Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mi-Connection albatross is about to be lifted...towns receive $80 million offer

Friday afternoon saw some of the biggest news in recent years for Davidson as the Town  announced Mi-Connection (doing business as Continuum) had received an $80 million offer for the sale of the company.

Save Davidson broke the news on its blog and with a newsflash email.  Re-printed below with the group's permission.

NEWSFLASH: Continuum Cable Company (Formerly MI-Connection) Sale Moves a Step Closer to Reality Towns of Davidson and Mooresville set to enter a contract to sell Town-owned Continuum Cable Company. 

A buyer has been identified and the Towns of Davidson and Mooresville are set to enter into an agreement to sell the cable company owned through an interlocal agreement between the towns. According to the Town of Davidson, the contract price is $80 million. The sale is contingent upon citizen approval via referendum on the November 2019 ballot.

Details of the Deal
Commisisoners David Sitton and Matthew Fort were instrumental in the negotiation process. The pair have worked for more than 18 months with the larger team including Mayor Knox of Davidson, Mayor Atkins of Mooresville, legal teams, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) team, as well as Continuum representatives.

David Sitton brings business accumen to the project as CEO of a global logistics company he co-founded in 2002. Matthew Fort brings a host of corporate finance experience to this project. Together, they played a significant role in negotiations with the Town of Mooresville to agree to sell, the selection of RBC; a preeminent investment bank, and ultimately shaping the structure of the deal.

Background Information
In August 2007, The Davidson Town Board: Mayor, Randy Kincaid, Commissioners Cary Johnston, Bruce McMillan (absent), Evan Webster, Margo Williams, and John Woods voted to purchase the recently bankrupted Adelphia Cable Company despite strong citizen scrutiny and opposition. As concerned citizens suspected, the Town has incurred more than $1M annually to subsidize Continuum's debt service. For a town the size of Davidson, that debt represents nearly 10% of the Town's $12M budget and has hindered capital improvements, parks & recreation endeavors, staffing, and other important Town initiatives.

The Numbers 
In addition to the Continuum subsidy paid by taxpayers over the last 12 years, as of July 31, 2019 the total outstanding debt principal is $60.4 million. Davidson's share of the debt is 30% of the total amount. Davidson also owes a deferred liability of approximately $1.8 million to Mooresville.

Citizen Action Required on November 5
Moving forward, while a referendum was not required  to purchase the company, it's important that citizens are aware that a referendum is required to sell the asset. Town Manager, Jamie Justice indicates, "There will be a public hearing to consider approval of the sale of the Continuum Communications System. If we vote to approve the sale, eligible voters will have the opportunity to support or oppose the sale at a referendum election on November 5." It will be extremely important that citizens get to polls to vote in favor of selling this asset.

Save Davidson's View
Save Davidson is beyond ecstatic and proud that three of our top tier candidate endorsements from 2017 have worked to make this happen for the all citizens of Davidson. We strongly encourage citizens to vote to sell Continuum on November 5 . Save Davidson recommends the referendum be worded in clear and simple language so that citizens understand what is trying to be achieved.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Hotel lawsuit over? No appeal filed to NC Supreme Court on Griffith Street Hotel

Based on the best information available received here at aShortChronicle, the Griffith Street Hotel lawsuit appears to be over...at least as far as the possibility of legal action to overturn the Superior Court decision effectively preventing the proposed hotel being built as planned sandwiched between CSD and the Westside neighborhood, and across from Spinnaker Cove.

Earlier this week saw the last day pass where defendants could ask for discretionary NC Supreme Court review of the case after losing in the NC Cpurt of Appeals in a unanimous 3-0 decision.  See previous story on that here.  That NC Appeals Court decision entered on June 18th became final on July 8th.  Defendants had 30 days to ask for Supreme Court review and that date passed as of Wednesday of this week.  While certainly a relief for those concerned about this project, it would have been surprising if Defendants had appealed since the likelihood of the NC Supreme Court accepting the request was very, very slim.

Assuming nothing changes, this means the case is over in practical terms.

No hotel can be built without the proper zoning and that zoning does not exist at this time.  However, according to Davidson Town Hall, as of Wednesday afternoon the developer had not contacted the Town about formally withdrawing the project.  The sign for the project on the property has come down, but the project is still listed on the Town's website.  That's not an uncommon thing to happen, but with a controversial project such as this, aShortChronicle will be checking back regularly for any new information.

While no hotel can be built without a complete redo of the zoning process (and there is no indication at this time that is in the works), that does not mean the action on this controversy is completely over.

After winning the initial decision and prior to the Defendants filing an appeal, the Plaintiffs had previously filed a motion seeking attorney's fees for this action.  That was more than a year ago on July 11, 2018.  That motion was set aside pending the Appeals Court decision.  With a unanimous decision in the Plaintiff's favor, there is no reason to believe that a motion for attorney's fees will not go forward now.

Stay tuned.  This story is not completely over.

However, for a controversy that started more than three and a half years ago and cost citizens a significant amount of time and money, it does seem to be winding down.  You can read the whole history here at aShortChronicle.

Friday, July 26, 2019

New West Branch neighborhood near 50% of 305 unit total

The West Branch neighborhood by Lennar on Davidson's east side of town, has likely reached 50% of its planned 305 units.  That's per an informal count conducted by aShortChronicle which tallied more than 153 units either complete or in various phases of construction.  There were also a few "purchased" signs on lots not yet started.  Combined, that puts the neighborhood well on its way.

The neighborhood includes lots of spec homes built by the company, but judging by the number that are occupied, things must be selling pretty well.

When West Branch began home construction in the first quarter of 2018, 305 homes seemed like a lot.  A mere 16 months later, not so much.  At this rate it would not be surprising to see it near completion before the end of 2020.

There have already been impacts to the greenway. aShortChronicle has covered those stories earlier here and here.  Recently, there have also been more impacts where the connecting road up to Hudson Place will go though.   In the below pictures one can see the greenway alignment has changed to cross at grade with the connecting road.







Per the Town Planning Department, this realignment was always part of the master plan.

Within the past couple of weeks the project has also cleared the trees up to Hudson Place for the connecting road.



According to information provided by the Town the work to complete the connection road will take several more weeks of work going into September.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Entire Davidson Board files for re-election!

aShortChronicle has received word that the entire five Davidson Board members along with Mayor Rusty Knox filed for re-election at the Board of Elections on Monday around lunch time.


This answers at least one of the questions from this earlier post.  "Will there be any open seats?"  The answer to that one is now "No".

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Fuller will be seeking his 5th term on the Board.  Commissioners Matthew Fort, Jane Campbell, Autumn Michael, and David Sitton along with Mayor Rusty Knox all will be running for their 2nd terms. 

Congratulations to the current electeds on their decision to run again.

Challengers have until noon on Friday, 7/19, to file.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Filing for the next Davidson Election starts this Friday!

It is hard to believe, but it has been two years since the historic 2017 election here in Davidson.  That contest saw the rise of Save Davidson as a major force on the local scene, catching the old line power structures in town by surprise and resulting in major turnover among elected officials.

