Monday, April 29, 2013

In Davidson's Future...Segways and Bike Shares?

In the ongoing drive to make Davidson something more/different than the college we all know and love, Town Staff presented a proposed budget last week which included one item which stood out for its tourist town kitsch - $26,000 for 3 "digital information kiosks".

It's a bit hard to see exactly why people would need impersonal information kiosks to ask directions in Davidson.  Isn't that one of the benefits of being in a small town - the neighborliness?

At the risk of these suggestions actually being taken seriously, what's next - Segway's and Bike Shares?

Segway Tour in Charlotte

Uptown Bikeshare

Seem about as good a use of taxpayer dollars for a town of 11,000. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

About that MUMPO, Charlotte City Council, Airport, General Assembly Brouhaha

Was going to let this one slide, but after reading this and this over at the Charlotte Business Journal it seems like there might be a bit more to the story posted here last week - Charlotte Throwing Weight Around at MUMPO.

This post referenced a story from the previous Monday at Mary Newsom's The Naked City blog regarding a unanimous decision by Charlotte City Council to seek a symbolic re-vote on a resolution by MUMPO supporting the Monroe Bypass toll road. That effort was scheduled to occur at last Wednesday's MUMPO meeting - a meeting that was also going to feature a presentation by opposing the I77 HOT lanes toll project.

This past Sunday, the Charlotte Observer posted this story - Emotions high over airport authority push - which outlines a flurry of activity in Raleigh by legislators to prevent this symbolic re-vote from happening.

At this past Saturday's NC-9 GOP Convention it was communicated that the MUMPO post from aShortChronicle had made it's way around Raleigh last Wednesday - the same day as that flurry of activity described in the Observer article about the Naked City post.

Now, we here at aShortChronicle are not in the business of taking credit for things.  We could care less whether or not our post was the real spark for some or all of the activity described by the Charlotte Observer by bringing added attention to the Naked City post. But we do like to ask questions...

Knowing that the Charlotte City Council unanimously approved bringing up the Monroe Bypass resolution again, and knowing that the posts from aShortChronicle and The Naked City were also circulating in Raleigh on the same day as all this activity to stop that resolution from being brought up - a resolution which would clearly have zero actual impact on the Monroe Bypass toll road, it seems curious why Raleigh would expend such a flurry of effort to stop such a possible re-vote.

The stated reason in the Observer is that Speaker Tillis asked that Charlotte "not to do anything that would further complicate a situation already complicated.”  Assuming that was in reference to not adding more turmoil to the Airport issue, Charlotte's acquiescence was very short-lived.  By this Monday, Charlotte City Council was relentlessly grilling the Airport Advisory Board Chairman, Shawn Dorsch - someone who had been helping the General Assembly's effort to remove the airport from Charlotte's control.  By Tuesday, Mr Dorsch had been removed from the Advisory Board. And today, Wednesday, we have Republican Warren Cooksey of Charlotte City Council lobbing verbal hand grenades at fellow Republican, Senator Bob Roucho.

If the true intent of stopping that re-vote at MUMPO was to not further stir the pot on the Airport, it seems nobody in Charlotte was really listening.

You'd also have to believe that, as the Observer reports, Charlotte Councilman Michael Barnes had already decided on his own to not bring up an issue that had been voted on unanimously by Charlotte City Council for him to bring up.

A more reasonable explanation is that Raleigh realized how bad the optics were of Charlotte "opposing" one toll project at MUMPO (the Monroe Bypass) while they were planning to shut down debate on another toll project (I77 HOT lanes).  That's the scenario outlined in the post from aShortChronicle.

Not creating that scene is something the I77 toll road supporters in both Raleigh and Charlotte could agree on. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Town of Davidson Board Meeting from the Twitterverse

The following is the Twitter stream from tonight's Board Work Session.  Be on the lookout for the public notice for the hearing on Davidson's next Town Budget for 5/14.

