Sunday, December 31, 2017

Irony, Density and Activism: A look back at 2017

By Melissa Atherton

Davidson brimmed with irony, density, and activism in 2017.

Readers will recall the 2017 vernacular: Birkdale on Beaty Street, Luminous, Crescent, Big Fat Sidewalks, CATS Red Line, Continuum, Hyatt Place, Missing Middle, I-77 Bonus Allocations, GO Bonds, West Branch “March of the Dump Trucks,” ironic anti-density/traffic letters to our neighboring towns, Roundabouts, and the RAP mass rezoning. Readers will recall the activism of Save Davidson, Paradise Lost and Citizens for a Safe Hotel Location. Names earned a permanent stamp in Davidson history: Woods, Jenest, Graham, Anderson, Cashion, Knox, Fuller, Fort, Michael, Campbell, and Sitton.

First, the tales of irony and density...Rumors floated that the Town was putting an end to apartments in the Village Infill. Citizens breathed a sigh of relief! The comical solution was to propose the as yet not adopted Missing Middle, the not-so-innocent text amendment that would REQUIRE apartments on 40-60% of any master plan over three acres. Davidson, unlike neighbors Huntersville and Cornelius, chose to approve millions to study the Red Line again, despite Norfolk Southern’s unwillingness to entertain shared projects on its lines. A lame-duck board thumbed its nose after the election and voted to approve conditional zoning that would allow a hotel next to two schools and our town's historically African-American neighborhood, despite a unanimous 10-0 disapproval from their own Planning Board.

The irony stumbled out to “West Branch,” a 300-plus homesite development with land planning by then Town Commissioner Brian Jenest’s firm. Greenway enthusiasts were devastated by the “March of the Dump Trucks” and they learned what a “Voluntary Buffer” looked like. Town records indicated that the same “Misinformed Housewife” who helped reduce the speed limit on Davidson-Concord Road had warned the Town about potential damage to the greenway, yet she was disregarded. The “Misinformed Housewife” also helped get over 700 petition signatures against the Infamous Rural Area Plan, a controversial mass rezoning that primarily targeted the ETJ. Ultimately, the RAP passed and we threw developers another bone.

Ironic letters were written to Mooresville (Lake Davidson) and Cornelius (Antiquity Woods-also land planned by Commissioner Brian Jenest’s firm). Davidson expressed great concern about the high-density and traffic issues that the developments would create for us. Then our planners went straight to work on the Potts Street/Crescent Development (Jenest’s firm again) that proposed 276 apartments and nineteen townhouses in an area boxed in by the lake, railroad, lumberyard and historic homes. The high-density development straddling the Davidson-Cornelius line only had one way in and out and would send traffic straight to Cornelius.

Our town-owned cable company, MI-Connection, was rebranded “Continuum,” while “cord cutting” went mainstream around the nation. The public was given just two weeks to comment on major NCDOT Projects U-5873 (Changes to 115/Davidson St./Potts St.) and U-5907 (Potts/Sloan Connection), and Kimley-Horn Design Consultant Ben Taylor publicly admitted he did not read the comments. Residents received large, glossy advertisements for the $15 million “GO Bonds” aimed at mobility, greenways and parks. Voters approved the bonds, despite the publicized Town warning that the same bonds may end up raising our taxes if there is insufficient revenue from DEVELOPMENT.

Speaking of irony, parks, and development, the Town spent eighteen months considering the sale of nineteen acres of town-owned land on Beaty Street. Venie Clontz sold the land to the Town over 30 years ago with the promise that it would be a park. Activist group Save Davidson protested, packed Town Hall, emailed, held lemonade stands, sold t-shirts and magnets, requested records, made videos, wrote Facebook posts, fact-checked, held SHINE events and information sessions. The contract was ultimately called off and the Town released a statement that they “could not agree to terms” with the developer of the Luminous. There was no reference to Save Davidson or their independent appraisal that revealed the property was possibly worth three times the Luminous offer..

Save Davidson’s grassroots activism was a powerful force in the 2017 municipal election. Five of the six elected candidates were endorsed by the group: Mayor Rusty Knox and Commissioners Jim Fuller, Autumn Michael, Matthew Fort, and David Sitton. All five candidates expressed the desire to keep Davidson a small town. Davidson College Alumna Jane Campbell won her seat independently with a campaign based on military experience and leadership experience. Mayor John Woods and Commissioners Stacey Anderson and Rodney Graham lost their seats, while Commissioners Beth Cashion and Brian Jenest did not seek another term.

The newly-elected mayor and board have their work cut out for them. Development and density will likely continue to be the hot topics in 2018. Davidson is a charming town that prides itself on independently-owned small businesses, great schools, walkability, and quaint neighborhoods. The struggle between Small College Town and Charlotte Suburb will continue.


Thanks to Melissa Atherton for this synopsis of the past year in Davidson.  It was a busy one.  Here's to next year being less so - at least when it comes to controversy coming out of Town Hall.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A gag gift for Davidson this Christmas... Potts Street Development TIA submitted

By Melissa Atherton

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was on social media, not even a mouse;
Their cars were parked in their driveways with care,
In hopes that infrastructure soon would be there;
The adjacent landowners were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of a small college town danced in their heads

The first test for the freshly-inaugurated officials of Davidson and Cornelius came quickly and quietly on Christmas Eve.  While families traveled and celebrated unaware, the Transportation Impact Analysis Plan (TIA) dated December 11th for Crescent's Potts Street Development was posted to the Town of Davidson website nearly two weeks later over the long holiday weekend.

See the entire TIA here.

Kimley-Horn’s analysis included seven recommendations that may or may not happen in a timely manner to relieve congenstion:

  1. Payment in-lieu​ of construction of a southbound right-turn lane at Sloan/Beaty/Griffith.
  2. Payment in-lieu ​of construction of an eastbound right-turn lane at Catawba Avenue and Main Street in Davidson.
  3. Payment in-lieu​ of a left-turn lane from Davidson onto Davidson Street in Cornelius.
  4. Payment in-lieu​ of an eastbound right-turn lane at Davidson Street in Cornelius.
  5. Payment in-lieu ​of a sidewalk extension on the west side of 115 between Davidson Street and Cornelius Street in Cornelius.
  6. Multi-use path (AKA Big Fat Sidewalk) from the 246 apartments and fourteen townhouses to the YMCA.
  7. Secondary ingress/egress​ from the high-density apartment complex to Catawba Avenue in Davidson (passes through private property currently owned by Davidson Presbyterian Church). 

Multiple intersections received an “F” or worsening grades for pedestrian and vehicle traffic, even when NCDOT Projects U-5873 (Potts/NC115 intersection redesign) and U-5907 (Potts-Sloan-Beaty connector) were included in the study.