Former Commissioners Beth Cashion and Brian Jenest chose not to seek re-election and former Commissioners Stacey Anderson and Rodney Graham lost their bids to return to the dais.  Former Mayor John Woods lost in a three way competition for Mayor against former Commissioner Laurie Venzon and political newcomer Rusty Knox.

Taking their places in a landslide were Commissioners Matthew Fort, David Sitton, Autumn Rierson Michael, and Jane Campbell.  Mayor Rusty Knox cruised to a major victory in the Mayor's race, capturing nearly 57% of the vote.

Commissioner Jim Fuller is the only incumbent from the previous Board.

With only one incumbent, there was a perceived risk among some in the community that a lack of "experience" on the Board would be a detriment to the town.  However, nothing has been proven to be further from the truth.  In less than 2 years in office this Board composed of newcomers has:
  • Moved the Beaty Street Park forward
  • Purchased the old IB Middle School property for future town needs and preserved a piece of town history
  • Confronted policies former that encourage runaway development 
  • Moved the Mi-Connection "problem" towards resolution earlier than expected sith the company now up for sale.
These accomplishments and others are reflected in significantly improved Citizen Survey scores in areas like fairness and town direction.  See here for the details on that.

Two years is a short time in politics though, and filing for this year's municipal elections starts this Friday, July 5th, and runs for two weeks ending on July 19th.  See the Board of Elections site details.

Will the old guard make a run at retaking control of the Board?  Will there be any open seats with sitting Commissioners stepping down?  Will the electorate that turned out last time become complacent and sit this one out?  What will be the big issues that drive this election?

This are all questions that will start to be answered on Friday.  Stay tuned here at aShortChronicle for coverage on all of them over the next few months.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

New office building proposed for Exit 30

A new mixed use commercial building proposal has popped up on the Town Planning site for the Exit 30 area along Gateway Drive.

Regular readers will remember the post about a new hotel proposal from back in May.  This new office building will be near that site and adjacent to the Davidson Clinic building as pictured below.


Limited information is available and documents are noted as preliminary.  The Town website  says:

The property owner proposes an individual 3-story building with rooftop event space (4-stories total). Proposed uses include a restaurant and office space. Total building square footage is +/- 40,157 square feet. This site is subject to the 1998 Southeast Quadrant Master Plan.

Link to the project page here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Griffith Hotel ruling upheld by Appeals Court

After months of waiting the NC court of appeals posted it's opinion on the Griffith Street Hotel lawsuit Tuesday morning.

In a unanimous decision, the Court decided for the Plaintiffs that the rezoning allowing the Griffith Street Hotel was invalid!

"Because the pleadings show that the Town of Davidson failed to post notice of a public input session in conformity with its own planning ordinance, the trial court did not err in granting Plaintiffs judgment on the pleadings and declaring the rezoning void ab initio."

As reported previously, the Appeal was heard back in February by a three Judge panel including Judge Lucy Inman, Judge Allegra Collins, and Judge Chris Dillon.  Judge Collins wrote the opinion with Judge Inman concurring.  Judge Dillon wrote a separate concurrence that was even stronger than the main one. The main opinion upheld the ruling based on the signage not meeting the DPO requirements.  In the second opinion by Judge Dillon, he added that the order of the procedural steps with the Planning Board meeting being prior to the hearing was mandatory as well.

While this is certainly good news for the Plaintiffs fighting the hotel project, it is not quite over.  The Defendants could file a letter asking the NC Supreme Court to take up the case.  If the Court denies this request, or if a request doesn't happen, then the main part of the case would effectively be over.

To read the whole opinion, click here.  It is the first opinion under the "unpublished" opinion section of Tuesday's opinions.  According to the understanding here at aShortChronicle, the "unpublished" just means this opinion won't be part of the legal register of NC law.  That's likely because this decision did not break any new legal ground.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Lake Forest Church seeks rezoning for a permanent home in Davidson

On Tuesday, Davidson Commissioners (and citizens) will get a preliminary look at a proposal from Lake Forest Church to rezone a piece of South Main property for a new church facility.

From the agenda item...

"The applicant proposes a Conditional Planning Area Map Amendment for +/- 3.9 acres currently zoned Village Edge and Village Infill Planning Areas (Parcel IDs: 00324111, 00324107, & 00324170). The Davidson Planning Ordinance (DPO) allows the Conditional Planning Area as an option for developers/property owners to ask for exceptions from the ordinance in a manner that is mutually agreeable to the developer and the Town of Davidson. The purpose of tonight’s discussion is to determine if the Board of Commissioners would like to see this proposed conditional rezoning move through the formal Conditional Planning Area Map Amendment (i.e. rezoning) process."

So where are parcels 00324111, 00324107, & 00324170?  These are along South Main including the old Davidson Clinic site.

Lake Forest Church Davidson Proposal

Long-time readers will remember, this site has seen proposals before - including a 150 apartment unit high density proposal that came and went in 2017.  See story here about that.

From the documents provided with the current request from the church, the church is looking to assess the Board's appetite for exceptions to the following under conditional zoning.

  1. Religious Institution Separation Requirement (DPO 3.2.31): ̵  Condition to allow a religious institution to locate within ¼ mile of another religious institution (Davidson United Methodist Church)
  2. Religious Institution Use in Village Infill Planning Area: – Condition to allow the religious institution use in the Village Infill Planning Area
  3. Religious Institution Use in a Detached House: ̵ Condition to allow church offices to located in the existing detached home at 496 South Main Street
The proposal includes a 30,000 square foot church facility, a three story 25,000 commercial and office building fronting Main Street, and re-use of the house onnthe property for church offices.  140 parking spaces will be included.

This proposal is at least the second site Lake Forest has saught for its permanent home in Davidson.  The church currently meets at Davidson elementary. The first attempt was an inquiry about a portion of the Beaty Street Property which ultimately kicked off the flawed Beaty Street RFP leading to the swirl of 2017 and the formation of Save Davidson.  Ironically, if the former Board had taken the church up on its original request, rather than using it to force the flawed Beaty Street RFP, those elected officials would likely still be in office.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Development approvals on Tuesday's Davidson Board agenda...in the wrong place

Davidson's Board agenda for Tuesday, the day after a holiday weekend, includes a lengthy number of items in the "consent agenda" portion of the evening.

Per the UNC School of Government, "a consent agenda is used for board approval of matters that do not require individual consideration or discussion. Matters are listed and voted on as a group, and the single vote constitutes legal action on each matter." 

The website www.boardeffect.com describes items typically appropriate for consent agendas this way. (Emphasis added.)

The types of items that appear on a consent agenda are non-controversial items or routine items that are discussed at every meeting. They can also be items that have been previously discussed at length where there is group consensus. The following items are typically found on a consent agenda: 

  • The meeting minutes
  • The financials
  • CEO report
  • Program or committee reports
  • Staff appointments
  • Volunteer appointments
  • Committee appointments
  • Correspondence that requires no action
  • Perfunctory items-formal approval of items that had much past discussion

On the Davidson agenda document itself it actually defines the consent section as follows

"CONSENT - Consent items are non-controversial and routine items. Prior to the board's adoption of the meeting agenda the request of any member to have an item moved from the consent agenda to old business must be honored by the board. All items on the consent agenda must be voted on and adopted by a single motion."

