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 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, 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.


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.”