Given that Crescent construction would likely begin in 2018, while the NCDOT construction would begin in 2022, many wonder how this plan could conceivably or responsibly be approved.  Citizens could all potentially spend the next four years parked in traffic on NC 115.

The newly-elected Mayors and Commissioners of Davidson and Cornelius must work together to address the myriad issues:

  • Will they allow the Crescent development to proceed without the infrastructure recommended in the TIA being in place?
  • What would happen if the I77 Toll Road was completed and the contract deleted thereby possibly forfeiting the $6 million U-5873  and $2.2 million U-5907 “Bonus Allocation” projects?
  • Would the changes recommended in Cornelius necessitate an “interlocal agreement”, to which Cornelius is opposed?

All eyes are on the neighboring towns of Davidson and Cornelius who are tied at the hip on this one.  Will they be up to the challenge?

Melissa Atherton lives in Davidson and has been following the various developments along Potts Street closely.  Look for more stories from her on these and other subjects here at aShortChronicle in 2018.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Bike Shares come to Charlotte. Might they be in Davidson soon?

Uptown Charlotte has seen a lot of changes in recent years...too many new buildings to count, old buildings getting face lifts, many more restaurants and residents. It has seen a growing number of higher quality street food vendors and even the occasional street performers to augment the regularly appearing street preachers...all good things for a growing urban area.

Recently, something else has started showing up all over Uptown - bicycles - lots and lots of bicycles.  Hundreds of orange, lime green, and silver bikes are just parked on the corner - almost every corner.  They aren't in bike racks.  They aren't chained to trees or lamp posts.  They are just parked here and there and everywhere.




So, what are all these random bicycles parked all over the place?  They are Charlotte's latest endeavor into shared transportation, or in this case what's called the "bike share" movement.  They are from companies called Spin (orange), LimeBike (green), Mobike (silver), and Ofo (yellow, coming soon)

Charlotte has had bike sharing in Uptown for several years via the government subsidized B-cycle program.  However, the big difference is that these new entrants are dockless while B-cycle requires users find an actual docking station as shown below.


The new dockless systems allow users to find the nearest bike using a smartphone app, unlock the bike by scanning a QR code, and pay using a credit card.  One-way rides start at $1 for 30 mins.  When the user is done with their trip, they just lock the bike's rear wheel and leave it anywhere they like.  If it is not there when they return, then they just find another one to use.  That shouldn't be too hard as each of these new companies have licences to put hundreds of these bikes on Charlotte streets.

It remains to be seen if the new systems take off in ways B-cycle has not.  The docked system is less convenient and more expensive for casual use.  It really only appeals to Uptown residents who happen to live and work near docking stations and will use it regularly.  If the new fleets of dockless stations take off in popularity, don't be too surprised if you see them expanding.

Might this type of thing one day be seen in Davidson?  Bike shares are also becoming a thing with college campuses and Davidson is a college town.

While the idea may sound far fetched, it shouldn't be seen that way.  In a town like Davidson, these seemingly small and benign factors can have far ranging consequences on how the Town makes decisions and spends money.

Davidson Town Hall has a history of hiring consultants who favor this sort of thing, and the Town is currently undergoing a Mobility Plan.  When former Commissioners Beth Cashion, Brian Jenest, Rodney Graham, and Stacey Anderson approved the Griffith Street Hotel in a controversial lame duck vote before leaving office, one of the "conditions" they put on the developer was to include building a  bike sharing station.  See staff analysis here.  Things like the increasingly ubiquitous Big Fat Sidewalk (aka Multi-Use Path) show up on lists of proposed bond money projects, and getting these things built was at least one driver of the Beaty Street RFP.  All of this is to support bicycle use.

Is all that necessarily a bad thing for Davidson?  Maybe not.  In fact aShortChronicle likes riding bikes as much as the next person.  However, it does provide a good example of how these ideas have a way of seeping into the decision-making process in what is often a less than fully transparent manner.

...and that is something the town does need to change.

Update:  They are already here.

Here is a photo of something callef VBike already parked at Davidson Commons.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Town of Davidson Offices Close for the Holidays

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Due to the upcoming holidays, the Town of Davidson offices will close Monday, December 25, Tuesday, December 26, and Wednesday, December 27, re-opening on Thursday, December 28.  The offices will close again on Monday, January 1, 2018, in celebration of the new year.

Republic Services will operate on a one-day delay for garbage collection for the week of December 25, so carts usually emptied on Monday will be emptied Tuesday, those usually emptied on Tuesday will be emptied Wednesday, etc.

Republic Services will operate on a one-day delay for garbage and recycling collection for the week of January 1, so carts usually emptied on Monday will be emptied Tuesday, those usually emptied on Tuesday will be emptied Wednesday, etc.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Motivators greater than $$$ drive activists...

When you have a few minutes, check out the below video aShortChronicle came across recently.  It speaks directly to why "activists" do what they do even when there is no money involved for their own personal gain.

Click Here to Watch

The context of the video is business with technology and innovation as the main focus.  However, the first time I saw it, what came to mind were the 1000s of collective hours put into community activism through groups such as Save Davidson and the many other activist driven efforts around town.

The video hits on three points that are actually more motivating than money - Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.  Autonomy is the "ability to manage our own lives."  Mastery is "the urge to get better at stuff".  Purpose is the desire to do great things, or as Steve Jobs of Apple put it, the desire to "put a ding in the universe."

Community activism doesn't pay in monetary terms but the rewards in these other areas can be great, and that's one of the real reasons why the people involved in these organizations do what they do.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

4-year terms rears its ugly head...in Charlotte

The idea of staggered 4-year terms is the Holy Grail of politicians who want to "rule" rather than "govern".

It is inherently anti-democratic.  It is a setup that prevents the voting public from making wholesale changes - even when necessary for the good of the community.  Fortunately, it also typically meets with strong public pushback whenever elected officials are foolish enough to bring it up.

Charlotte's newly seated Board however appears to be considering it.  See this article from the Charlotte Observer for the details.

For those not familiar with the setup, here's what it does.  Instead of all elected officials being elected every 2 years as is done in all the North Mecklenburg towns, half of the Commissioners are elected one cycle for four year terms.  Two years later the remaining Commissioners and the Mayor are elected for four year terms.

Elected officials like 4-year staggered terms because they have to run less often.  They also like it because it provides stability.  (Career politicians, or those who aspire to be, love nothing more than stability.)

Davidson's recent election should provide the region all the counter example it needs for why 4-year staggered terms are a bad idea.  Can you imagine if the crew of now former Davidson elected officials had not all been up for election?  What kind of shennaigans might they have gotten up to?  Under a 4-year staggered terms setup the voters who just corrected the problems around the Davidson dais would not have been able to thoroughly do so.