By the above definitions it was a surprise to many in town who regularly pay attention to these things, to see two critical votes for two new development projects tucked away under consent.  These were for two new development projects requiring Board approval for water-sewer extensions under the recently clarified policy.

One extension is for a roughly 81 unit townhouse project on the old Hoke Lumber site between Jetton Street and Catawba Avenue.  The other is for an extension to support 15 single family homes off of Kistler Farm Rd on the east side of town.

Considering the effort the Board took just last year to clarify the policy for how these extensions are approved, it is hard to see any such extension vote would be considered appropriate for a consent agenda.  It is particularly hard to see this for the Hoke Lumber site which is near the Potts Development currently in the court system over just such an extension vote.  In that case the Board did not approve, sparking a litigious response from the developer.  Almost by definition the proximity makes the Hoke site controversial for a project of this density.

More importantly, there is the issue of trust.  Slipping these kinds if things into consent agendas is damaging to the public trust.  It just shouldn't happen.  Even if there is no ill intent, it looks bad.

The Board has the opportunity to correct this on Tuesday by pulling these from the consent agenda and addressing them separately, and aShortChronicle guesses that will likely be the first order of business. 



It is time to end the Mi-Connection Tax

The last Board meeting on May 14th saw a spirited discussion among Commissioners about the possibility of addressing what has become a long-standing sore point in the Town budget - the exorbitant solid waste fees charged in Davidson - fees that were implemented in the early days of the Mi-Connection debacle to free up money to pay subsidies needed to keep an ill thought out idea afloat.

Those fees have become known to many as the "Mi-Connection Tax".

Commissioner Jane Campbell raised the subject of these fees as the Board began discussing the proposed budget presented by Staff.  Commissioner Matthew Fort then suggested an overall budget approach of first achieving a revenue neutral tax rate of 28.1c versus the 29c proposed by staff, and then adding roughly 4c to the rate to cover solid waste while eliminating the solid waste fee itself.

Technically, this approach doesn't eliminate the "Mi-Connection tax" because it brings in the same overall dollars to the Town.  Only eliminating the fee and keeping the tax rate at revenue neutral would get rid of the "tax" entirely.  However, getting rid of the fee does return the Town to a less regressive tax setup similar to what it had before Mi-Connection came along.

aShortChronicle has long followed these solid waste fees and the ill feelings they've generated and has endorsed getting rid of them.  See the below stories for that history.


Seeing the idea of removing this fee being given serious consideration is refreshing.  However, it remains unclear how much support there is among Board members for doing it now other than Commissioner Fort. 

There was talk of making this year the last year before addressing next year.  There was also concern about impact to the 50 some odd lower income/elderly households currently exempt from the fee who would pay a something if this was added to the property tax rate.  There was also concern raised that commercial properties would be impacted more significantly by this approach since they would be paying higher rates on top of much higher average valuation increases from the latest reveal, and they already pay for their own solid waste separate from the Town service.

The argument for doing it now espoused by Commissioner Fort was that rates are already changing this year anyway due to the revaluation and packaging this change into that will reduce the number of future changes needed to the tax rate.  Those future changes include the potential relief from the sale of Mi-Connection and the likely need to adjust for paying any bonds issued for mobility and public facilities projects.

Mayor Knox, while pointing out the tax value increases facing commercial properties, also gave the reason, maybe unintentionally, why this probably should not be a deciding factor.  Mayor Knox, whose family owns multiple Main Street properties, mentioned that rents will likely need to be raised to cover the increase in taxes.  This highlights the fact that commercial property owners have more options in dealing with taxes than most individual homeowners.  While obviously nobody likes tax increases, commercial properties can pass along these costs to be disbursed across the business operations.  Homeowners don't have that option.

Finally, the concern was also raised about the relatively small number of people currently exempt from the solid waste fee who would actually pay something if this was transferred to the property tax rate.  The numbers, 50 homeowners totalling a $3,000 impact were mentioned.  Finding a way to address this would need to be part of any solution, but with such small numbers citizens should expect staff to be able to figure something out.

Here at aShortChronicle, the sincere hope is that this Board finds a way to make this change happen.  Previous Boards haven't been able to do that.  However, if this gets done it would be another significant accomplishment for this Board's first term in office together.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Davidson Police Department Execute Search Warrant for Narcotics Investigation (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – On Thursday, May 23, 2019, officers and investigators with the Davidson Police Department executed a search warrant at 314-B Delburg Street, Davidson related to a narcotics investigation.  Three of the adults present at the residence received citations for drug offenses and were released from the scene along with one minor child.  One subject, a 31-year-old African-American, male, and resident at the address, was arrested on scene.

Investigators are seeking the following felony charges on the arrested suspect:
•  Trafficking in LSD
•  Felony possession LSD
•  Trafficking in Cocaine
•  Felony possession of cocaine
•  Felony possession of methamphetamine
•  Possession With Intent to Sell or Deliver – mushrooms (Psilocybin)
• Felony possession- mushrooms (Psilocybin)
• Maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of storing controlled substances

Over $3000 in US currency was seized from the property. This is still an active, ongoing drug investigation and the arrested suspect’s name will be released when pending charges are finalized with the Mecklenburg County Magistrate.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

New Exit 30 hotel proposal before Board of Adjustment on Monday

As speculated previously, the public hearing signs on the corner of Peninsula/Gateway Drives are for a new hotel project. Per the Town Planning department, the documentation was put up last week.  However, it was put up under the Board of Adjustment page rather than the Development Projects page because the project is seeking a variance for parking.

The documentation can be found here after scrolling to the bottom of the page.  


The highlights of the project are as follows:
  • A six story, 135 room hotel by Wyndham
  • A pair of 2 story 5500 sqft offices buildings similar to the live-work buildings in the area along Gateway Dr.
The developer is seeking a parking variance to reduce parking to 119 parking spots, versus the 217 Davidson's ordinance would require.  This is similar to the variance granted the controversial Griffith Street Hotel.  However, there are some factors to this Wyndham proposal that should make this aspect less of an issue.
  • The street parking included in the Wyndham proposal is slightly less than the Griffith proposal with significantly more being on-site.  The street parking used is also more available because there aren't existing uses in that area that already consume street parking like there is with CSD next to the Griffith site.  Also, the street parking for the Wyndham proposal is accessible.  The Griffith site includes several new spots along Griffith Street itself that will be all but useless for hotel guests.
  • Any "shared" parking at the Wyndham site made available to the hotel per Davidson's ordinance will come from the two new office buildings being built as part of the same overall project.  This makes a lot more sense in the Wyndham location.  Plus, any tenants of these office buildings would know going into a lease or purchase that a hotel would be next door. That's far different than the situation with the Griffith Street Hotel where Woodies had this sprung on them by the Town changing the plan and approving a hotel as conditional on that site with the hotel suddenly including half of Woodies parking in its own plan.
  • The location of the parking is also better relative to the neighboring properties.  The Wyndham proposal doesn't put a hotel and it's parking lot right in several residents' back yards like the Griffith Street proposal.  For that matter the front of the Griffith project also looks into back yards in Spinnaker Cove.
Will everyone be happy with this proposal?  Maybe not, but overall it seems to be a better plan in a better location - a plan much more worthy of approval than what the Town has approved previously on Griffith Street.

