Monday, January 22, 2018

Notes from the Davidson Commissioner Chat at the Egg

Melissa Atherton attended the "Commissioner Chat" at The Egg in Davidson on Monday Morning.  Here's a link to the video snd the notes she took.

Click for Video

● Robert Bullard will give his keynote lecture, “Climate Change as a Human Right: Why Equity Matters,” on Tuesday, 1/23, 7 pm, at Duke Performance Hall on Davidson College Campus. Bullard will also be at an informal drop-in chat on Wednesday, 1/24, 10:15 am, in the second floor lobby of Wall Academic Center at Davidson College.

● Davidson BOC’s Retreat will be held locally Thursday, 1/25, and Friday, 1/26, at River Run Country Club. The retreat is open to the public. Commissioner Jane Campbell said keeping the retreat in town will save $5,000 and create the opportunity for transparency. Commissioner Jim Fuller stated that the board is unanimous in their desire for positive, transparent communication.

● A lawsuit has been filed on Davidson’s Griffith Street Hotel decision. The board will discuss this issue in a closed session on Tuesday, 1/23.

● The vacant storefronts on Main Street have to maintain appearance guidelines. The owner’s corporation is reportedly looking to fill the vacancies with “high-end” restaurants.

● A citizen stressed urgency in protecting the nineteen acres of town-owned land on Beaty Street. The BOC is reportedly looking for a different level of public input. Commissioner David Sitton stated that this is a high priority for him. Commissioner Campbell stressed the need for public discourse and “out-of-the-box” ideas, whereas the Parks and Recreation process could potentially take 15-20 years.

● The Town of Davidson is spending $20,000 on the Mobility Plan. Citizen concerns included sidewalks and safety issues on Watson, Delburg, Beaty and Shearer Road. Mayor Knox recognized that much of the traffic in town is due to people passing through on their way to other towns. He also stated that Davidson does not have three major north-south road options like Mooresville and Cornelius (I-77, Statesville Road and Old Statesville Road) because we do not have Statesville Road. Knox acknowledged that he does not think the Potts-Sloan-Beaty connection will solve our traffic problems. The Mobility Plan will not include safety improvements for bicyclists on Shearer Road.

● Commissioner Sitton is actively advocating for the Comprehensive Plan to start earlier than summer of 2018. He stated that Davidson has a significant infrastructure problem.

● A citizen requested improvements to the public records request process.

● Town Manager Jamie Justice said there is no public input session scheduled for the Potts Development at this time. He stated that the developer, Crescent Communities, will have to present their plan to deal with the recommendations made in Kimley-Horn’s Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA). A citizen questioned why Crescent is being allowed to include NCDOT Project U-5873 in their TIA, but exclude the project/road from their open space calculations. Another citizen questioned why the developer would be allowed to make payments in lieu, rather than improving the intersections. Justice replied that the NCDOT plan has not been finalized yet and the developer only has to mitigate their portion of the total impact.

● A citizen praised the new board and requested continued “healing” after the election.

BREAKING NEWS - Lawsuit filed on Davidson's Griffith Street Hotel decision - group seeks to raise $$$

Well, this was probably not unexpected...

After multiple protests, dozens of speakers at Town Hall, a 10-0 Planning Board vote against the project, and a lame duck Board of Commissioners vote pushing the project through after being routed in the November election, a lawsuit was filed last week seeking to overturn the zoning decision allowing a Hyatt Place hotel to be built on Griffith Street at Davidson Gateway Drive.  The proposed project is adjacent to the Community School if Davidson K-7 building and the Westside neighborhood and across the street from Spinnaker Cove and Davidson Day School.

aShortChronicle has obtained a copy of the legal claim filing, and here are the basic details.
  • over 20 Plaintiffs from nearby properties are on the petition.
  • the Defendants include the Town of Davidson and the landowner/development companies.
  • 7 different claims are stated including claims of various procedural issues involving the zoning change as well as a claim of spot zoning.
Of the claims in the filing, the ones that may resonate with residents the most involve procedural issues around the public information process for the approval.  The facts that there was not a formal public information session for the significantly revamped second application for the hotel and that the Planning Board 10-0 negative recommendation was not available at the official public hearing as prescribed by the Davidson Planning Ordinance speak to the transparency issues that have roiled the town for the past few years.

aShortChronicle spoke with Luke Charde of Spinnaker Cove.  Charde is one of the plaintiffs, and he indicated that more people may be added as plaintiffs in coming days.  The initial claim was filed under a deadline and work continues on that front.