Though, there is an upside to having this debate about term lengths periodically.

Here at aShortChronicle HQ there's something kinda fun to watch when electeds get power hungry and think about pushing for this change.  The public consistently wants nothing to do with it.  It motivates people to get involved and work to stop it.  The stability so coveted by the electeds tends to be shown the door along with the bad idea of 4-year terms.  That's what happened in Davidson when Town Hall tried to push for it in 2011/2012.  The idea was shut down...twice.  It certainly would happen again if it was to ever come up in Davidson in the future, and that will most likely happen in Charlotte if their new Board pushes for it as well.

Friday, December 15, 2017

How the "experts" missed the wave that swamped Davidson politics

Back in August, BusinessTodayNC.com ran a story on the burgeoning social media impact on local politics.  The focus of this piece relied on the opinions of local "experts".  To a person, they marginalized the role and impact of social media as a potential change agent in the upcoming elections.   To a person, they were wrong.

Much of the content of this article revolved around Davidson.  It parroted many of the strawman arguments made by the traditional supporters of Davidson Town Hall during the campaign season. Here are a few of the things they got wrong and the reasons why.

The "experts" decried the tone of online commentary.

"Tone" or the supposed incivility of online groups was raised by the experts and by those supporting the former status quo in Davidson.  They used generalizations regarding the typical tone of online discussions to paint the specific Davidson discussions as somehow being "uncivil".  However, let's be clear.  In Davidson groups like Save Davidson, Paradise Lost, and Citizens for a Safe Davidson Hotel Location were all very well moderated.  Anything that could be called a true personal attack was not tolerated.  Strong disagreement with Town Hall and elected official was allowed, hard core personal attacks were not.

The Business Today article quoted a post from former Davidson Commissioner Sandy Carnegie made on several of these groups, pointing out that Carnegie had said "there should be no personal attacks of anyone for any reason."   The way the quote was used in the article implied the sites were somehow rife with these so called personal attacks.  The reality was actually just the opposite, and this quote was really just a very good example of how well these groups policed themselves.

The attempts throughout this past election to smear these Facebook groups by calling them "uncivil" were either made out of ignorance because those making the claims didn't actually read the groups, or they were made in a cynical attempt to minimize the impact of free speech by keeping other people from reading.

Those attempts failed.

These groups kept growing throughout the year, providing proof people were not turned off by the tone.  If anything, the smears against social media and online citizen activism backfired.

The "experts" erroneously equated the number of individuals posting on various social media groups with the impact of the groups.

It is fairly common knowledge that the vast majority of Facebook posts are made by a very small percentage of users.  That was certainly true here in Davidson.  However, in Davidson these Facebook groups effectively became the main distribution points for local news and information on various subjects.  Many of these subjects were pertinent to the election.  With that in mind, focusing on the number of posters in these groups as a proxy for the groups' reach and effectiveness is like saying a newspaper has limited impact because only a few journalists write all of the stories.

aShortChronicle posted a lot of stories on these groups and while this is just a lowly blog and yours truly is not a journalist, here is some data.  aShortChronicle has never posted raw numbers of page views in the past, but here is the graph of the monthly pageviews since the blog's inception.

Clearly, something happened in 2017.

In September, October, and November of this year, aShortChronicle averaged 32.5 thousand pageviews per month.  Almost all of that traffic was driven by social media, and as the graph shows, each of those consecutive months was an all-time monthly record.  While pageviews does not equate to distinct readers, the explosive growth in 2017 corresponds to the growth of these various groups on Facebook and the more widespread use of the Nextdoor platform in Davidson.  That data point combined with the constantly growing membership numbers of these various Facebook groups and use of Nextdoor shows those groups' true reach.

The "experts" minimized the impact social media has in the real world and in getting people out to vote.

This one really seemed like a case of the "experts" whistling past the graveyard.  These social media groups may be big, but they won't get people to the polls was their thinking.

Really!?!?

The "experts" must have forgotten about the impact Facebook groups like WidenI77 and Exit 28 Ridiculousness had on the election for Governor in 2016.  Pat McCrory is out of Raleigh in large part because of the impact these groups had in changing votes in the Lake Norman area due to the I77 HOT lanes issue.  It seems like flat out denial to think the same wouldn't happen in an even more localized election, but that's what the experts sure seemed to think.

As the election unfolded, turnout data showed how wrong they were in this thinking.

During campaign season, the one argument defenders of the former Davidson status quo made relentlessly was to attack several of the new candidates for not having voted in previous Davidson elections.  The new candidates were painted as unqualified simply because they had not participated in previous votes.  This fabricated "issue" played out in Facebook groups, on personal Facebook pages, and on Nextdoor.

It was a predictable attack, and it backfired terribly.

As early voting began, aShortChronicle was interested in the number of 1st time and infrequent voters in municipal elections.  The thought was that these voters would not care about this attack and might even be offended by it because they too had not voted much or at all in previous Davidson elections.  This measure seemed like a good proxy to guage the potential impact of this attack on certain candidates.

The numbers were through the roof.

In early voting, people who had not voted in the last decade (called "1st time" voters for this analysis) or who had voted only once in the previous decade ("infrequent" voters), constituted nearly 50% of the vote.  On election day itself, this percentage spiked and brought this category of new/infrequent municipal voters to a shocking 59% of the entire electorate.

That was the game changer.  When you add in that the main argument against some of the challengers was to attack their voting record, the supporters of the status quo were effectively also attacking nearly 2/3 of the electorate.  When you do that, you lose.

Considering the final outcome, clearly social media educated and turned out a lot of people who would not have been there otherwise.  In fact it would be fair to say it completely changed the electorate in Davidson.

How the experts missed that this was happening just goes to show the trouble one can get into when making generalizations.  "All politics is local" goes the saying, and this year in Davidson you had to look at the actual local dynamics to see what was really brewing.  The signs were all there, you just had to know where to look.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

PSA from ToD- Unlocked Vehicles Lead to Break-ins

DAVIDSON, N.C. – In the early morning hours of December 12, 2017, Davidson Police Officers responded to several breaking and entering and larceny from motor vehicle calls in the River Run and Bradford neighborhoods. Most of the victims reported that their vehicles were unlocked at the time of the thefts. PLEASE make sure your vehicles are locked at night and that ALL garage doors are closed and secured. This type of crime is preventable when vehicles are kept locked. Over the past few months we have experienced a drop in this type of crime. The Davidson Police Department attributes this reduction to citizens proactively locking their doors.

We ask residents with outdoor video surveillance systems that capture sidewalks and/or street views to review their footage from the early morning hours on December 11 and 12. If you have images of any suspicious individuals, please contact Detective Jay Stokes at 704-892-5131 or 704-940-9633.  