The Board of Adjustment hearing is this coming Monday, May 20th, after the regular Planning Board meeting which starts at 6pm in the Board Room at Davidson Town Hall.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Exit 30 hotel property in play?


While driving through the Circles@30 area on Saturday, aShortChronicle noticed the below "Public Hearing" sign, actually there are two of them, at the corner of Davidson Gateway/Peninsula Drive.


The signs caught the attention of yours truly like they always do - mostly because they mean some new development project is in the works.  These signs however, are particularly interesting because of the specific location.


According to County property records, the 3+ acre parcel is still owned by Spectrum Hospitality, a hotel development company with hotels in Wilkesboro, Mooresville, and North Myrtle Beach.  During the long-running controversial Griffith Street Hotel saga, there has been speculation if another hotel vendor entered the market, particularly Spectrum since they owned this particular property, it would possibly change the calculus for pursuing the Griffith Street project.  Many in town believe a site closer to the interstate is better than one sandwiched next to a K-7 school and residential neighbors.

aShortChronicle has inquired with the Town regarding these signs since nothing is on the Town website detailing a new project.  However, if this project is another hotel, that hypothesis may be put to the test.  Check back next week for updates.

Davidson budget proposal only slightly above revenue neutral

Davidson's Board will be presented the staff proposed budget on Tuesday, and according to the agenda item documents it will include a property tax rate slightly above "revenue neutral".

aShortChronicle has previously told readers about the potential for this and what revenue neutral really means to taxpayers.  See here for that previous coverage.  The proposed rate will be 29 cents per $100 in property valuation as opposed to the now official neutral rate of 28.1 cents.  "Neutral" in this case means all things being equal, the Town would bring in the same property tax dollars next year under the new property tax valuations as it did this year under the old valuations.

However, all things aren't equal in this case, so what does this new rate really mean?

Each cent on the tax rate under the new valuations is worth about $261,000 in tax revenue.  At 0.9c above revenue neutral, the Town will bring in $235k more than it would under the neutral rate.  However, that's not the whole story.  Because the neutral rate includes a growth factor and because the town is growing by adding new homes, even under the neutral rate the Town would bring in $319k more in property tax dollars than it did in FY2019.  So, going with the rate above revenue neutral brings in even more revenue than a neutral rate that would have already brought in more revenue.

On top of that, other revenue streams to the Town are growing such as sales taxes, utility franchise taxes, interest revenue and use of the fund balance.  All in all, the Town would have been looking at nearly $500,000 in higher total revenues without resorting to property tax increases above the revenue neutral rate.  That would have allowed for a roughly 4% increase in spending versus the roughly 6% increase in the proposed budget.  Either one would be considered a more than healthy boost to spending, and other than listing new items that weren't included which would have driven spending even higher, there's not a whole lot in the budget docs that shows major efforts at cost cutting.

Now, in fairness this all comes out to not all that much money when looked at on a per household basis, and the Town definitely points that out.  On Page 9 of the presentation document, it shows the  tax impact for a $400,000 house equals $36/year over what the revenue neutral tax would have been.

Would most people prefer to have that $36 for a trip to the Soda Shop, or a couple trips to Whit's or Ben & Jerry's on Main street?  Sure.  However, with this Board still saddled with dealing with a Mi-Connection subsidy of $1 million per year that eats up nearly 8% of the overall budget while also staring at the a big potential pile of money from the revaluation, having a slight increase is not stomach churning or surprising.  The Town is also seeking to offload Mi-Connection, so hopefully there is a real light at the end of that tunnel.  The job market is also as tight as It has ever been, so compensation should adjust.

Here at aShortChronicle the take on this year's budget is it certainly could have been much worse, and likely would have been much worse under the previous Board with the spending plans that group of elected officials had on their agenda.

From that point of view, this year's spending plan can be considered a win by comparison - even with a slight tax increase.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Get your "community" on with two Westside food events this weekend

There will be two great events on Saturday, April 27th where you can get lunch and dinner while helping to build community here in Davidson.  If you haven't been to events like these, then you really aren't taking advantage of one of the things you can really only do in a small town.  They are the kinds of things that give you the real feel of a place.

For lunch head to Reeves Temple AME Zion Church at 213 Watson Street for a lunchtime/afternoon fish fry to support fundraising efforts to be used in restoring the historic Lingle Hut.  Details below.  You can read more about this effort here.  This effort has already raised an impressive $25,000 but still needs $8,000 more to break ground.  Help save a little Davidson history while getting lunch.


For dinner, head to Roosevelt Wilson Park at 6pm for the 2nd annual town community dinner.  This is a nice community event started under the current Board to bring the community together.  From the Town press release.

The Town of Davidson is pleased to announce our “Davidson Community Dinner – Breaking Bread, Building Friendships” event on Saturday, April 27 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Roosevelt Wilson Park, 420 Griffith Street. All members of our community are encouraged to attend.

The Town of Davidson will provide the following:
  • Main Dish
  • Water
  • Tea
  • Paper goods
And attendees are encouraged to bring a side dish or dessert to share (including a serving utensil). This dinner is picnic style, please bring your chairs and blankets. We encourage you to meet and greet old and new friends.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Potts Development...development... Public Hearing and Planning Board Review move forward

A few weeks ago, the Potts Development lawsuit had its first day in court. It's now apparent the initial results of that action will result in the project process moving forward - sort of....

An eagle eyed resident passed on information to aShortChronicle Tuesday morning that the project signage had changed on Potts Street.  See below.


The Town project page was also updated.  See here for that.

After following up with the Town, Town Clerk Betsy Shores provided the following statement that was to be read at tonight's Town Board meeting.

Crescent Acquisitions, LLC, the developer of the proposed Potts Development project, filed a lawsuit against the Town regarding the permit for the project.  As the Town argued to the Court, it does not believe that the circumstances warrant the continuation of the permitting process.  However, the Court has ordered planning staff to complete the review and issue a decision on the permit. 

Therefore, as required by the Court, there will be a public input session set for May 2, 2019 from 5-7pm at town hall.  This is an opportunity for citizens to express their opinions directly to the developer regarding this project.  This project will also be on the planning board’s agenda for the April 29 meeting for review and comment.

The Town will update the citizens, to the extent possible, as the permitting process and the lawsuit move forward.

So, what does this actually mean?