It says a lot that the most contentious topic out of a $9 million dollar budget was the need for more crosswalk flags costing only $100 a piece.  Not sure exactly what it says, but it says a lot - a lot more than 140 characters can do justice.

6:08 PM
April Work Session underway at Town Hall

Mayor Woods updates on efforts at MTC to find $$$ for trains Comm Jenest updates on LNTC & HOT lanes, vote next mo

Comm Fuller comments that lots of activity w/ Lifeline - town's suicide prevention effort.

Concerts on the Green record number of events this year...

Parks & Rec...Family Fun Day, Murder Mystery Dinner, $1500 donation from CHS for Vial of Life prog, launch at DCOA (Davidson Committee on Aging)

Design for Life...HB150/SB139 working way through ...Due to CDC funding restrictions staff can't "lobby"

-- Commentary: HB150/SB139 are bills which limit municipal planning authority. They are bipartisan bills that expect to pass overwhelmingly. The Town of Davidson strongly opposes these changes.

bike/pedestrian HIA underway.

to host Southeast Regional HIA Summit 7/31-8/2. Hopes for attendees across SE US to address "black hole" of HIA

producing a "documentary" on Town efforts with HIA...Next up for DDFL...where Town goes post CDC grant? $$$

--Commentary: The Town of Davidson has resources to produce a documentary on HIAs but does not record public meetings to increase citizen involvement and awareness.

Design for Life if Town Funded would need $100,000+ per year at current funding level under CDC grant.

Design for Life could also seek other grants as well, but talk definitely leaning toward going fwd regardless

Public Works...$250k Pump House renovation done; McEver Field lights low bid $80k+ over budget - moving forward.

resurfacing Pine Rd, Eastway St and lot behind Dav Famiy Medicine

recycling % down from 18%-14% per current data - baffling due to Town efforts including $22k recycle bins in village.

--Commentary: The prevailing feeling is that the data must be wrong. It's not possible that people are not recycling more now that everyone has giant red bins in their homes and the town spent a fortune on recycling in the village. (See here for related story.)

moves to new bus,financing new dump truck rather than straight purchase impact of reval cutback caused financing

could experience $143k hit from portion of reval fiasco, 2.5% of value. Floated that 36c rate wld bring same $$$

budget... has $748k over expenses...$380k for CIP...oth infra $139k...$229k oth unfunded requests

: w/ $748k available above expenses no Comm mentions lower taxes...dicussion seems to be how to spend last $2k

Mayor Woods asks about how much crosswalk flags cost...answer, about $100 per crosswalk..."feels strongly" a/b it

pedestrian plan items are important to Comms, lots of talk a/b crosswalk flags

Comm Venzon & Mayor Woods get into it over the crosswalk flags. Apparently, there have been complaints over looks???

--Commentary: Really??? People have been complaining about the looks of the flags? Davidson is a bit quirky (good quirky). These flags fit right in with the award winning artistic signs around town, and they didn't cost $50,000.

three digital kiosks $10k South Main, Circles at 30, & Main St

: Public Works progressing towards "getting to the next level" of service with this budget.

: non-profit committee requested $55k, only $50k budgeted. will send back to committee for them to cut if needed

budget public hearing at 5/14 mtg. Bring your questions. No mention by Board of Mi-Connection impact this year.

--Commentary: The largest single budget item (even after last year's fix) didn't get a single mention in the final budget discussion before the public hearing.

: Board still at it. Signing off..

Monday, April 22, 2013

Man, those are some yellow fields!

Who knew that common canola oil comes from such a spectacular field of yellow?  That is what's growing in the fields on June Washam Rd, rapeseed plants - the source of seeds for canola oil.

Over the past week the plants that have been growing all winter brought forth the fields of yellow which have become an impromptu roadside attraction of sorts.

