Saturday, December 29, 2018

NCGA overrides veto of bill containing municipal charter school provision

aShortChronicle has been telling readers about the brinksmanship going on in Raleigh as CMS does whatever it can to stop municipal charter schools from opening and diluting its control over education in Mecklenburg County.  Keep in mind, none of the towns that have been granted permission for these schools have applied to open them, or that these municipal charter schools would alleviate future overcrowding since CMS does not plan to build more schools in North Meck for the next decade.  That hasn't stopped CMS and Governor Cooper from moving to thwart them even as a possibility.

As expected the swirl around this went down to the wire, but in the end, it wasn't really that close.  As one of its final acts before adjourning, the Republican supermajorities in Raleigh overrode Roy Cooper's veto of S469 on Thursday.  That's the catch all "technical corrections" bill that included a provision allowing employees of any future municipal charters to join State benefit programs.  CMS has vigorously opposed this bill due to it including this provision and Governor Roy Cooper cited this provision as one of the reasons he vetoed the bill.

On Thursday, the House voted 70-40 and the Senate voted 31-10 easily surpassing the 60% of votes cast needed for an override.  Outgoing NCGA members Rep John Bradford and Sen Jeff Tarte voted to override the veto in what were largely party line votes.  Three Democrats in the Senate also voted to override the Governor.

With Republicans losing their supermajorities in the next Legislature, votes like the one in the Senate could be more interesting.  Republicans will hold 29 seats in 2019, one short of what is needed to override a veto.  However, in a hypothetical situation where they peel off 3 Democrats, they could still override vetoes in that chamber with all members present.  On the House side it will be more difficult to do the same.  Republicans will hold 65 seats, but need 72 votes to override if all members are present.  Getting 7 Democrats to cross the line will be much more difficult.  However, overrides could still happen if more Democrats are not present for some reason allowing the 60% threshold to be met with less than 72 votes.  That is effectively what happened this time with Republicans only needing 70 votes to get 63% of the votes cast.

Mecklenburg County will likely be even more on the outside looking in during the 2019-2020 session than it has in the past.  With only one Republican (Sen Dan Bishop of South Charlotte) as part of the Mecklenburg delegation it is hard to see the county getting a lot of love from the new legislature if it means giving Democrats political wins.  How the county's new NCGA members navigate that environment will be interesting to watch.  Democrats Natasha Marcus of Davidson and Christy Clark of Huntersville are set to be sworn in next week as the area's new Senator and Representative as Tarte and Bradford leave office.

Friday, December 28, 2018

2019 will likely see accelerated population growth in Davidson

aShortChronicle told readers back in June that new neighborhoods coming online would accelerate Davidson's growth rate in coming years and a quick count of these seems to confirm that.

2017 data shows Davidson continuing to add people at the same rate as in previous years with 230+ coming to town between 2016 and 2017.  That rate may stay the same when 2018 data comes out halfway through next year, but residents can expect that to increase in 2019 if the current rate of buildout continues in the mega devopments of Davidson East and Westbranch.

In June, aShortChronicle posited that if these two developments built out over 3.5 years that would total 150+ new homes and 400+ people per year in these two developments alone.  After a drive through these new developments this week with roughly six months of home building completed, there are already nearly 150 homes either built or in various stages of construction.  That could possibly yield a much higher annual rate than used in the June estimates.  However, it could also just be prepping inventory for the coming Spring selling season.

Only time will tell on that.