According to the preliminary understanding here, this only means the project approval process will move forward a little.  It does not mean the project is approved.  In fact it does not appear to address the most important piece of this case which is the Town's ability to manage its water/sewer extension approvals.  As of this writing aShortChronicle has not been able to obtain the actual court documents to say definitively on all points

It does however absolutely mean this....

Citizens need to get ready to head to Town Hall in force on April 29th and May 2nd.

This is the classic David v Goliath scenario.  A large corporation, one of the largest in the local development business, is attempting to force through a project nobody wants in a location where it does not fit.  That's a common situation these days here in Davidson.  But...as the Beaty Street Property and Griffith Street Hotel projects show, the citizens of Davidson know how to fight these fights.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Will Town of Davidson let Cornelius design southern entrance to our town?

Tuesday's Town of Davidson Board agenda is pretty light, but the one significant item on it could have long-term impacts to what one sees when entering Davidson on NC 115 from Cornelius.

As long-time readers are likely aware, the I77 toll project came along with some money municipalities are using for various smaller projects.  In Davidson, that "bonus allocation" is paying for the new roundabouts at the I77 overpass as well as part of the Potts/Sloan/Beaty connector project.  Here is an earlier story on that.  Bonus money is also paying for the intersection work being planned for the NC115/Potts intersection on the Cornelius side of the municipal boundary heading into Davidson.

As part of U-5873 Cornelius and NCDOT have been planning a roundabout for this intersection.  It's a big roundabout at that, larger than the ones at Circles@30 in Davidson.  As part of the planned project the roadway will be realigned as well to allow for a 10' multi-use path (aka "Big Fat Sidewalk") under the railroad trestle.  This realignment is where things get ugly.

Neighbors impacted by this approach have been quietly pushing the Town of Davidson to forcefully ask that any plan seek to minimize the impact to properties on the Davidson side of the municipal boundary.  That's what the resolution on the agenda as the sole major item of business for Tuesday's Board meeting is all about.  However, while this resolution does ask for some items that could marginally mitigate the impact, it doesn't ask for a plan that eliminates the biggest problem.  That would be the road realignment.  Per John Burgess, one of the homeowners most impacted by the proposed plan, that's the only thing that can truly make a difference.

Per an email from Burgess:

"This resolution is very disappointing and is actually my worst fear.  The plan and resolution show them narrowing the impact to the properties by 5', lessening the encroachment from 50' to 45'.  All the trees and significant features are gone. Item 1 of the resolution asks for the design to be modified to minimize impact, but the minimum impact is to have no realignment of the road. The resolution and accompanying map do nothing to modify the road alignment, and in fact, the drawing conceals the road realignment."

To Burgess's points, take a look at the below pictures.  The first two are from a February presentation to Davidson.  Doesn't look too bad, does it?  Though it is kind of hard to tell in just conceptualized drawings.



Now, take a look at these pictures supplied by Mr Burgess to see just some of the actual impact.




Quite a difference picturing all those trees gone, isn't it?  If this project goes through with the road realignment in place it will forever change the picturesque nature of this entrance to Davidson.  If you were appalled by the tree carnage at Exit 30 to accommodate the roundabouts there, this could arguably be worse.  Ironically, both are being paid for with I77 toll lane project money.

Now take a look at the picture of the project after the proposed changes in the resolution as it stands as of this writing.


The proposed changes keep the road realignment.  They just move the impact a few feet.  The resolution does ask for the stone wall to be rebuilt and for the Town sign to be moved, but that's little comfort for what will still likely be lost.

And why is this being done?  Why is private property being infringed?  Why are more trees being cut down? Why is this entrance to town being changed this way?

In a March email to elected officials and others Cornelius Planning Director, Wayne Herron, wrote the following to justify the plan that requires a road realignment:

"First, was the improved safety and access for patrons to the YMCA, which include residents of both Cornelius and Davidson. The roundabout will accommodate the additional traffic from the Potts-Beatty-Sloan Connector and was shown to be the safest and most efficient option for now and into the future."

Really?  Access to the YMCA?!?!  Access to the Y could be greatly improved by simply opening up Church Street as a second entrance into the other side of the Y property.  It's a simple solution that's been available for years. Why didn't Cornelius propose that as part of a plan that could have possibly had a smaller roundabout?  While simple, that solution is also a hot potato political topic in Corelius that nobody wants to deal with.  That's why.

In the March email, Herron goes on to say (emphasis added)...

"Second, the Town of Davidson has a downtown to be proud of. It is an attraction for Cornelius residents to enjoy with excellent dining, activities and all around beauty. Our citizens have expressed the desire to be able to walk and bicycle to downtown Davidson along NC115 and allowing for bike/ped traffic in both directions between both Towns. So, our citizen stakeholder committee has recommended 10’ multi-use paths along NC 115 up to the Cornelius Town limits. Our citizens prefer the 10’ multi use path for safety in order to allow both pedestrians and bicycles to safely coexist and move about from point to point. NCDOT did explain early in the project planning, that it would necessitate a realignment of NC 115 on the Cornelius side in order to achieve this additional cross section under the train trestle to accommodate the 10’ multi-use path. Our citizens are excited about the opportunity to connect our Towns and overjoyed about the potential to get to downtown Davidson by way of NC 115, safely under the trestle."

All those things are true about Davidson and very neighborly to say, but does anyone really believe large numbers of Cornelius residents will actually be biking down 115 on this 10' sidewalk for dinner at Kindred?  Will they suddenly be walking in throngs to get a custard at Whit's?  Maybe they'll be towing little red wagons to the Davidson Farmers Market on Saturdays?

No, of course those things won't happen.  Statements like that don't pass the smell test.  They don't meet the test of common sense.

So, while it may be neighborly for Cornelius to think highly of Davidson's downtown, it is not all that neighborly to push a plan that irreparably harms the look and feel of the entrance to that very same downtown.

As the highlighted portions above clearly show, Cornelius is looking out for the interests of its residents.  It's time for Davidson's Board to do the same and pass a resolution on Tuesday that does more than just nibble around the edges of the problem.  Davidson Commissioners need to pass a resolution on Tuesday that clearly asks NCDOT find a solution that doesn't involve realigning the road and messing with the look and feel of this entrance to our town.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Davidson Town Hall homing in on revenue neutral tax rate. How will it affect your tax bill?

Back in early March, aShortChronicle told readers about the revaluation sticker shock that was to be presented to Davidson Town Hall.  In that post, by our calculations the projected "revenue neutral" tax rate would be somewhere between 27.25 - 28.0 cents per 1000 in valuation.  At the time, an official number from Town Hall wasn't available.  As promised, a follow-up was sent to staff on that question.

Per Piet Swart, Town Finance Director, the current number is 27.5c based on a "2% appeal adjustment by Mecklenburg County".   However, when the final appeal adjustment comes in, it is expected to be closer to 4%.  That means the ultimate RNTR will likely be at or barely above 28c.

Davidson currently has the highest tax rate among the North Mecklenburg towns coming in at 35c.  If the Board does the right thing this budget cycle and adopts a revenue neutral tax rate, the rate would drop a full 7 cents - possibly reducing the tax gap between Davidson and the town's neighbors.  Make no mistake though, if Davidson does not lower the rate to 28c, that is a de facto tax increase, meaning tax bills in general will be going up.