Cars can regularly be seen stopping for pictures and admiring the view.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NC-9 Republicans Meet in Cornelius...Unity a Common Theme

Republicans in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District met in Cornelius on Saturday for a convention to elect a new slate of leaders for the congressional level of organization within the party.  The event brought numerous politicians to Cornelius Town Hall including Congressman Robert Pittenger, NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis as well as Representative Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Senator Jeff Tarte of Cornelius among others.  About 100 of the party faithful were in attendance.

There was some speculation that there would be fireworks surrounding the ongoing intra-party tensions around the I-77 HOT lanes supported by most Republican elected officials.  When it came time for nominations for officers, Convention Chairman, Billy Miller, paused extra long to see if there were any additional nominations beyond the existing slate - even making a joke that he thought there might be.  However, in the end the elections for offices was not contested and John Steward of Union County and Davidson's Linda Angele maintained their positions as Chairman and Vice-Chair respectively.   It was a good show of unity within the party.

That unity was a culmination of a theme hit on by most of the speakers throughout the morning.

Speaker Tillis first hit on the topic, highlighting "The Eleventh Commandment" made popular by Ronald Reagan..."thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican".  He also paraphrased another quote commonly attributed to Reagan.."the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally."

Claude Pope, campaigning for NCGOP Chairman, said "for party unity we have to teach the losers how to support the winners, rather than taking their ball and going home."

Finally, John Steward, in his brief acceptance speech as NC 9 Chairman said that Republicans can't win without the Tea Party, the Tea Party can't win without the establishment Republicans, and that the Libertarians can't win on their own.  A statement that highlights the need for all the facets of the conservative cause to work together for a common purpose to be successful.

To a degree, they are obviously all correct.

However, for that unity to occur all sides must feel that they are being dealt with fairly, and far too often things occur during campaigns and during contentious issues to undermine that sense of fairness.  Whether it be perceived meddling in primaries, or how contentious issues are handled, to put all of Saturday's words into real action will require much more than saying "can't we all just get along?"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rumor Mill Starts Churning on Pending Davidson Town Board Opening

It took longer than expected, but the first rumor landed this week that at least one person is interested in being appointed to the open seat on the Town Board when Commissioner Laurie Venzon eventually steps down. 

When her eminent departure was announced, reported that Laurie Venzon willremain on the Davidson Town Board 'at least until summer.'"   Considering that an official date has not been announced, vulturing over the seat seems a bit premature.

So let's keep this simple.

Appointing someone to a vacant seat who intends to run again just as filing for the 2011 election is about to start would be an absolutely terrible idea - both for the Town and for the appointee wanting to run this election cycle.

It would be divisive for the Town as it would look like the remaining Board members wanted to hand-pick a successor and give that person the advantage of incumbency.  It would be bad for the appointee/candidate because voters would see right through this.  Making and accepting an appointment under these circumstances would be flatly undemocratic as it would be attempting to manipulate the small-d democracy of the coming election, and the person accepting such an appointment would deserve the "anybody but" label come election day this November.

If you have not won elected office previously, then you do not deserve the seat.  Period.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Charlotte Throwing Its Weight Around at MUMPO

Mary Newsom reports over at The Naked City Blog on Charlotte City Council's meltdown over the General Assembly's move to remove Charlotte Douglas International Airport from City control.  In a classic case of  "we'll take our ball and go home if we don't get our way" the City Council voted unanimously to seek a re-vote on a resolution supporting quick construction of the Monroe Bypass - a toll road project proposed for Union County - at this Wednesday's (4/17) MUMPO meeting.

MUMPO is the regional planning organization which decides on road projects in the region.  It currently encompasses Mecklenburg and much of Union Counties and will soon add much of Iredell County as well.  Charlotte seeking the re-vote is simple and base retribution against Union County for voting to support the NCGA legislation that would strip the airport from Charlotte's control.  The decision to seek the re-vote has nothing to do with transportation and everything to do with power.  Charlotte has 16 votes on MUMPO due to its size with all other entities getting a combined total of only 22 votes.  It's easy for them to get their way, and they appear willing to bully their neighbors to get what they want.