Lawsuits cost money, and to support that side of the equation, a major fund-rising effort is also underway. aShortChronicle spoke with Maria Chilton who has set up a Go-Fund-Me site to support the cause.  Chilton said that in addition to significant funds raised to research and file the claim, the Go-Fund-Me site has been set up with a $30,000 goal.  Anyone concerned about this project is encouraged to donate what they can.

The site is named "Stop the Misplaced Davidson Hotel".  It can also be reached directly at https://www.gofundme.com/stop-the-griffith-st-hotel.

Stop the Misplaced Davidson Hote

Questions and inquiries on how you can help can be sent to misplaceddavidsonhotel@gmail.com.

Again, seeing a suit filed to stop this unpopular project should not be unexpected - particularly after the way Davidson's former leaders pushed it through.  After a year that saw consistent pushback from citizens against Town Hall's actions, now it looks like that pushback is headed to court.

Check back regularly for more on this story as it unfolds.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ode to the Orphan Triangle

BY MELISSA ATHERTON



(Source: ToD Planning Dept website, Potts Development)

You sit on Lake Cornelius in silent peacefulness,
You green foster-child of high-density and concrete,
Quiet triangle, who can understand why you are forsaken,
A disappointing tale of money indiscreet.
(Apologies to John Keats)

The Orphan Triangle (OT) is the small lot on Lake Cornelius next to the Lake Norman YMCA. According to Polaris 3G, Belmont-based Davidson Acquisition Company LLC owns both the Potts Property and the OT. The Managing Partner of the LLC is Keith Hawthorne, an out-of-town car dealership owner. The Potts Property was purchased in November 2014 for $3,150,000. The OT purchase was reportedly coordinated with Duke Energy and sold for $100,000.00.

The OT is an indispensable partner to the development of 246 apartments and fourteen town houses on approximately fifteen acres in the Critical Watershed. It provides the high-density complex with both open space and the pervious land necessary to to meet the 50% maximum built-upon surface area requirement. Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO) requires lakefront property in master plans, such as the Potts Development, to be publicly-accessible. There is presently no way for the public, or the future apartment renters, to access the OT without trespassing on private land.

How will the developer deal with this problematic lack of connection? Here is where the Lake Norman YMCA enters the picture. Davidson Planning Department staff have stated that the developer reportedly intends to secure an easement from the YMCA to connect to the lakefront parcel. The new Executive Director of the Lake Norman YMCA, Matt Fitzwater, has not publicly commented on this potential deal. The developer provided a descriptive marketing packet at a meeting with adjacent landowners at a private home on Catawba Avenue in Davidson in July. Bizarrely, the marketing featured the Red Line and Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, neither of which presently exist. The developer’s marketing also brags that “The entire town will be encouraged to use our amenities--from a dog park, to lake access, to a network of trails that lets residents and visitors get to and weave through the community,” (Crescent Davidson by Crescent Communities], July 12, 2017).

Any semi-seasoned Lake Norman resident has a pretty solid understanding of local issues such as traffic, parking and lake access. Where will the “entire town” park when they use the apartment complex dog park and weave down to the lakefront access? It seems unlikely that they will be allowed to use the limited spaces at the apartment complex. It is improbable that homeowners on Potts Street and Catawba Avenue in Davidson will give up their driveways and front yards. Most certainly, people on Church Street in Cornelius will not tolerate the general public parking on their road. And who could blame them? Given that the developer’s plan shows the easement and greenway along the back edge of the YMCA soccer field, it seems plausible that the general public will park at the YMCA. Will the YMCA provide the easement and risk losing current loyal members who may have to compete with the general public for parking?

The Orphan Triangle is the missing piece in this Double-Town Puzzle. Keep watching the key players: Lake Norman YMCA, Davidson and Cornelius Boards of Commissioners, Kimley-Horn, and NCDOT.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Save Davidson collects donated items for MLK "Day On"


The Save Davidson community activist group conducted a donation drive over the MLK holiday weekend to collect cold weather items and books.  Starting with an ambitious goal of 100 coats, 100 blankets, 100 socks, and 100 books, items were collected in front of Town Hall.   Items piled up quickly over the weekend requiring multiple trips to collect it all.