There of course will be arguments for doing just that.  Here are a few citizens are likely to hear.

  • The recent citizen survey asked about spending money on public facilities such as sidewalks, parks and greenways.  In 2017 citizens approved bonds for such things.  However, bonds aren't free money and will require tax dollars to make bond payments.  The Citizen Survey though shows 65% wanting no more than 2c of a tax increase to pay for these things.
  • The ever present topic of affordable housing will also no doubt receive more discussion.  While there were segments of town that approved of significantly raising taxes for this, overall there is actually very limited support for Affordable Housing when it comes to spending money on it.  Fully, 69% want no tax increase and only 31% are willing to fund affordable housing with a 1c increase.
  • Davidson also recently acquired the old IB Middle School property on South Street for a new Town Hall.  Renovations for police and fire services are also planned for the current Main Street site.  Both will cost millions and there is likely to be a bond question on the ballot this November to pay for it.  Don't be surprised to hear arguments of raising taxes now assuming the bond passes.
In addition to the above big ticket items, there will also be numerous smaller ideas thrown out by staff and electeds to spend more money.  There always are.

So while there may be a limited appetite among residents to pay for some new items, there should be no mistake in assuming that appetite us very big at all.


Budget decisions must be made by the end of June.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

National Citizen Survey results show improved confidence in Davidson Town Hall

Davidson residents recently completed the National Citizen Survey (NCS), and on Tuesday night at Davidson Town Hall board members will get a presentation on the results.

The NCS asks dozens of canned questions measuring satisfaction with Town services and measures the overall quality of life in town.  As such, Davidson regularly scores very high across the various categories.  The presentation on Tuesday is a summary and doesn't include the detailed responses.  aShortChronicle has been told by Town Hall the detail shpuld be available soon.  However, the summary does provide some interesting data points particularly when compared to the last NCS completed in early 2017 - before the wholesale turnover of elected officials that occurred later that year after widespread displeasure with numerous Town decisions.

Take a look at this list of categories that were in decline just 2 short years ago.

 
From 2017 NCS

From 2017 NCS
Now compare this to the areas that improved in this year's survey.

From 2019 NCS

From 2019 NCS
The turnaround in things such as fairness, honesty, accepting citizen involvement, and town direction is a testament to the job the current Board is doing.  Achieving that result after just over one year in office makes the achievement even more striking.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Public Input Requested for North-South Parkway Area Study (Press Release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – April 4, 2019 – North Mecklenburg and southern Iredell County are experiencing significant population growth. This trend is expected to continue through 2040. The transportation network, particularly North-South connectivity is inadequate for current conditions. In 2010, the Urban Land Institute completed a study that identified the need for north-south connectivity and recommended a new route which was titled the North-South Parkway.

This title implied the idea that the North-South Parkway would stretch from Mooresville to Charlotte. Analysis and public engagement confirmed existing development and environmental impediments restrict such a facility in the area. There is not one parkway that can complement NC 115 but rather a series of connections using existing and proposed thoroughfares that attempt to satisfy the North-South transportation demand for the local jurisdictions in the study area.

Local jurisdictions, including Huntersville, Davidson, Mooresville, Cornelius and Iredell County staff, along with consultants Gresham Smith, have prepared three alternatives for north-south connectivity based on feedback from a first series of open house events held in September and October 2018, as well as over 400 comments received through an interactive online survey. 

A second public open house is scheduled for Thursday, April 11th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. The event will be held at the River Run Country Club Ballroom located at 19125 River Falls Drive, Davidson, NC 28036. Residents are encouraged to drop-in anytime between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm to view proposed scenarios for improved connectivity in the area, give feedback on those scenarios, talk with staff, and network with friends and neighbors.

The open house will gather input about the three alternative alignment scenarios that identify opportunities for improved connectivity, bicycle, pedestrian and safety enhancements that are being considered for the study area. Input from residents will be critical in helping guide the priorities and plan for future connectivity in the area.

For more information, visit: www.northsouthparkway.org

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Marathon meeting likely on Tuesday at Davidson Town Hall

The Davidson Board meeting Tuesday has a packed agenda that will likely run late into the evening and run the gamut of local government subjects

Hot topics to be covered include:

  • Property revaluation impacts.  See previous story here.
  • Beaty Street Park recommendation
  • Development project updates
  • Road project resolutions for NCDOT
  • Tree ordinance and historic preservation discussions
  • Spring retreat prep

See full agenda here.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Davidson Board set to hear BIG property valuation update on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Davidson's Board will hear an update on the recently completed Mecklenburg County property revaluation, and the numbers are BIG.  According to the Town presentation attached to the agenda item, the town's overall tax base increased 31.1%.

If the tax rate rate were to stay the unchanged at 35 cents per $100 in value, that would translate directly into at least a 31.1% aggregate increase in tax bills.  The good news is that while we know certain staff like to entertain the idea of "value capture" as a way to increase tax collections by not lowering the tax rate to what's called revenue neutral, an average tax bill increase of this size from Davidson is unlikely.  Instead, the Town likely will lower the rate somewhat resulting in bills that will be smaller than they would if the rate was left unchanged.  The goal for taxpayers should be to push the Board to adopt what is called the "revenue neutral tax rate" or RNTR

So, what is the RNTR and how is it calculated?  The answer to that is much more complicated than you might think.  To get into the gory details check put this post from the UNC School of Government, but here is the gist of it.

"When the tax base changes, a local government would experience a change in revenue if its tax rate were to remain unchanged for the new fiscal year.  The RNTR is intended to show the tax rate that would keep the local government’s revenue neutral given its new tax base. Well, not exactly neutral: the statutory calculation increases the current year’s revenue by the average annual growth rate experienced by the local government’s tax base since the last reappraisal."

So what would the RNTR be for Davidson?

aShortChronicle asked that question of the Town in early February but was told it wasn't available yet.  Per former Public information Officer, Christina Shaul, "the Davidson Board of Commissioners have their budget/finance retreat from March 14-15, so I’d recommend getting in touch with Jamie Justice the week of March 18 to get the latest information on their thinking related to the revenue neutral and other tax rates."

aShortChronicle fully intends to follow-up on that question, but in advance of that, a quick analysis was done looking at the calculation spreadsheet supplied by the NC Treasurers office for municipalities to use.  You can see the spreadsheet here.  The spreadsheet requires one piece data, average growth rate, that will need to be calculated by the Town, but assuming that rate falls between 2-5 percent, Davidson's revenue neutral rate would be somewhere between 27.25 cents and 28 cents.  Incidentally, Davidson's population has been growing at about 2% per year in recent years, so hopefully the rate is on the lower end of this range.

Unfortunately though, things aren't that simple when it comes to actual individual tax bills, and some people, maybe a lot of people, will still see significant tax bill increases even if the Town has the financial discipline to implement a revenue neutral rate.  That's because not all properties change at the same rate, not even close.