In an ironic contrast, while Charlotte seeks to use it's influence to possibly slow/punish one toll road, they are using their power to force through and minimize opposition to another toll road - the HOT lanes on I77.  Charlotte has all but told North Mecklenburg and Iredell county if you want I77 widened it will only get done with HOT lanes.  Charlotte is using it's MUMPO votes to force that outcome.  It's telling that Charlotte is not taking the same hard line against the I77 HOT lanes because Iredell County also voted to support the NCGA taking Charlotte Douglas from the City.

What's the difference between I77 and the Monroe Bypass toll roads?  The Monroe Bypass does not help Charlotte directly.  The I77 toll project does. Even better the I77 project will be paid for by non-Charlotte residents, but the biggest benefits will be to Uptown Charlotte.

The naked hypocrisy of this position is stunning.  It's made even more so when you read in Mary Newsom's post about Charlotte City Council members tossing around veiled threats regarding City funding for other regional planning groups such as Centralina Council of Governments and the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

Apparently, regionalism to Charlotte means the City getting what it wants and everybody else better keep their collective mouths shut.

Wednesday night's MUMPO meeting will be interesting.  In addition to the Monroe Bypass item, is scheduled to give a presentation on the HOT lanes project.  In emails received by aShortChronicle, the group has been asking to receive a 30 minute time-slot but is currently only being granted 10 minutes.  At least one MUMPO member has replied in support of their request for a longer presentation.  In support of giving more time, Lynda Paxton, representing the Town of Stallings, said...

"We are responsible for making extremely important decisions for how our limited transportation dollars are spent. We should not rubber stamp recommendations from staff without complete understanding of all facts and viewpoints."

The question is will Charlotte use its influence to squash debate or will they have the decency to allow for 20 extra minutes of discussion before trying to ram through a $550 million project for the City's benefit?

Update: The presentation at MUMPO this evening was reportedly limited to only 10 minutes per a Facebook comment on this story from activist Sharon Hudson.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Consultants, consultants, everywhere... Is North Carolina transportation decision making beholden to big consulting?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Big Government, like Big Business, often uses consultants in large decision making and project delivery efforts.  Consultants bring expertise as well as additional manpower to the table.  They certainly can be useful.  However, there are two big differences between when the private sector brings in consultants and when government enlists their services.

The private sector is risking its own money on projects, and those hiring the consultants usually have a high degree of expertise in the subject area themselves.  Conversely, when government uses consultants public tax dollars are at risk, and the decision-makers, meaning the politicians, often have very limited experience in the subject matter being decisioned.

In the end, the consultants advising the public sector have very little at risk, but they can have a huge influence on how decisions get made due to their "expertise".  When things go wrong, it's the citizens who are left holding the bag.  To know this is true, one has to look no further than the disastrous Mi-Connection decision by Mooresville and Davidson  to enter the local cable business - a decision strongly driven by the advise of consultants.

We all know how that turned out.

The promises of easy money and overflowing town coffers quickly turned into annual subsidies and higher taxes and fees.  In fact, the advise seemed so bad that questions were eventually asked about whether or not the consultants could be held accountable. See Did consultants cause Mi-Connection fairy tale?

However, the $90 million Mi-Connection purchase is dwarfed by other proposed local projects being heavily influenced by consultants.  Those are the massive projects being proposed for the Charlotte region's transportation infrastructure including rail transit lines and the much covered topic of HOT lanes.  Combined, these projects total nearly $1 billion in proposed public spending.

In the realm of transportation projects, consultants from the large to the small can be found all across the spectrum of the decision making process - from assessments, to financial planning, to even the political process.  One company, Parsons Brinckerhoff, comes up repeatedly on local projects, but they are hardly alone.  And there is no reason to believe that if it wasn't this company that some other would not take its place.  Remember, the politicians who make the decisions often do not have the required expertise to do so. They will seek out advice and there are countless consulting operations ready and willing to provide their services.