“Christmas is approaching fast,” said Davidson Police Detective Jay Stokes. “Let’s work together to lock cars, garages, and homes to send a strong message that the Town of Davidson will not be a location of opportunity for criminals.”  

These incidents serve to remind all residents, regardless of neighborhood, to lock their vehicles and all doors, including garage doors, at night. The Davidson Police Department wants people to know that these types of crimes are preventable. Offenders make split-second decisions based on their perception of what is inside each vehicle. These crimes take less than a minute to complete and are often carried out between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

History made in Davidson with swearing in of new Board

With Judge Eric Levinson leading the swearing in of five new elected officials on Tuesday at Davidson Town Hall, the message was clear.

The guard has changed.

By analysis done here at aShortChronicle, this is the only election in town history where as many Commissioners and the Mayor have changed.  Yes, there have been a few cycles with significant turnover, but nothing like what was seen Tuesday night.  Also, many of those previous cycles with significant turnover involved previously elected officials returning to elected office.  The new faces Tuesday night are truly new this time around.

Readers, that is a good thing, and it has been a long time coming.  Congratulations and thanks go to the people who stepped up to run for change and made it happen.

The group of officials taking over running the ship is highly qualified.  Davidson voters can be proud of who they've selected.  This group brings a wealth and diversity of experience that will serve the town well.  They have the wind at their backs after a resounding election victory, and they have the opportunity to make the course corrections Davidson residents want.

But....doing so will require them to be bold, and bold action is expected by the public.

Changes at the dais alone won't change policy.  That will require hard decisions to prove business as usual won't be accepted.

Here's to that being the case!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Davidson vote in pictures...

A month after election day and the day of swearing in the new Board, data on the last Davidson election is starting to be available.

Data can tell you a lot when presented in the right format, and elections are a particularly data rich environment.  Voter registration info and voter history don't tell you how people vote, but they do tell you who voted.  That alone can reveal a lot about why elections turn out the way they do.  Regular readers of aShortChronicle will know we are data geeks at heart, so we are particularly excited to be able to show you the below.

All thanks and credit go to Ben Beall of Davidson for pulling together these maps using Excel, Google, and data available from the Board of Elections.  It is rare that you get to see this level of detail on a hyper local election.  The time and effort pulling them together is much appreciated.

These first three maps show registered voters against those who voted early and those who voted on election day.




These next three maps show the actual breakdown of the vote by voter segment which is a rough approximation for neighborhood.




What jumps off the page is that even though turnout was way up this cycle, there are still major segments of the voting population who stayed home.  The more heavily populated in-town neighborhoods voted in higher percentages while Davidson's East Side and Exit 30 areas still didn't manage to make it to the polls in large percentages.  Davidson College students almost completely stayed home.

The interesting thing about that is that situation is no different than most Davidson elections.  Combine that with the turnover in elected officials, and one can surmise that only happened because even Davidson's most regular voters from the in-town neighborhoods finally decided in significant numbers that it was time for a change.

At the swearing in ceremony tonight, that change will finally happen.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

5 ideas for the new Davidson Board to improve land use policy

In a continuation of new ideas for the soon to be seated new Davidson Mayor and Board of Commissioners, here are 5 ideas on how the town can improve and protect Davidson's land use policy.

1.  Vote down or indefinitely table the "missing middle" concept from Davidson's Village Infill area.   As reported earlier, the outgoing Board has chosen not to vote on this at their last meeting.  The new Board should let that sleeping dog lie.  Davidson does not need more high-density development particularly in the Village area where the infrastructure is not designed to handle it.

2.  Remove "density averaging" as a concept in the planning ordinance.  Density averaging is a sleight of hand maneuver used by developers, to overcome limits on the amount of impervious surface allowed on a given parcel.  Simply put, impervious area on another parcel somewhere in the same drainage area is transfered to the target parcel allowing more dense development than would otherwise be allowed on the target parcel.  Density averaging permits are approved by the Board of Adjustment, a sub body of the Planning Board.

3.  Keep rural areas rural until development plans are available.  As part of this idea, the Board should do what is necessary to roll back the mass rezoning to Neighborhood General, Neighborhood Services, and Neighborhood Edge done earlier  this year as part of "implementing" the Rural Area Plan.

4.  Revisit the Comprehensive Plan and consider down zoning any large parcels to remove multi-family as a by right building type from the standard zoning areas.  This does not mean Davidson will never have more multi-family housing, but it would mean large scale multi-family proposals would need to go through the conditional zoning process which gives the town more control.

5.  The Town needs to put its money where its mouth  is when it comes to pushing back against aggressive developers.  A legal defense fund should be set up to stand behind a reinvigorated defence of the town planning ordinance by the staff and elected officials.  This fund can be seeded with $250,000 from the $1 million fund set aside for Mi-Connection subsidies owed Mooresville.  Developers need to know for certain they are in for a lengthy and expensive fight if they come with crazy proposals that don't fit with the town character.  Sometimes a credible threat of retaliation is the best way to avoid an actual confrontation.  This fund will provide that for the town.

Davidson's new Board has work to do to untangle the gordian knotted mess left by the soon to be previous elected officials.  These five ideas if implemented would cut right through it.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tuesday agenda...Swearing in the new Board, but no "missing middle"

Citizens can breath a momentary sign of relief....aaaaahhh.

The agenda for Davidson's upcoming Dec 12th meeting was just posted, and it appears outgoing Commissioners will not be voting on the "missing middle" text amendments that would force multi-family housing into the Village Infill area.  They will receive an update on the subject and will no be voting on them. aShortChronicle dpuble checked thos with the Town PIO, Christina Shaul, late Thursday afternoon.

That is good news to citizens worried the outgoing Board might pass these unwanted amendments as their last act just moments prior to the swearing in of the new crop of elected officials.

Tuesday will signal the changing of the guard at Davidson Town Hall.  It is very good to see that won't be tarnished by controversy (or at least not this one).

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Room In The Inn has started...consider volunteering this winter

It may not feel much like winter, but this week marks the beginning of Urban Ministries annual "Room In The Inn" program, or RITI.

The RITI program works with regional institutions, mostly churches, to provide additional beds off the street for our homeless neighbors during the winter months.  From December through March volunteers transport, feed, and provide shelter for people in need.

To give you a sense of the numbers involved, at just DUMC here in Davidson, last winter the church provided transportation, meals and overnight shelter for 603 homeless neighbors over 50 nights.   In the Charlotte region there are dozens of churches involved in the program.

Volunteering for this effort gives you an up close and personal view of one of the most intractable problems in our society.  Homelessness is a challenge every large city faces.  However, through volunteering with RITI, one gets the  chance to break some of the stereotypes surrounding who makes up this population.  You will see the "working poor" - people who have jobs but for one reason or the other don't have housing.  You will see veterans.  You will see families with young children.  You will see lots of people that you may see on the street at any other time and not recognize as someone who doesn't have a place to sleep that night.