Take a look at the below heat map from the Mecklenburg tax assessor's presentation showing how much properties increased across town.


What you will notice is that property west of Kimberly off of Davidson-Concord Rd increased at higher rates than property east of Kimberly.  In fact properties in Old Davidson and most areas West of Main Street saw significantly higher valuation increases.  Because of these significantly higher increases compared to the aggregate increase across town, these properties will have significantly higher tax bills even under a revenue neutral tax rate.  Effectively, this shifts some of the overall tax burden from East Davidson to Central and West Davidson - regardless of where the tax rate is set.

In coming months as the Board discusses what to do when setting rates for the next budget cycle, keep an eye on this.  Since almost all of Davidson's naturally occurring affordable housing exists on the West Side of Town, the Town will likely try to see how it can mitigate the impact of tax changes and tax payers need to ensure it is done fairly.

NOTE:  The above only covers the Davidson portion of the overall tax bill.  The bigger portion is from Mecklenburg County whose Board will almost certainly be nowhere near revenue neutral - ensuring the pain from the tax man this year is fealt by pretty much everyone.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Continuum FY2019 Q2 results.(press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – On Thursday, January 24, 2019, the Continuum (formerly MI-Connection) Board of Directors met to review second quarter financial results.

Continuum CEO David Auger presented financial results of the second quarter of fiscal year 2019 as compared to the second quarter of fiscal year 2018.  Total revenue is up 1.97%, EBIDA (earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization, a key metric used by cable operators to measure performance) is up 15.42% and total expenses are up 2.37%.  Revenue generating units (RGUs) are down 3.59%, and customer relationships are down 1.93% in FY19 Q2 versus FY18 Q2.

“Our customers tell us they are really happy with the internet speed increases we’ve implemented at no additional cost to them,” said Auger. “We are piloting a new program called ‘Continuum Unboxed’ which is a new way to stream the national cable line-up simply with Continuum’s internet service, providing a great alternative to our cable service.”

The Continuum Board of Directors will meet again on April 25, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in the Davidson Town Hall board room.

For more information on Continuum, please visitwww.ourcontinuum.com and www.townofdavidson.org/miconnection.

About Continuum 

Continuum, formerly branded MI-Connection, is the community-owned and locally operated communications system proudly serving the towns of Mooresville, Davidson and Cornelius in the counties of Mecklenburg and Iredell in North Carolina. Continuum offers a Triple Play of Services including cable TV, high-speed internet and phone for both residences and businesses. For more information, visit www.ourcontinuum.com.   

New Davidson Gateway Development: Affordable Housing, Density Averaging, and the Griffith Street Hotel

Three weeks ago at the Davidson Town Board meeting on Tuesday, February 12th, a proposed new development was discussed on Davidson Gateway Dr.  The project would use the 3+ acre parcel on the south side of Woodies furthest from Griffith St as the last remaining parcel owned by Davidson Commons East LLC.  This is part of the same overall conditional planning area that includes Woodies and the two parcels for the controversial Griffith Street Hotel project.

At the meeting, Developer Saussy-Burbank was seeking feedback from the Board in what's now called a Pre-Development Consultation.  Having this kind of meeting in public is something new under the current Board which allows the public an early view into upcoming possible projects.  The discussed plan has 38 units, mostly single family homes, but it also includes a few duplexes.  The developer is interested in removing the conditional zoning designation and using the underlying Lakeshore Planning Area zoning.

The houses would include affordable housing built on site as part of the project - an increasingly rare thing in the current era of payment in lieu.  The price point of the market rate houses would also provide more affordable options in the town center than are currently available.  However, to achieve the desired density, the developer is looking to take advantage of what's called density averaging.

Density averaging is a process whereby a developer is allowed to overbuild on one parcel while permanently acquiring and preserving pervious area on another parcel in the same watershed area.

In this case the available allowed impervious area on Lot 4D as part of the Davidson Commons East development is an issue because the overall allowed impervious area is allotted to the entire development, not the individual Lots A-D.   Since the controversial, Griffith Street Hotel is still on the books as it works its way through the courts, there isn't enough impervious area left to accommodates this new projects without employing a gimmick like density averaging.

While this meeting in February of 2019 was the first public information provided on the project, public records show that something has been in the works for quite some time on this parcel.  Back in 2017, aShortChronicle obtained records showing this same developer discussing a project requiring density averaging on the same parcel.  The records from 2017 also indicate concern from Town staff regarding moving the proposed earlier project through the density averaging process at that time.  These requests are approved by the Board of Adjustment in a "publicly advertised meeting" that might draw "special attention".

Readers will remember in 2017, the controversial Griffith Street Hotel project was yet to be approved by the former Board.  That project was not approved until after the 2017 election in a lame duck vote by former Commissioners Beth Cashion, Rodney Graham, Brian Jenest, and Stacey Anderson.  Only Jim Fuller who was reelected voted against approving it.  The hotel approval has been challenged in court, and the citizens bringing the case won the initial decision.  The case is currently waiting for an decision on an appeal by the land owner and hotel developer.

Now, we have this new project on a different parcel that is part of the same overall development.  This new project however is constrained by the hotel approval which is still on the books as it works through the courts.

The combination of all these things poses an interesting trade off for the current Board whose members were not elected when most of these events occurred.  They are faced with supporting a residential project that will provide more affordable housing options, including built AH program units, but the cost of that very well may be using density averaging which raises concerns about water quality.  Furthermore, the density averaging is only necessary because of the controversial Griffith Street Hotel commercial project.  Finally, the benefit of the density averaging process accrues almost entirely to the landowner who may not be able to sell the property as easily without it.  However, that landowner also consciously chose to be in this situation by allocating such a large portion of impervious area to the hotel project.

The easy solution to all this is to simply not make any decisions on this new project until there is a final decision on the Griffith Street Hotel.  If the hotel project goes away, there is no real issue for the new Saussy-Burbank project as more impervious area would be available without resorting to density averaging.  Considering a residential project by Saussy-Burbank at this site has been under discussion for years now, not just recently, waiting a few more months seems like a small price to pay before the Town makes any decisions. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Community invited to comment on Davidson Mobility Plan (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C – The Town of Davidson has completed the draft of the Davidson Mobility Plan, a community-driven effort to look at innovative solutions, projects, policies, and programs to help residents move in town by foot, wheelchair, bike, car, transit, and address congestion. The plan is also a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) which evaluates moving people around town and provides actionable items such as project recommendations, projected costs, and funding sources to help the town manage, sustain, and improve the town’s transportation infrastructure.

Members of the community are invited to read the draft and comment by March 15 in the following ways:  

  • Visit www.davidsonmobilityplan.com to review thedraft . After reviewing the draft please submit any comments you have to DMP@townofdavidson.org. Please include the page number and section prior to your comment.    
  • Click this link to review the draft and comment online using Kauses.org. https://kauses.org/draft-davidson-mobility-plan    
  • Visit Town Hall to review a draft in person. Comment sheets are available by request.