What follows is a brief outline of how one company, Parsons Brinckerhoff and its "alumni" have been involved in Charlotte's transportation decision making.  This information is all available online.  It's not secret.  Yet, for some reason our local politicians keep going back to the same people even though the record is less than stellar.

Parsons Brinckerhoff's involvement in CharMeck transportation planning goes back to at least 1998.  That year, the company was involved in creating the 2025 Integrated Transit/Land Use Plan for CharlotteMecklenburg. (See page 12)  This is the plan which would utilize the revenues from the 1/2- cent transit tax implemented by referendum in that same year.  In what would soon become painful irony, this plan actually won an award in 1999 at the Las Vegas convention of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. (See page 26)

Within a few years though, things began to unravel for the finances behind the plan.  This article originally published in the Charlotte Observer outlines how the costs of the plan began to explode.  See "Price tag of transit is soaring".  One of the significant reasons for the increases was due to not including inflation in the original plan - the plan put together by Parsons Brinckerhoff.  One of the other reasons for the increased costs was the decision to significantly expanded bus service.  That decision according to this article was driven by then CATS chieftain, Ron Tober.

Eventually, the South Corridor opened in late 2007.   However, that was not before surviving a referendum to repeal the transit tax, an effort launched due to the project's massive cost overruns.  The tax surviving the referendum was due in no small part to the efforts of Parsons Brinckerhoff.  The company was a significant donor to the Save the Transit Tax effort, contributing $30,000 to the cause. (See Follow the Money. Transit. -  Also, one of the company's alumni, a Mr Alan Wulkan, helped coordinate efforts to rally support for the tax through contacting DSS.  Mr Wulkan was working at the time through his own consulting firm, InfraConsult  (See Who is Alan Wulkan?

Ultimately, the transit tax was "saved" in November 2007.  Plans for future spending stayed on track.  However, the pro-transit side was not without its casualties.  Ron Tober, the CATS boss at the time, announced his  "retirement" before the referendum.  Was he a scapegoat? Maybe. But, as you'll see he lands on his feet.

Fast forward a few years.  The economic downturn hits.  Transit plans go into hibernation.

However, eventually things get back to "normal."

Normal starts with the Red Line Commuter rail project.

The travails of this project have been covered extensively in these pages under "The Red Line Chronicle".  One area that has not been covered yet involves the consultants which have been driving the project forward over the past couple of years.  Not surprisingly, once again Parsons Brinckerhoff connections frequently come into play.  It's no secret that Mark Briggs, the project's primary expert on public private partnerships (P3), currently works for PB.  What may be less well known is that all of the project's consultants have done stints at PB.  Katherine Henderson of KKH Consulting as well as former consultant and eventual NCDOT Deputy Secretary for Transit, Paul Morris, also worked at PB.  Incidentally, all three also worked for the Raleigh-based real-estate investment group, Cherokee Investment Partners.

If you are interested in watching for more on the long-standing ties between PB and the Red Line, here is a video of PB's Mark Briggs and Mayor John Woods from the Town of Davidson sitting down for an interview on the project with The Davidson Think Tank, at Davidson College.  It's worth watching.

It's safe to say, the Red Line Regional Rail project would not exist in its current form without the strong influence of consultants - all with links the same company.  The beauty of this for them is that as long as this project stays on life support, consultants will have more work to do.  If the project eventually stops altogether, they will have already collected their fees.

This brings us to the HOT lanes on I77, the second massive project underway in the region.  This has already been covered here and in most of the local professional media.  There's no need to go into its details other than to say the experts on tolling at PB have been hard at work once again.  It is fare to say they truly are the experts.  This article outlines their experience in the field and includes a reference to the I77 project.  A quick google search shows the company has been involved for quite some time on the project.  Here's a reference from 2010, and there are multiple references to Parsons Brinckerhoff speakers featured at local meetings on the project.  Many of these meetings have been conducted to push back on the efforts of the citizen activist group that has been gaining traction recently in its opposition to HOT lanes.  Parsons Brinckerhoff consultant, David Ungemah, has been a frequent speaker at these meetings.