What can be passed along now is that several of the current sales in Westbranch appear to be to an investment company.  That is per data in the Mecklenburg County Polaris system.  According to Polaris, in late November/early December no less than 8 homes were purchased by and entity named AMH NC PROPERTIES TWO L P with a mailing address in Agoura Hills, CA.  A Google search of the address says that is for the company American Homes for Rent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Davidson Lands Conservancy Protects Important Land (press release)

In a season characterized by goodwill, the Davidson Lands Conservancy (DLC) announces a generous gift of conserved land in Davidson, N.C., located near the Pines at Davidson, a retirement community, and proximate to the historic part of the Village. 
In addition to donating the conservation easement, the landowners also contributed all the transaction closing costs and created an endowment to ensure the land is stewarded and the conservation agreement defended, forever. While they wish to remain anonymous, they are happy for DLC to share this news, hoping to encourage similar gifts within and around Davidson. 
“We and our neighbors have long enjoyed the varied wildlife — birds, deer, foxes, box turtles, and even a marmot — supported by the undeveloped land. We want future generations to have that opportunity as well,” the donors said. 
“Working with the landowners to preserve this special property was pure joy,” said Dave Cable, DLC’s volunteer director of land conservation. “And it is profoundly moving to know that this conserved land will forever benefit the life of our town, particularly given the development pressures in Davidson.”
The project conserves about 10 acres of land that — although well suited for real estate development — will now remain forever natural. The public benefits of this project include permanent conservation of rapidly diminishing open space in the Village; natural habitats for wildlife, plants, and supportive ecosystems; and watershed and water quality. Additionally, while access to the property is limited, the conserved land is available for conservation, education, and research, including student and faculty projects associated with Davidson College.
DLC will monitor the land and work in partnership with the owners to ensure the conservation values are protected and, where possible, enhanced. The DLC also hopes to expand the conservation area and the project’s impact by working with interested neighboring property owners.
A conservation easement is a common legal tool that permanently conserves land. Each easement is unique to the protected property, tailored to the needs of the landowner and to the conservation values of the property. The landowner maintains ownership of the land and, by the easement, promises to keep the land in its natural condition. The easement is held by a land trust, in this case DLC, which promises to monitor and protect the conservation terms of the easement forever. Conservation easements are permanent and recorded in the land records.  
The Davidson Lands Conservancy, founded in 2000, is a nonprofit land trust that works with willing landowners to save land in the Davidson, North Carolina, area to preserve a healthy, natural environment for future generations. For more information about DLC’s mission or creating a conservation easement, visit or call 704-892-1910.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Applications Now Available for South Street Task Force: Deadline January 3rd (press release)

DAVIDSON, NC – On December 13, the Town of Davidson acquired the five acres of property located at 251 South Street. Are you interested in getting involved in shaping the future of the property? Here's your chance: The Town of Davidson is now accepting applications for appointments to the “South Street Task Force.” The application form is here.
The task force is charged with the following:

  • Sponsoring public engagement opportunities to solicit community input on ancillary uses for the available community space in the school building and recommend uses to the board of commissioners in March, 2019.
  • Reviewing and giving feedback on the town use of the school building.
  • Developing a master plan for the South Street site, with extensive public input.

Meeting schedule:
Phase 1: The task force will be on a tight deadline to provide a recommendation for community space in the school building to the Davidson Board of Commissioners in March. They will begin work in January, meeting approximately every other week, likely during early evening hours.
Phase 2: After a short break, the task force will reconvene in early summer to develop a public engagement process to master plan the site, and their meeting schedule will be determined at that stage.

For more information, please

After the January 3 application deadline, applications will be reviewed and members will be nominated by an internal committee consisting of elected officials and staff, and approved by the board of commissioners.

Dawn Blobaum, Assistant Town Manager, will serve as primary staff liaison for the task force. Please contact Dawn at 704-940-9615 or for more information regarding the task force’s work and schedule.

Community members are invited to learn about and provide input on our current public facilities proposal to master plan the property at 251 South Street for public facilities and other uses, and renovate our existing town hall for the police and fire departments on the following date:

•           Monday, December 17 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at two locations:
-Davidson Town Hall board room
-Hopewell Baptist Church fellowship hall (18841 Davidson-Concord Road)

At the open house (drop-in format), we’ll share:
•           Renovation plans for the school building at 251 South Street,
•           Previous plans to construct a new town hall in front of the existing town hall, and
•           Renovation plans for our existing town hall to house our police and fire departments.

Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with our elected officials and town staff to share feedback or fill out a comment card. If you are unable to attend the public input session on this date, please email your thoughts on the plans to renovate the former IB school for public facilities and other uses vs. building a new town hall in front of the existing town hall to

Why is the town considering this public facilities project?
As Davidson’s population has grown from 4,000 in 1990 to almost 13,000 today, we have outgrown our existing town hall. Ensuring adequate space for all departments, board of commissioners' meetings, and community meeting space is particularly critical. We need to invest in our public facilities in order to keep pace with our service needs. In mid-December, the Town of Davidson will purchase the property at 251 South Street, consisting of a school building, gymnasium, parking lot, fields, and green space. For more information, we encourage you to visit  If you have questions or comments, please email us at

Job opening with Davidson Village Network (press release)

Davidson Village Network (DVN) is pleased to announce a new, rewarding and innovative position; Part Time Director of Operations (DO).

The DO will serve as a primary ambassador of Davidson Village Network and should possess a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of senior adults with a special emphasis on addressing the issue of loneliness. The DO will support the execution of the strategic plan including membership growth and fulfillment, communications and sustainability and will engage in service delivery and key operational, organizational and administrative functions as defined by the DVN Board of Directors.

Selected Qualifications and Skills
- Self-motivated; ability to work independently and virtually with general guidelines
- Excellent communication skills
- Organizational and leadership skills
- Ability to prioritize and move projects to timely completion
- Digitally savvy (email, website, social media)
- Strong networking ability, especially with people, businesses, and other non-profit organizations that serve the same constituency and/or share common goals
- Passion for working with senior adults and deep interest in learning about aging issues

Work Environment
− Remote position averaging 20 hours/week
− Attendance at Board Meetings is required. Attendance at Committee Meetings and Monthly Member Activities as requested.

To Apply
Send an email with cover letter and resume. Please submit all items as a single attachment and send to

Cover letter should briefly address the following questions
• What is your interest and experience in working with senior adults?
• What is your leadership experience working with volunteers?
• If you were to identify one thing about this position that excites you, what would that be?

Application Deadline
Open until filled, preferably by end of January. Interviews to commence mid-January.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

CMS takes another swipe at towns and municipal charter schools

In the closing days of the year, CMS is reportedly encouraging Governor Cooper to veto a bill that would allow employees of possible future municipal charter schools to join state retirement plans.

Check out the below from this article in Thursday's Raleigh News&Observer.

Senate Bill 469, which makes technical corrections to several state laws, goes to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system is asking Cooper to veto the bill because it would allow teachers in any municipal charter schools opened by four Mecklenburg towns to join the state retirement and health systems. Former Rep. Charles Jeter, who’s now government relations coordinator for CMS, said the district is against the bill because it will make it much more likely for those municipal charter schools to open.

Senate Bill 469 passed on Thursday and includes numerous other changes besides this one which affects the towns in Mecklenburg County allowed to consider opening their own municipal charter schools.   It will be interesting to see what Cooper does here considering that we are at the end of the year and the end of the legislative term.

According to, which tracks differences in how states handle various issues, North Carolina could see this bill become law the following ways with or without Governor Cooper's signature.

The governor must sign or veto legislation within 10 days after transmittal, or it becomes law without his/her signature. If the legislature adjourns for more than 30 days, the governor must act within 30 days after adjournment, or the legislation becomes law without being signed. If the governor vetoes legislation after adjournment, he/she must reconvene the session or the legislation becomes law despite the veto on the 40th day after session adjournment.