“This draft is the culmination of many months of public input,” said Senior Planner Travis Johnson. “We appreciate the work of our community stakeholders and consultant Alta Planning + Design, and look forward to the eventual approval and implementation of this plan.”  

The next steps are to discuss this draft at future meetings:  

February 25: Joint meeting of the Livability Board and Planning Board at Davidson Town Hall; open to the public
February 26: Meeting of the Davidson Board of Commissioners; open to the public
March: Further discussion by the Davidson Board of Commissioners; open to the public 
April/May: Planning and Livability Boards’ final recommendation
June/July: Davidson Board of Commissioners consider approval

For more information, please visit www.davidsonmobilityplan.com and subscribe to the Davidson Mobility Plan eCrier list at www.townofdavidson.org/eCrier -- simply enter your email address and click on the small grey envelope to the left of “Davidson Mobility Plan.” For more information, please contact Senior Planner Travis Johnson at tjohnson@townofdavidson.org or 704-940-9639. 

Community invited to meet with DPD Chief Penny Dunn (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Town of Davidson invites the community to a meeting with Davidson Chief of Police Penny Dunn on Monday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ada Jenkins Center (212 Gamble Street) in Room 204 in the classroom building.  This is a “No Agenda” meeting.

“I want to take the time to ask how you think the Police Department is doing,” said Chief Dunn. “What are we doing right? What can we do better?”

The opportunity to engage with Davidson Police staff happens throughout the year at various events, such as Town Day, Custard with a Cop, or National Night Out.  Chief Dunn hopes a meeting without activities or an agenda will allow her to get the feedback needed to improve relations and performance of the organization.  ”We all believe we are doing a good job, but feedback from the community we serve ensures we are continuing to meet needs, get fresh ideas, and stay connected,” said Chief Dunn.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Davidson set to approve $200k for "affordable house" sold in 2017 for $138k

Davidson Commissioners will be asked to approve a budget amendment at Tuesday's Board meeting for $200,000 from the Town affordable housing fund for 153/155 Mock Rd in the Westside neighborhood.  The property will become part of the Davidson Housing Coalition's inventory of homes.

aShortChronicle has no problem using the AH payment in lieu funds for this type of thing.  That's what these funds are collected to do.  However, the amount is eyebrow raising when one considers this property sold in June 2017 for just $138,000.  That's according to the Mecklenburg County Polaris site.  In addition to that the two parcels to be purchased were recently valued at just $154,600 combined as part of the Mecklenburg County revaluation. $147,300 for the house and $7300 for the side yard parcel. $200,000 would be fully 29% above the combined appraised value.

The budget amendment wording does say any unused portion of the $200,000 will be returned to the affordable housing fund - implying the purchase price and related costs may be less than $200,000.  To clarify how Town money is being spent, the Town should disclose the actual purchase price and if any renovations need to be done to the house.



Sunday, February 10, 2019

UPDATE' Don't let NCDOT force an "accident waiting to happen" situation with NC73 widening at Davidson Concord Road

Update:  On Tuesday aShortChronicle received a copy of an email to NCDOT and various state and local elected officials, including newly minted State Senator, Natasha Marcus of Davidson.  Per a response in this thread from project manager Theresa Elllerby:

"The symbol for a signal was inadvertently left off of the preliminary plans mapping presented at the public meetings.  Currently, a signal is proposed at the intersection of Davidson Concord Road and NC 73.    I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience.  This error will be correct and an updated map will be posted on the website."

Good to hear.


The above email from the Davis Lake homeowners association landed in the inbox of aShortChronicle long before this blog even existed.  It was back in September 2007.  Yours truly lived in Davis Lake when the tragic event described occurred.  Sadly, for those who lived in the vicinity of this accident, it was widely known that it was just a matter of time before this type of email had to be sent.  That left turn was dangerous.

As readers probably know, Harris Blvd in North Charlotte is a divided highway with two lanes in each direction.  Traffic regularly moves through that particular area at high speeds.  Making a left across two lanes of fast moving traffic is not for the faint of heart.  It was an accident waiting to happen.  Residents had been asking for a left turn signal at that light for a long, long time.  One showed up almost immediately after someone died, so that improvement - while welcome - was also bittersweet.

Unfortunately, this incident from 2007 is what immediately came to mind when seeing the proposed idea for a new "superstreet" intersection at Davidson-Concord Road and NC 73 as part of a $160 million project to widen NC73 from Huntersville to Concord.

The so called "superstreet" design for this project was unveiled to residents at loval NCDOT presentations in late January.  aShortChronicle passed along that press release here.  Comments can be submitted on the plan through this coming Tuesday per that release.

While the superstreet design is billed as a supposedly safer design option, it is hard to see how that is the case at this intersection.  Superstreet don't have left turns and minimize stoplights.  Below is a picture of what that means if one is implemented at Davidson-Concord Rd and NC73.


If you are thinking "that looks strange" you are probably noticing that under this design option there would no longer be left turns onto NC73 for drivers heading south on Davidson-Concord Rd.  Instead, drivers wanting to go East on 73 will instead be forced to do the following:

  • First, go westbound on 73,
  • then, immediately cross two lanes of traffic,
  • then, get into a left turn lane,
  • then, do a u-turn across two oncoming lanes of high speed traffic,
  • finally, merge back into eastbound 73.
A simple one step process of turning left becomes a convoluted and likely hair raising five step process with that fourth step of doing a u-turn across two lanes of high-speed traffic looking eerily like the left turn in that fatal accident described from 2007 on Harris Blvd.

Add to that the fact that during rush hour a significant majority of the traffic approaching that intersection on Davidson-Concord Rd wants to go left, and you have the makings of an accident waiting to happen scenario.

That's a scenario that should be avoided at all costs.

Not speaking up now let's that decision be made in a vacuum by engineers at the NCDOT - engineers whose primary concern is moving cars and commerce as fast as possible along major roads like NC73.

However, they can be convinced to do what is best for the community if the community speaks out loud enough, forcefully enough.  Somewhat ironically, the best local example of that convincing also happens to have occurred in recent years along this very same stretch of road.

Long-time readers will remember what it took to get the speed limit lowered on Davidson-Concord Rd back in 2016.  The effort that finally rammed that issue through began with this blog post containing videos of how dangerous that situation had become.  It came after Davidson Town Hall had all but given up on the idea, but in the end NCDOT did the right thing and listened to what the public wanted because the public was adamant.

There are no videos of how dangerous this intersection is right now.  Right now the intersection of Davidson-Concord Rd and NC73 is not really dangerous.  It is just slow.   Engineers should focus on solving that problem, but the solution shouldn't come at the expense of making drivers take unnecessary risks on a daily basis.

If you think crossing four lanes of high speed traffic during rush hour just to make a left is dangerous, then get your comments in now.  Email comments to Project Manager Theresa Ellerby at tellerby@ncdot.gov.  Comments can also be submitted by phone at 919-707-6020 .

The correct type of intersection at this location will hopefully mean videos of close calls and more importantly emails like the one at the beginning of this post never have to be sent to anyone.