So, why is all of this important?  Why bring this up now?  As always, the answer is money.

Currently, the Charlotte Mecklenburg transportation plan is broke.  It's busted.  It's  "at least $3 billion short" according to one consultant (not Parsons Brinckerhoff by the way) and that's just the mass transit plan.  That's not even including roads.  That's $3 billion short off the plan PB developed 15 years ago back in 1998.

To remedy this problem guess who has been brought in to help come up with a new plan? 

Ron Tober, now with Parsons Brinckerhoff, that's who - along with David Ungemah.

As mentioned earlier, Ron Tober, the former CATS executive who oversaw the build of the South Corridor and its huge cost overruns, landed on his feet.  In this article he laments that his departure from CATS in 2007 was driven by “vicious and mean-spirited” attacks.  Now, he returns as a member of the consulting firm which has benefited greatly from helping save the transit tax.  Even more telling may be something on Mr Tober's Linked In profile.  His first foray into the private sector after leaving CATS appears to have been with InfraConsult.  The same consultants that helped "save" the transit tax in 2007 by contacting Mecklenburg DSS to figure out how to convince the elderly to vote for the tax.

Was Mr Tober a scapegoat in 2007?  Maybe.  But it seems more like a case of like minded people taking care of their own.

Now, Mr Tober is back as part of a funding work group charged with coming up with a plan to raise more money for Charlotte transit plans.  See this article from the Charlotte Business Journal for the details. 

However, he is not alone.  As mentioned PB's David Ungemah is also helping beat the bushes for more transportation funding.  He was a scheduled speaker at last Friday's Charlotte Chamber 2013 Transportation Summit speaking on the topic of "Innovation Meets Revenue Generation".

So, here we have the same company which developed Charlotte's mass transit plan 15 years ago - a plan that was woefully optimistic - coming back to help solve the financing problem.  One of those people is someone who left after overseeing a project with massive cost overruns.  The idea never seems to occur to anyone with any real authority, elected or otherwise, that the plan may just be a bad plan.  And finally, the same consultants who put together this plan for mass transit are now being heavily involved in promoting an "innovative" solution to our road congestion problems.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The question has to be asked.  Are we insane?

UPDATE: Here's the CBJ's new article on Ron Tober's return to Charlotte transit as a PB consultant.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

CHS Breaks Ground Friday, Construction Site Problems Outlined at Town Board Meeting

As reports, Carolinas Healthcare System (CHS) will conduct an official groundbreaking on Friday at its new mental health facility on the Davidson East property, but as became apparent at this week's Town Board meeting problems began at the construction site weeks ago when site preparation actually started.

During Tuesday's meeting, Davidson Planning Board member, Martha Jenkins, read a prepared statement about her experience as a neighbor of the construction site.  Her statement was not focused on the nature of the facility, but solely on the impact its construction has had on her property.

Her below comments reflecting the impact of a planning decision by the Town on individual citizens and their property came on the same evening the Board voted on the controversial Woodie's Auto facility and the public hearing for a proposed 124 unit retirement community at Exit 30.  Both of those proposals drew valid comments from concerned neighbors. Both will likely be very good additions to the town. At the end of the discussion on Woodie's, Commissioner Wessner strongly recommended that Woodie's reach out to the surrounding residents to do what it can to alleviate their concerns and be a good neighbor. That was good advice.

Ms. Jenkins comments show what can happen when that does not occur.

Begin Mrs. Jenkins comments:

April 9, 2013

Good evening.

My name is Martha Cooke Jenkins.  I have lived at 16824 Davidson Concord Highway in the Davidson ETJ for 21 years.  Before that, I lived in Cornelius or its ETJ.  My husband, Lawson Jenkins grew up ½ mile west of our house so he has lived in the Davidson ETJ his entire life.  We both have been North Mecklenburg residents for over 57 years.