What you won't see in the RITI program are the hard core homeless, people with serious mental or substance abuse issues.  RITI has strict rules for its applicants and  goes to great lengths to ensure a safe environment for volunteers.  (This part is mentioned in case that's a concern for potential volunteers.)

I have been a driver for the program over the past several winters, and can attest it is definitely something that can change your outlook.  I will never forget dropping off a family with a young boy the same age as my own son at the transit center in Uptown on one of the coldest mornings of the year a couple winters ago.

So, here is a personal request, or maybe consider it a challenge.  If you are interested in helping out in some small way this winter, there is always a need for more helping hands.  Consider volunteering for RITI.  The DUMC program in Davidson has open spots.  People are needed to drive, prepare food, and stay the night.  It works great if groups can cover an entire evening, pick up through drop off in the morning, though drivers are available if that is the piece that can't be filled.  Volunteers need not be church members.

If you are interested in helping out, contact me here or on Facebook.

Monday, December 4, 2017

NEWS FLASH - Santa scouts Davidson on 12/13 and 12/14

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Santa Claus will be in Davidson for a brief pre-Christmas Eve visit to review his route with the Davidson Fire Department. Santa will transfer from his sleigh to a fire engine for a ride about town on Wednesday, December 13 from about 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (for Town of Davidson locations EAST of the East Rocky River roundabout) and Thursday, December 14 from about 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (for Town of Davidson locations WEST of the East Rocky River roundabout).

Santa’s time is limited and turning around in cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets is difficult for the fire engine. If you live on a cul-de-sac or dead-end, please observe from the entrance of your neighborhood, so you can see Santa on his route. 

“We look forward to driving Santa around town to scope out his Christmas Eve route,” said Davidson Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald. “Please come out and wave to Santa as we pass by.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Davidson Fire Station #2 update


The groundbreaking for Davidson's long awaited Fire Station #2 on Davidson-Concord Road happened in October 2016 with actual construction starting soon afterwards.

Since initial projections were that it might be open sometime during this past summer, aShortChronicle checked in with the Town to see what the holdup was on finishing the project.  Here is what Town Public Information Officer Christina Shaul had to say.

"Thanks for reaching out about the new fire station. We’re very excited about it and when it’s complete, it’s going to be a wonderful facility that will provide improved fire and medical service to the eastern part of our jurisdiction.

Yes, we have had two major setbacks:
  1. We had a very wet spring. The site is shady, so it takes a long time to dry out after a rainstorm. In order to pour concrete, the site needed to be dry.
  2. We had a big thunderstorm this summer that blew off the roof, so it had to be re-built.

We are trying to pin down a completion date this week, so we can schedule the ribbon-cutting/grand opening ceremony and an open house for all citizens to attend. It will likely be on a Saturday in the new year. After the ceremony, there will be tours, demonstrations of equipment and trucks, and food. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this addition to our fire department and town."

A bit of good news in spite of the delays is that the project is still on budget.

If you are interested in supporting the fire department and it's new location, there is a fundraiser open to the public at the River Run county club this Sunday from 1 - 3:30pm.  See here for details

CATS Red Line survey works against idea of Red Line

It has been regularly in the news recently that CATS is once again studying the possibility of bringing rail transit to North Meck.  Cornelius and Huntersville recommended against the study this past summer in favor of spending the money on improvements to bus service, but predictably, Davidson went along with the new spending.  See this earlier story on that here.

CATS is paying $2.3 million for consultants from WSP (formerly Parson Brinkerhoff)  to study (again) the idea of rail transit to the Lake Norman region.  Long-time readers of aShortChronicle will remember that Parsons Brinckerhoff consultants have long been involved in studying the Red Line, raking in millions in fees with little to show for it.  Check the Red Line Chronicle for all that detail.

As part of this study the consultants put up an online survey that ended sometime last week.  aShortChronicle took the survey and screen captured the below results asof November 19th, shortly before it went offline.  What's funny is the results seem to indicate a significant amount of inconsistency in what respondents want out if a North Mecklenburg mass transit option.  In particular the results indicate that the long planned commuter rail option may be the least effective at meeting those desired uses.

Take a look at the results.





  • Taken all together, time appears to be the biggest driver with speed/reliability being the top ranked criteria in the Tradeoffs and Transit Priorities rankings.
  • Travel to Uptown for work was the top corridor priority.  That is not surprising.  It also works against rail as an option because any planned rail line will likely terminate at the Gateway Station being built on West Trade street - far from where most Uptown workers actually work.  That will require transferring to the Streetcar which will add time and inconvenience.
  • Two of the other top ranked Corridor Priorities by the number of respondents were for Events and Entertainment and connecting to Charlotte Douglas Airport.  The long planned commuter rail would likely not run at night and weekends for things like going to a Panthers game or a night on the town.  The Gateway Station location works against these uses as - again - it isn't near these areas.  Also, spending a couple billion on a rail solution so people can go out drinking seems like a terrible use of public money.  As for connecting to Charlotte Douglas, does anyone really believe business travelers or families will catch rail to Uptown, transfer to another train or mode of public transit and go to the airport with luggage and kids in tow?  It sounds nice, but likely not practical. 
  • It also seems interesting that while people responded that they wanted to drive to stations they also said they wanted stations in mixed use developments.  As a ten year bus rider, one has to wonder if respondents thought about the fact that driving to a stop and being part of a mixed use development may be inconsistent with time being a top priority.  If stops are in mixed use developments, the parking will have to be in garages and not flat lots meaning added time going to/from the station and likely added cost to use a parking garage.

The solution to all of these points is simple, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

With the I77 HOT lanes expansion underway, CATS is already planning on expanding commuter bus service to the Lake Norman area.  This will be true even if the anti-toll efforts succeed and the "complete and delete" option removes the tolls.  BRT would allow for more flexible service to meet the above concerns.  It would allow for seamless no-transfer rides to Uptown and down Trade Street to the main business district just as the express buses do today - making it faster.  It would allow for multiple direct routes to Uptown and Charlotte Douglas.  Interestingly, with the type of Transit Vehicle being the lowest ranked priority that seems to burst the long-standing canard used by rail advocates that white collar workers prefer trains over buses.  In reality, this survey says that doesn't matter much.  It would also be less intrusive on the North Mecklenburg towns yo construct and significantly less expensive and faster to build.

With all that said, CATS's latest rail study - at least from the perspective of potential users - seems to say rail isn't the best option.  As this goes forward it will be interesting to see how the rail transit proponents spin this.  You can be sure they will try.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Five ways to fight gentrification of Davidson's Westside neighborhood

During the recently completed election, maintaining Davidson's small town character was a driving theme of the campaign season.  A major factor in achieving that goal will be limiting gentrification of Davidson's Westside neighborhood.  In a growing region that's a tall order, but here are five concrete ways to achieve it.