Showing the generosity of the community, as of Tuesday morning here are the totals so far.  Due to the positive response, the drive has been extended through Friday.


aShortChronicle reached out to Save Davidson to get the background on the effort.  Here's what the group had to say.

After learning that the Town of Davidson historically does not observe MLK Day in an official way; Mayor Rusty Knox challenged himself and the board to plan something next year and further stated that “citizens should treat the day as a 'Day On' vs. 'Day Off.' This inspired Save Davidson leadership to support the new Mayor and Board by doing what they do best; springing into action to draw from their base and organize a town-wide coat, blanket, sock and book drive. The group's response was swift and overwhelmingly generous. Together, Save Davidson members along with Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville and Mooresville residents shattered the original goal of 100 of each item needed. Because the need is so great and donors so willing, Save Davidson has extended collections at Davidson Town Hall to Friday 1/19 at 8 p.m. 

Donated items are being collected and delivered all week long to the following organizations that support the homeless in our area:
  • Urban Ministries
  • Bella’s Books
  • Room at the Inn (DCPC)
  • Saint Maximilian Kolbe Fraternal Secular Franciscans @ Saint Mark
Donations are greatly appreciated and Save Davidson members are excited about opportunities to partner with the town on community initiatives that support Davidson residents.

As examples of how the items will be put to good use getting directly to those in need, many of the socks will be going to DCPC's Room in the Inn program to be distributed to guests.  aShortChronicle recently told readers about this program to provide additional shelter during the winter months.  See article here.  Many of the other items will be distributed directly to the homeless via the effort at St Marks.  According to Steve Miller who volunteers with that effort, the St. Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity Secular Franciscans @ St. Marks takes "donations of winter clothing and sleeping bags and takes them directly to the people on the street who need it the most. Some of these people -for whatever reason- cannot go to shelters, and we can be the difference between a comfortable night and a very cold one."

With many more cold nights ahead this winter, it's great to see people coming together like this to make a difference.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mobility and Comprehensive Plans need “synergy”

By Melissa Atherton

"You have got to connect your land use decisions with transportation decisions.” -Tim Kaine

The forthcoming Davidson Mobility Plan was center-stage at the Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night. Managing the project will be Travis Johnson, Town of Davidson Senior Planner, and Wade Walker, Vice President of Alta Planning. Both Johnson and Walker presented at the meeting. The plan will look at the following transportation issues: pedestrian, bicycle, mass transit, roads and parking. According to the Town of Davidson website, “The Mobility Plan will propose transportation enhancements, programs, development policies, and projects to enhance connections for all modes of transportation.”

The Mobility Plan has both Town of Davidson and outside-source funding. The Town’s portion is $25,000 and the additional $100,000 is from Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) and Unified Planning Works Program (UPWP).

According to Johnson, the plan gives citizen engagement high priority through community conversations, a stakeholders’ committee, digital outreach (Wiki-Map), open forums, and a four-day charrette. Citizens can anticipate the Mobility Plan website to arrive in late January or early February. Community conversations are proposed for mid-February and the charrette will be held in mid-to-late March. The charrette’s purpose is to include the community in identifying and solving transportation issues.

Walker explained the Mobility Plan origin as being a result of planning efforts that have and have not accomplished plans from 2002 onward. The goal is to identify what is still valid from the various plans, what has changed, and identify solutions moving forward. Walker stated that the plan is: actionable, feasible, multi-pronged, balanced, sustainable and forward-looking.

Commissioner David Sitton stressed the critical importance of finding synergies between the Mobility Plan and the Comprehensive Plan.

Transportation, connectivity and development are hot topics in Davidson discussions lately. Will the Potts-Sloan-Beaty Corridor (PSB) truly offer relief, or will it just help get us to the traffic at Jetton and 115 quicker? Is there scientific data available on the benefit of the PSB? How will it affect our historic West-Side neighborhoods? Are there additional East-West options for connectivity? What alternative routes can be explored to move traffic from Mooresville to Concord? How will the development-related population increase affect traffic (Davidson Bay, Hyatt Hotel, Davidson Depot, Davidson East, Davidson Hall, Davidson Springs, Davidson Wood, Green Level, Lake Cornelius Residential, Potts/Crescent, Summers Walk, Summit at River Run, The Villages of South Main, Washam Neighborhood and WestBranch)?