Lawson, Adam, Phillip and I have had an idyllic farming lifestyle on our small 16 acre tract…an older home with acreage and animals. On our western boundary, we have had the best neighbors in the world – a family with children about the same age as ours and the same complement of livestock.  Our eastern boundary was wooded and vacant until 3 months ago.  I was called to the Davidson Town Hall at the end of April 2012 to learn about the development plans for the 34 acre eastern tract.  As I told John Woods that day, “we don’t own the universe – just a small tract” – but I was in shock with the series of events that lead to the plans for a mental hospital on this eastern tract of land.  As both a Davidson ETJ resident and member of the Planning Board, I had been to every charrette and Planning Board meeting to work on plans for Davidson East and its extensive residential and business plans.  I don’t think I missed a single session to plan the neighborhood for the then Jacobus property.

Fast forward from those charrettes to new ownership and a lawsuit; today, the mental hospital construction is in high gear.  Since the property was resold in January 29, 2013, construction began on February 19 and has been going at a furious pace – six days a week from 7am to 6pm.  Trees of all sizes have been cut and removed from the site at an amazing rate and with an enormous amount of noise.  Pipes have been placed in the creek and back property elevation lines have been raised significantly above the original elevation.  Trucks, construction equipment and people have rolled on and off this tract at a rate that has made my head spin and terrified our horses.  On Day One of construction, our two horses ran and raced all that day in our pasture due to the new activities.  On Day Two of construction, we had to move our horses for boarding due to the constant noise of the construction and their fear of the equipment. 

Tonight I am here to ask for consideration on substantial fencing and/or a land berm to separate this business zoning from our rural reserve zoning.  I have made over three requests to CHS to not come on our property.  Week after week, we found more surveying tape on our creeks over the area that CHS had asked for a sewer easement.  Since we have not hired nor requested any surveying to be done on our property and had declined the CHS sewer easement request, this surveying was not done on behalf of the Jenkins.  Then, two weeks ago, we were dealt the most degrading and unhealthy example of trespassing.   Foam and plastic lunch debris was left on the Jenkins property, along with a cigarette butt (and none of us are smokers)-across the silt fence.  But the worst was yet to come.  Nearby were two piles of toilet paper plus human waste…..  I serve on the first responder team at work so I have been taught that human bodily fluids should not be touched for 2 weeks-unless sterilized- due to the time that germs can survive outside the body.  I immediately reported this to the remaining work crew who said their supervisor had already left for the day.  Then, I sent an email to CHS with photos documenting the trespassing and the toilet paper.  One port-a-jon was brought on site – at the highway edge – sometime after March 12 so I only can surmise what the workers used for the first three weeks?  A second port-o-jon was added last week.  I will put on protective gear and remove the toilet paper and human waste when I don’t have to fear the hazards.

Last week, CHS installed temporary construction fencing along our boundary which was a welcome relief.  However, there are no plans by CHS to place permanent fencing.  I want to appeal to the Town to 1) require permanent fencing and/or a berm to ensure the property lines are permanently delineated and all personnel on CHS’s property (today and in the future) will clearly know where the property lines are and 2) that CHS clearly ensures that the Jenkins property does not suffer erosion from water run off from CHS construction.  While the construction is underway, there is time for measures to be put in place to prevent run off issues from the CHS paved parking lot and from their retention pond.  Maybe they have this covered and I will be pleasantly surprised with measures to prevent erosion issues to our property.

I understand that ETJ residents have no voting rights so I am using this opportunity tonight during citizen comment time.  I hope the Town of Davidson will step up and require the adjoining property owner protection to delineate the property lines as the zoning transitions from business to rural.  We are where we are today… and we need to ensure that each property owner has the opportunity to use their property to the fullest without infringing on the adjoining property owner.  Please, please, please – follow through with proper transition from zoning categories and protection of property.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Davidson Board Meeting from the Twitterverse...Town to get new auto repair facility.