1.  Reduce Davidson's solid waste fee and return to the policy of having this paid for out of property taxes.  The town's solid waste fee which is by far the  highest  of any of the neighboring towns is a regressive "tax" that impacts low income households more than others.  It was implemented during the height of subsidies for Mi-Connection as a way to free up money to pay for those subsidies.

2.  The Town should work with local realtors and attorneys to provide pro-bono advice to Westside homeowners to ensure investors don't take advantage of homeowners in the neighborhood.  This would ensure the highest resale values in the neighborhood and reduce the attractiveness of buying property for teardown projects.

3.  The Town should abandon the idea of the Red Line rail transit project in favor of supporring Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  Rail transit along the current proposed alignment more than anything else will accelerate gentrification along its route by concentrating high density development around the station area bordering the Westside neighborhood.

4.  Assuming the current Davidson Depot project at the Metrolina Warehouse site eventually collapses under the remediation costs to clean up the asbestos contamination, the Town should work with the property owner and the development community to maintain the historic nature of the site in any future development effort undertaken there.

5.  In light of the lame duck approval of the Hyatt Place hotel by the outgoing Board, the new Board should investigate reversing that approval by any legal means available.  In addition, the Town should severely limit any additional conditional approvals on nearby property going forward.

Implementing these ideas will require a high degree of political courage and fiscal discipline, however if Town Hall truly wants to preserve economic and racial diversity in this town they are all certainly very doable.  Making progress on these items would also be a tangible sign the new Board is truly willing to put effort and action behind the idea of maintaining Davidson's small town character.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017 Christmas in Davidson and North Meck Christmas Parade Info

DAVIDSON, NC – Christmas in Davidson, one of Davidson’s signature events, will be November 30, December 1 and 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. each night. 

Opening ceremonies begin on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. with the arrival of Santa Claus on the town green. Children can visit Santa at Davidson College Presbyterian Church’s Congregation House at 218 Concord Road each night.

Other event highlights include:
·         a live nativity, complete with live animals,
·         strolling carolers and other live entertainment,
·         a doggie fashion show,
·         an ugly holiday sweater contest, and
·         a wide variety of food offerings.

Guests can expect to find unique gifts at our many specialty shops.

Visitors can also enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides that depart regularly from Davidson Town Hall. Again this year, we’re offering the ability to pay for carriage ride tickets online to expedite the process. Please visit www.townofdavidson.org/CarriageRides to select a date, time frame, and pay. Visitors can also sign up at the booth in front of town hall each night (while tickets last).

Downtown Davidson and the South Main district will be participating in this year’s event. Additional parking will be available at Homewood Suites and Harris Teeter parking lots at the Circles@30, and a free trolley service will run continually between downtown, South Main, satellite parking areas, and some of our neighborhoods. Please see details below. 

The Doggie Fashion Show is on Friday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. on the Davidson Public Library stage. Participants can register at www.townofdavidson.org/doggiefashionshow.

The Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest is on Saturday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m. on the Davidson Public Library stage.  No registration is required – simply show up in your festive sweater!

“TapSnap,” an interactive photo booth on the town green will be back again all three nights. Participants will receive free printed photos to take home. A collage of all photos taken during Christmas in Davidson will be uploaded to the Town of Davidson’s Facebook page (please like us at “Town of Davidson, NC – Town Hall”).

“We are looking forward to a few new attractions this year as well as the traditional favorites of Christmas in Davidson,” said Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming.

Street Closures
Each evening at 5:00 p.m., Main Street from Concord Road to Jackson Street will be closed to traffic, so citizens can enjoy walking to all of our shops, restaurants, and activities.  Lorimer Road from Concord Road to the CVS parking lot will also be closed.  Handicapped parking spaces will be available in the library parking lot along Lorimer Road, and an attendant will be present to allow drivers in. 

Trolley Service
We offer trolley service around town at the Circles@30, downtown, and at the South Main commercial district; look for trolley stop signs in each location. Since it was so successful last year, we’ll run trolleys to some of our neighborhoods to pick up and drop off citizens. Trolley stops will be at the following locations:

Route 1: Starts at Davidson Landing, stops in downtown Davidson and South Main Street areas, and stops at Harris Teeter.

Route 2: Starts at River Run athletic field parking lot on Robert Walker Drive, and stops at:
Corner of North Kimberly and McConnell Drive,
Corner of Ashby Drive and Lingle Drive,
Corner of Fairview Drive and Caldwell Lane, and
Corner of Concord Road and Faculty Drive and heads to Main Street.

Trolleys run from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. each evening on a continuous loop of about 15 minutes, starting at the farthest points from town.

For more information on Christmas in Davidson, including a listing of everything going on each night and a map of trolley stops, please visit www.christmasindavidson.com or pick up a program at town hall.

North Mecklenburg Christmas Parade
The 35th annual North Mecklenburg Christmas Parade begins on the corner of Griffith and Main streets in Davidson on Saturday, December 2 at 1:30 p.m. and proceeds south on Main Street (Hwy. 115) to Old Canal Street at the entrance to Antiquity in Cornelius. The streets being used for parade staging (Jackson from Depot to Delburg, Watson, and Griffith from Main to Sloan/Beaty) will close starting at 10:00 a.m. Main Street from Beaty Street in Davidson south to the Cornelius border will close at noon and will re-open at approximately 3:30 p.m. 
For more information on the parade, including detour maps, please visit www.townofdavidson.org/parade.

Parade Grand Marshal: Sterling Martin
Sterling Martin has lived in Davidson since 1959.  He is married to Mary Hopkins Martin and is the proud father of four children -- Jennifer, Mary Ann, Laura, and Sterling III, as well as six grandchildren -- Jonas, Luke, Max, Spencer, Melanie, and Beth.

Educated at Davidson College (class of ’63), Sterling worked for the college for 43 years where he served as the Assistant Director of the College Union, the Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach, the Director of Physical Education, Intramurals, Club Sports, and the Lake Campus.  On three occasions, he was the Interim Director of Athletics.

His dedication to service organizations is noteworthy.  Sterling was the Assistant Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster of Troop 58 in Davidson, served for 20 years on the Town of Davidson Parks and Recreation Committee and Livability Board, was the 2007 and 2008 President of the Davidson Lands Conservancy, a Habitat for Humanity builder, and more.  He currently serves on the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Commission. Involved at Davidson Presbyterian Church since 1964, he has held the positions of deacon and elder.