Residents finally have their opportunity to provide feedback. Plan to add your ideas to the Wiki-Map and attend the charrette when it is scheduled.

Friday, January 12, 2018

April is for Arts applications now available (Town Press Release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Town of Davidson announces that applications for April is for Arts are now available.  Forms for the Gallery Crawl, scheduled for April 20, and for the Art on the Green festival, scheduled for April 21-22, are all available at town hall or online at:

Artists are encouraged to apply to display and sell art during the Gallery Crawl and Art on the Green, and businesses are encouraged to apply to serve as venues for the Gallery Crawl.  The deadline for applying is February 26.

“April is for Arts is an opportunity to support Davidson artists that are our neighbors and friends,” said Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming. “This fine arts festival has grown in popularity to include regional and national artists and showcases a wide array of artwork to see and purchase.”

For more information on April is for Arts, please visit www.townofdavidson.org/April or contact Kim Fleming at kfleming@townofdavidson.org or 704-940-9622.

Who Plans a Party for “Community”?

By Barbara Bryan

The final item on an action and education-packed Davidson Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night read “Consider Community Dinners Program.”

Mayor Rusty Knox appeared a bit surprised that his idea—“to organize community dinners on a periodic basis to bring citizens together as a fellowship and community building initiative”—had been added by staff to the evening’s agenda.  Staff needs to check options including health codes and logistics, for a potential April Town-wide Potluck.

Wasting no time in describing his hope for healing in the presence of food and fellowship, Mayor Knox touched on divisiveness in political circles prior to Davidson’s 2017 elections, insisting that the community dinner was not an East-West or Concert on te Green type event but an “all 28036 thing” for everyone.

He named many potential outdoor sites such as soccer fields, Village Green, Fisher Farm, Summers Walk’s Green, Davidson College, Roosevelt Wilson Park and more before noting that uncertain weather may call for an indoor venue (or several).

At the suggestion of Commissioner Jane Campbell, the event may turn out to be a BYOF affair: Bring Your Own Food.  Not sure what health codes control that choice.  But, in the line of community building as the objective, and perhaps even before a Big Deal Meal, may I suggest:

Before this good idea gets too complicated (as have other “community” building plans initiated in Town Hall), let’s define  “community” and consider examples of genuine community-building dinners.

“Community” is a noun sometimes massaged into possessing active verb life-changing potential:  Pick a time and place—Town Day or Concert on the Green—and bonds of “community” inevitably will emerge.  But, that rarely happens.

It was spontaneous enthusiasm that sparked almost instant community as citizens from every angle of Davidson’s borders—and the existing Middle—became fast friends in the Save Davidson movement FOR its future.

Common and varied interests—known or discovered speedily—turn strangers into lifelong friends, supporting each others’ shared objectives.   Parallel play (shared time and space) never have nor will automatically create “community.”  “Community” is not a top down mix of people without some shared concern.

The Mayor’s concern is reviving Davidson’s heart for the wellbeing of the Town and each other.  So, what is the best M.O. for building community?  Food is always a draw (for himself, the Mayor admits); but, who, where, why, and how to make a 28036 dinner happen in a winning way?

Well, perhaps as a warm up, the following came to mind as possibilities. 

1 Dinners should consist of small groups in homes willing to learn more about and from others—newbies and Old Guard—who haven’t met.
2 What about a Progressive Dinner starting with appetizers at Gethsemane Baptist Church, moving to Davidson Presbyterian Church on Depot St for BBQ or Fish Fry, and concluding at Davidson College Presbyterian Church for dessert?  It’s even walkable!
3 What if people chose Topics or Subjects that interest them: from streetlights, transportation, recreation, etc., areas of Town life they would like to work on after breaking bread with like-minded others?
4 My favorite: Saturday morning Potluck Breakfast.  That’s something that may be easier because of timing, more free time to talk, and no one’s having a big investment in food cost.

There are many ways to inspire—in natural and easy settings—the kind of community that changes the way most are coming to feel about sharing time and talents in our terrific town.

Oh, and following each community dinner—no matter how small—there is a “Satisfaction Survey.”   It allows participants to describe pre, during, and post dinner feelings, as well as stating what involvement they want to offer because of the experience.    When surveys are “summarized”—with key concerns glossed over by those who may have arranged the event and worded the survey—they are, well, less reliable.  Just tell it like it was!

Can’t imagine a better new Mayor to arrange an after-dinner Group Hug!