugly.

Neighbors impacted by this approach have been quietly pushing the Town of Davidson to forcefully ask that any plan seek to minimize the impact to properties on the Davidson side of the municipal boundary.  That's what the resolution on the agenda as the sole major item of business for Tuesday's Board meeting is all about.  However, while this resolution does ask for some items that could marginally mitigate the impact, it doesn't ask for a plan that eliminates the biggest problem.  That would be the road realignment.  Per John Burgess, one of the homeowners most impacted by the proposed plan, that's the only thing that can truly make a difference.

Per an email from Burgess:

"This resolution is very disappointing and is actually my worst fear.  The plan and resolution show them narrowing the impact to the properties by 5', lessening the encroachment from 50' to 45'.  All the trees and significant features are gone. Item 1 of the resolution asks for the design to be modified to minimize impact, but the minimum impact is to have no realignment of the road. The resolution and accompanying map do nothing to modify the road alignment, and in fact, the drawing conceals the road realignment."

To Burgess's points, take a look at the below pictures.  The first two are from a February presentation to Davidson.  Doesn't look too bad, does it?  Though it is kind of hard to tell in just conceptualized drawings.

Now, take a look at these pictures supplied by Mr Burgess to see just some of the actual impact.

Quite a difference picturing all those trees gone, isn't it?  If this project goes through with the road realignment in place it will forever change the picturesque nature of this entrance to Davidson.  If you were appalled by the tree carnage at Exit 30 to accommodate the roundabouts there, this could arguably be worse.  Ironically, both are being paid for with I77 toll lane project money.

Now take a look at the picture of the project after the proposed changes in the resolution as it stands as of this writing.

The proposed changes keep the road realignment.  They just move the impact a few feet.  The resolution does ask for the stone wall to be rebuilt and for the Town sign to be moved, but that's little comfort for what will still likely be lost.

And why is this being done?  Why is private property being infringed?  Why are more trees being cut down? Why is this entrance to town being changed this way?

In a March email to elected officials and others Cornelius Planning Director, Wayne Herron, wrote the following to justify the plan that requires a road realignment:

"First, was the improved safety and access for patrons to the YMCA, which include residents of both Cornelius and Davidson. The roundabout will accommodate the additional traffic from the Potts-Beatty-Sloan Connector and was shown to be the safest and most efficient option for now and into the future."

Really?  Access to the YMCA?!?!  Access to the Y could be greatly improved by simply opening up Church Street as a second entrance into the other side of the Y property.  It's a simple solution that's been available for years. Why didn't Cornelius propose that as part of a plan that could have possibly had a smaller roundabout?  While simple, that solution is also a hot potato political topic in Corelius that nobody wants to deal with.  That's why.

In the March email, Herron goes on to say (emphasis added)...

"Second, the Town of Davidson has a downtown to be proud of. It is an attraction for Cornelius residents to enjoy with excellent dining, activities and all around beauty. Our citizens have expressed the desire to be able to walk and bicycle to downtown Davidson along NC115 and allowing for bike/ped traffic in both directions between both Towns. So, our citizen stakeholder committee has recommended 10’ multi-use paths along NC 115 up to the Cornelius Town limits. Our citizens prefer the 10’ multi use path for safety in order to allow both pedestrians and bicycles to safely coexist and move about from point to point. NCDOT did explain early in the project planning, that it would necessitate a realignment of NC 115 on the Cornelius side in order to achieve this additional cross section under the train trestle to accommodate the 10’ multi-use path. Our citizens are excited about the opportunity to connect our Towns and overjoyed about the potential to get to downtown Davidson by way of NC 115, safely under the trestle."

All those things are true about Davidson and very neighborly to say, but does anyone really believe large numbers of Cornelius residents will actually be biking down 115 on this 10' sidewalk for dinner at Kindred?  Will they suddenly be walking in throngs to get a custard at Whit's?  Maybe they'll be towing little red wagons to the Davidson Farmers Market on Saturdays?

No, of course those things won't happen.  Statements like that don't pass the smell test.  They don't meet the test of common sense.

So, while it may be neighborly for Cornelius to think highly of Davidson's downtown, it is not all that neighborly to push a plan that irreparably harms the look and feel of the entrance to that very same downtown.

As the highlighted portions above clearly show, Cornelius is looking out for the interests of its residents.  It's time for Davidson's Board to do the same and pass a resolution on Tuesday that does more than just nibble around the edges of the problem.  Davidson Commissioners need to pass a resolution on Tuesday that clearly asks NCDOT find a solution that doesn't involve realigning the road and messing with the look and feel of this entrance to our town.