Sterling has won several honors ranging from All-Conference Cross Country Runner 1960, 1961, and 1962 to Boy Scouts of America District Scouter of the Year in 1994 to the Town of Davidson’s Burney Award in 2012.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Missing Middle heads to Planning Board Meeting 11/27/17

As this current Davidson administration comes to an end there is one last controversial item this Board is looking to pass - the "Missing Middle" text amendments.

aShortChronicle told you about these changes in this earlier post.  They are designed to ensure multifamily building occurs in the Village Infill area of town.

At the November 14th meeting Commissioners unanimously sent these text amendments to the Planning Board, and that is now the only real item on the Planning Board agenda this coming Monday, November 27th.  See here.

In an oddly "holiday themed" presentation, Planning staff make the case that forced multi-family in the village infill area is a good thing.  There are a number of slides about demographics.  A slide on their ongoing campaign against the automobile.  It implies this will help housing affordability.

However, forcinging multi-family housing buildings into neighborhoods that currently don't have them and weren't designed for them hardly seems like a "present" for Davidson.  Instead, it seems like one more lump of coal left by the outgoing administration.

Head to Town Hall at 6pm on Monday.  A Planning Board decision on this, could set the stage for an unusual and controversial vote at the December Commissioners meeting by the outgoing Board prior to swearing in the new one.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Commissioners misinformed during hotel vote

In the aftermath of last Tuesday's lame duck approval of the Griffith Street Hotel by the outgoing Davidson Board of Commissioners, there has been a considerable amount of swirl around town. Much of that regards confusion on the status of the Community School of Davidson at the location adjacent to the now approved hotel site.  This swirl can be linked to what can best be described as "misinformation" from the dais at Davidson Town Hall last week and before.

Here is just a sample of statements regarding this subject from recent meetings.

The Davidson Board met on October 24th for the last discussion on the Griffith Street Hotel before voting on it last Tuesday.  At the very end of the Hotel discussion at that meeting, comments turned to what could be done with the land where CSD's K-7 building currently sits.  Outgoing Commissioner Beth Cashion asked...

"What's the current zoning on the Elox...er, the CSD building?"

More than a decade ago the CSD building was the home of the former Elox Corporation.  Commissioner Cashion asking that question that way was a bit of a Freudian slip showing a disconnect from the facts that space is a school now, it has been for a decade, and has a lease on file for many years more.

That was followed soon after by outgoing Mayor John Woods asking this question to Planning Director, Jason Burdett.

"So, Jason..If that building were to be razed, um...and the school were to relocate, or not, what would be by right zoning there?"

That "hypothetical" about tearing down, or razing, the CSD K-7 building, sure sounds like planning for a post CSD scenario, doesn't it?

Then at the meeting last week before the vote, outgoing Commissioner Cashion again brought up CSD's status on the site as part of her statement before she voted for the hotel.

"The conversations around CSD - certainly supportive of CSD - reached out a couple of times to CSD to meet with them. I have spoken with the owner of the building and it’s a difficult position to be in making a decision about a long term opportunity when you have CSD as a school in an industrial site. I also understand they (CSD) are not the owners of that building, they are leasing that building and it’s an understanding, and a pretty clear understanding that CSD will not be there in that building in 10 years to come. CSD bought 40 acres out on Beaties Ford road and are starting to build their sports complex there so, I think we are tasked with a difficult decision."

Cashion's comments highlighted in bold are misleading on a couple of points.  aShortChronicle spoke to CSD Executive Director, Joy Warner, on Friday to see if these statements could be clarified.  Here is what Warner confirmed.

Yes, CSD leases the building.  However, the lease on file with the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds shows the current lease runs until January 1, 2027 and has a five year option to extend.  Meaning, CSD can remain on the site for 14 more years as renters.  Furthermore, CSD has in the lease an "irrevocable option" to buy the site between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019.  That means the school could be permanently located where it is today.

Additionally, Warner commented to aShortChronicle on the Huntersville property for a sports complex that CSD is in the process of raising money to purchase.  According to Warner, every time that property has been discussed with parents it has been made clear that the Huntersville site is not intended for relocation of either of the school's Davidson campuses.

In the face of this information from the school, how the Town got a "clear understanding" that the CSD K-7 school would not be in its current location in ten years is...well...very unclear.   However, that incorrect understanding and the incorrect idea that the Huntersville site means something more than just being a location for a sports complex, seems to have been one of the driving forces behind the Town's decision to approve the hotel.

For something this important, for something that impacts children, for something that impacts a school that brings many tangible benefits to the town, the Town government could have and certainly should have done a much more thorough job in its due dilligence prior to making its decision on the hotel.

Unfortunately for the town, that did not happen.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Citizens Invited to Jack Burney Award Ceremony

DAVIDSON, N.C. Citizens are invited to the G. Jackson Burney Community Service Award ceremony on Wednesday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Davidson Town Hall.

The ceremony and following reception will honor long-time Davidson resident Bill Giduz.

The award is named for G. Jackson Burney, who served the town in many capacities, primarily in planning and communications. Since 2004, it has honored Burney and those whose unselfish service benefits the Davidson community. Previous award winners include Bernice Houston, William B. Mayhew, Baxter and John Fisher, Evelyn Carr, Annie Mildred Lowery, Scotty Nichols, John and Paula Kelton, Jane B. Ellithorpe, Ralph Quackenbush, Leland Park, Jean Jackson, Sterling Martin, Pam Maier, Connie and Eddie Beach, Leamon Brice, and Garfield Carr.

The ceremony and reception honoring Bill Giduz will be held on Wednesday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Davidson Town Hall. The North Mecklenburg Moravian Band will play at 9:30 a.m. and Mayor John Woods will open the ceremony at 10:00 a.m. Light refreshments will be served afterward. We hope you will join us.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Register for Civics 101

DAVIDSON, NC -- Are you interested in learning more about the operations of our town government? Register for Civics 101. This free program is open to people who live or work in Davidson (within town limits and the extra-territorial jurisdiction) who are 18 and older. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss departmental functions and operations with town department heads, tour the fire and police departments, learn about town history, and take part in a personalized question-and-answer session with the mayor and board of commissioners. 


Our core values state that “open communication is essential to an engaged citizenry” and that the “social and intellectual well-being of Davidson citizens is fundamental to our community, so town government will provide…lifelong learning opportunities.” Our popular Civics 101 course reflects both of these values.

Classes will be held at town hall. They begin Thursday, February 8, 2018 and continue for ten consecutive weeks. Classes also include a Saturday bus tour and recognition at the April 10, 2018 Davidson Board of Commissioners’ meeting. Participants can sign up for the day session from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. or the evening session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Applications will be accepted from now until December 31 and are available atwww.townofdavidson.org/Civics101 and town hall.