It is unclear exactly how this might ultimately play out since new legislators are going to be sworn in starting January 1st after this past November's election and the new legislature would be able to sustain a veto. This bill also contains things Democrats outside Mecklenburg may like such as preventing state takeover of certain failing schools.  It sets up the scenario of the Republican controlled legislature forming bills that can peel off Democrats over local issues to cobble together the votes for veto overrides.  In this case that override would come at the expense of what Democrats in Mecklenburg County may want.  Since Charlotte-Mecklenburg is in the complete control of Democrats now at the city, county, and legislative levels, this is something people should expect to see over...and over...and over again in the coming Republican controlled legislative session.

What is clear is that CMS is willing to go to any length to stop municipal charters from opening - including preventing retirement and health benefits for any teachers who might choose to teach in one.


See the latest on this story from the Observer.  A game of Christmas Chicken is being played in Raleigh over municipal charters.

Monday, December 10, 2018

One year in, new Davidson Board showing how to lead

One year ago this week, Davidson swore in five new elected officials after a statement election that saw the previous elected regime at Davidson Town Hall soundly defeated.  This was the culmination of years of Town Hall initiated controversies and came after a particularly contentious year where the public, via the Save Davidson movement, became vigorously engaged in municipal affairs.

In the run-up to Election Day 2017, those defending the status quo questioned, mocked might be a better word, the qualifications of challengers who hadn't been indoctrinated in the ways of Davidson Town Hall, engaged in anonymous attacks including a smear of Save Davidson to the state BOE, and spread fear and speculation at the possibility of what might happen if wholesale change actually did come to fruition on the Davidson Board.

However, when the votes were finally counted none of those tactics mattered a bit.  New voters flocked to the polls and cast their ballots for the challengers and incumbent Commissioner Jim Fuller who had often voted against the status quo at Town Hall.  When the fog lifted, it was clear a new day was about to dawn.

So, how has the new Board performed in the past year?  The answer to that is told as much by what hasn't happened as much by what has.

The past year has seen a distinct lack of major Town Hall initiated controversies.  That's been a welcome relief for those weary of constantly having to fight the bad ideas of years past.  The most contentious issue, at least from the public's perspective, came early in the term when the Town considered putting a left turn on Main Street - impacting public parking regularly used by DCPC.  The  new Board handled that well by not ramming the project forward in the face of public input.

Speaking of public input, the past year has also not seen the instances of highly choreographed public input sessions with seemingly predetermined outcomes.  Those sessions had become the hallmark of Davidson Town Hall in recent years when the Town repeatedly tried to push through unpopular development proposals.  Certainly, some people may not fully agree with this one, but most would likely agree, Town Hall listens better than it has in the past.

Finally, the condescension and general blow-offishness that was often the response to any criticism, no matter how slight, by many on the previous Board has gratefully left the dais.

All the while, this new Board has been getting things done - proving the concerns of those defending the status quo of years past were unsubstantiated.

The Beaty Street Park is underway with the formation of a taskforce busy at planning.  The CMS property on South Street has been purchased for a reasonable price - laying the foundation for addressing future public facilities needs.  The Board has dealt with multiple planning related issues including the watershed ordinance, legal challenges on the Griffith Street Hotel and Potts Street projects, kick starting a new Comprehensive Plan, and a series of decisions that show a strong preference for historic preservation.  That's a very solid list for a group of new folks who supposedly did not have the necessary experience.

Is there more to do?  Of course!

The Continuum conundrum has received little attention.  Yes, David Auger, CEO of the enterprise, gave an upbeat presentation to the Board in November, but there still doesn't seem to be a viable long-term plan for extricating the Town from the business other than to keep paying down debt and hoping things don't blow up again.  When it comes to business decisions, hope is not a plan.

Also, many of the same players on Town Staff who were involved in previous controversies are still in their positions.  Until that changes, there will always be the chance for backsliding.  This kind of change is hard, and hoping voluntary attrition will provide it likely won't get there.  Again, hope is not a plan.

All in all though, not too shabby for a Board the old status quo thought was unqualified.  They've restored confidence in how Town Hall operates and done so very quickly.  That's no small accomplishment in year one, and the Town should look forward to what this group does in year two.