Coverage of Tuesday's Town Board meeting brought to you by Twitter...

6:04pm - April Brd Mtg-packed rm w/ Civics 101 pres & controversial planning items on agenda

6:06pm - Attendess of Civics 101 class "is what makes , Davidson" per Mayor Woods.

6:13 - Mayor Woods responds 2 citizen question a/b planning agenda items, publicly confirms has no interest in projects

6:15 - Concerts on the Green starts Sun 4/21 w/ College Symphony performing

6:15 - Lands Conservancy has several events upcoming...

6:24 - during public comment open...spkrs start in on possible approval of Woodie's Auto Repair in . Going to be lively!

6:28 - petition of 25 signatories opposing auto shop at that location in . Glad to have it somewhere else though!

6:32 - Ada Jenkins Director Georgia Krueger speaks in favor of Woodie's due to possible jobs for West Side residents

6:38 - Planning Brd member Martha Jenkins gives update on CHS mental health facility adjacent to her property.

6:44 - Planning Brd member John Kennedy- against Woodie's. "good for business & we need the revenue" not compelling reason

6:50 - update on CHS build in - not pretty...allegations of trespassing, litter, & other "waste" from construction site.

6:58 - update on volunteerism via Col, Mayor Woods points out unique status of students serving as volunteer firefighters

7:10 - presentations over Brd likely to vote on Woodie's soon...known supporters of proj remained silent during comments

7:12 - now talking a/b 2nd conditional planning change at Exit 30. This one for 124 unit retirement community.

7:14 - ordinance requires 1 parking space per unit, Retirement community would only have 100 including on-street spaces.

7:18 - 12 spaces of public street parking needed to even get to 100 spaces.

7:24 - residents adjacent 2 site already using these on-street spaces will be negatively impacted, request lower density

7:33 - Plan Brd mbr J Kenedy speaks against as-is retirement comm plan due 2 lack of parking, notes staff parking as well

7:36 - ....project architect for developer speaks. 15 NC facilities. only .6 spaces/unit needed due to age of residents.

7:52 - Commissioner & staff comments seem in favor of parking plan for retirement project. planning types still opposed

7:59 - : project architect has done these public mtgs before. has crowd laughing amid somewhat tense topic.

8:03 - : Committee on Aging asked by Comm Wessner 2 submit comments. DCOA still needs 2 research. Brd vote in 1 month

8:05 - : surprising number of residents hanging on at Brd mtg...waiting for Woodie's Auto vote???

8:15 - : Woodie's Auto discussion and pending vote now up on agenda at Brd meeting.

8:18 - : Commissioners asking questions allowing Woodie's owner to adress concerns. Seems to be leading to positive vote

8:21 - : Comm Fuller asks technical question of town attny Kline a/b "legislative authority" of Board in this question.

8:25 - : Comm Fuller notes Plan Brd/Plan Staff & neighbors oppose. Comm Jenest says could be "beautiful thing" like Rushco

8:29 - : Woodie's site could have 12-15 jobs at $75k/yr average pay. Comparable is Woodie's Carmel Rd store

8:35 - : Brd makes high use of word "compelling"...Comm Graham "not quite there"...

8:40 - : Comm Wessner comments on "precident" not guaranteeing future action; Comm Fuller says exceptions weaken ordinance

8:43 - Board seems to be split 3/2, possibly 4/1. Setting stage for unusual split vote on controversial topic.

8:49 - : Mayor Woods seems to be a supporter of plan. Does not have a vote though unless a tie. Tie won't happen tonight.

8:56 - : Attny Kline points out all commercial requires 2-stories. other sites would require similar exception.

9:12 - Comm Jenest motions to approve exception. Passes 3-2...Fuller & Graham nays...

9:43 - to get needed auto repair facility w/ zoning exception. Debate shows focus on planning alive and well! Signing off

Correction: Original references to CMS mental health facility should have been CHS.