Participants should not expect ten weeks of lectures -- classes will require participation in activities and discussion.  Acceptance into the program is on a first-come, first-served basis and only 25 participants will be able to participate in each session. Those selected must commit to attending all ten classes.

2017 Civics 101 graduate Nancy Vendley said: “After living in Davidson for 25 years, this program was very interesting and highlighted the complexities of our local government. The Town of Davidson elected officials and employees have a created an outstanding program that was fun too!"
To see a full schedule of this year’s classes, visitwww.townofdavidson.org/Civics101.

Friday, November 17, 2017

#DavidsonElection2017: Final election numbers show mandate for change

So, with today being election certification day, final numbers were posted by the State BOE.  Here they are.



According to the Meck BOE in the 2 Mecklenburg precincts 3831 ballots were cast, including 22 "undervotes" where there was no selection for mayor.  That is a Mayoral undervote percentage of 0.57% -less than one percent.  Compare that to the combined undervote and write-in of more than 27% in 2015 when Woods was the only candidate on the ballot.  When people have choices they vote.  When tjry don't they stay home or leave the race blank.

On the Commissioners side, as reported earlier, David Sitton maintained the 8 vote lead he had on election night to be the 5th Commissioner.  As for the undervote there, each of the 3831 ballots cast could have voted for up to 5 candidates yielding 19,155 possible votes.  According to MeckBOE 2843 votes were not cast yielding an undervote percentage of 14.8%.  That means the average voter cast 4.26 votes out of 5 possible votes.

The low undervote counts in both races are a testament to what competition and choices can do to voting patterns.  In the winner take all format of the Mayoral competition almost nobody left it blank or wrote in somebody.  In the plurality format for the Commissioners race casting 4.26 out of five votes is very solid.  When one considers the tight grouping of the top 6 candidates and the big falloff to the remaining candidates, it's clear most voters coalesced around the same candidates and cast all or almost all of their available votes to that group.

Another interesting thing to note is that Mayor Woods, Commissioner Graham, and Commissioner Anderson all received about the same number of votes.  It's risky reading too much into that, but it would seem to say that there were about 1000 voters who could be categorized as "status quo" voters who voted for the incumbents who lost.  If true, that would mean they were only a little over 1/4 of the over 3800 voters who went to the polls.

Taken all together it is hard to see these numbers as anything but a mandate for change in how Town Hall operates.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lame duck Davidson advisory board appointments are not binding

One of the items passed by Davidson's outgoing "lame duck" Board on Tuesday included appointing 21 people to Davidson's various advisory Boards including Planning, Design Review, Public Art, and Livability.

The tradition of the outgoing Board making these appointments has been going on as long as aShortChronicle has been covering Davidson Town Hall.  In most cases, there isn't really anything wrong with that since as the saying goes "the new boss is the same as the old boss" after most elections.  However, that certainly is not the case this year.

aShortChronicle has learned that these appointments are not binding on the incoming Board of Commissioners.  With that in mind, it is strongly recommended that the new Board consider rolling back these appointments until they have time to review.

This is not a statement against any specific appointee.  However, in the wake of the wave election just completed the new Board of Commissioners and Mayor deserve to have a say in how the advisory boards they will be dealing with are populated.  Not only is the 21 appointments a large number, there are multiple new seats that have been added to these bodies as well.  At a minimum, the new Board should take a look at the new seats.  However, looking at the entire list to make sure it gets new blood and new thinking into town government is also warranted.

What aShortChronicle has learned is that while appointing bodies can make appointments for terms starting in the future, those appointments are not binding if the appointing body is not in power when those future appointments start.  Check out this article from the UNC School of Government for the details.
In the case of the advisory board appointments made by Davidson's lame duck Board of Commissioners, none of the advisory board terms start until January 1st.  Davidson's current Board leaves office at the December meeting.  aShortChronicle checked with Professor Frayda Bluestein with the UNC-SOG who wrote the article linked above to confirm that understanding, and per her response these appointments do not appear to be binding.

While certainly, taking an action like rescinding these appointments would be uncomfortable, it would also provide the newly elected officials the opportunity to open up local government to more new thinking.

Davidson's new crop of elected officials needs to know they have the opportunity and the authority to do so.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Election ballot count update...no recount for Davidson expected!

aShortChronicle learned earlier today from a source who contacted the Mecklenburg BOE that after counting the remaining absentee and provisional ballots the race for Davidson's 5th place finisher in the Commissioner's race is unchanged.

According to the source who spoke with the BOE, both David Sitton and Shana Erber received 9 additional votes in Mecklenburg.  (No additional votes remained to be counted from the Davidson Pointe neighborhood in Iredell.)  That means Sitton maintains an 8 vote lead headed into Friday's election certification.

aShortChronicle contacted Erber to see if she planned to seek a recount which is her right as a candidate due to the closeness of the race.

Erber responded this evening saying that she would not.   Her exact words were...

"I wanted to let you know I do not plan to ask for a recount. I am happy to concede to David, who I think is going to be a great Commissioner."

aShortChronicle complimented Erber on her campaign pointing out that it is no small thing coming in ahead of two incumbents in the race.

Erber responded saying "I was proud of the effort and it was a positive experience that may lead to other opportunities to get involved. So, I was not disappointed by any of it."

A class act throughout the campaign, Erber is to be congratulated on how she handled herself in what was obviously not an easy first run for office in a crowded field with significant controversy and serious issues.

Erber's decision to not seek a recount means it is all but certain that David Sitton will be the 5th Commissioner for Davidson's Board when this election is certified on Friday.

aShortChronicle also contacted Sitton for this update but has not heard back from him yet.

Board thumbs nose at town on way out the door on Hotel


After a marathon meeting lasting over five hours, Davidson's Board voted 4-1 in favor of the controversial Griffith Street Hotel.

Only Commissioner Jim Fuller voted against the proposal.

One might think the shellacking of incumbents at the polls last week with only the more citizen friendly Jim Fuller winning re-election, the Board might have thought twice about pushing this controversial project ahead.  They didn't.

And let's be crystal clear about something.  Even though Commissioners Beth Cashion and Brian Jenest did not run again, there is really no reason to believe the outcome on election night would have been any different if they had.  Both of them have stood shoulder to shoulder with losing Commissioners Rodney Graham and Stacey Anderson on most or all of the bad decisions over the past few years.  With Graham and Anderson trailing well behind the top six vote getters, there is really no reason to believe Cashion and Jenest would have done any better.

No, the mindset that brought on election night was not tempered by its results.  Instead, the results only seem to have hardened it.

This vote on the way out the door is the only thing these four Commissioners will ever be remembered for by many in this town, and frankly, that is just about all they really deserve.


Commissioner
Stacey Anderson

Commissioner
Rodney Graham

Commissioner
Brian Jenest

Commissioner
Beth Cashion