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.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Complete survey #2 for Davidson's updated comprehensive plan - deadline extended to February 10th (press release)

DAVIDSON, NC -- Please share your voice to shape Davidson’s future as we develop a vision for our town. This fall the Town of Davidson began a comprehensive plan process, entitled What’s Next Davidson?, its first such effort since 2010. To officially kick-off Phase 2, the town hosted a well-attended community-wide workshop on January 17. If you were unable to attend, we encourage you to complete our second online survey on our website atwww.whatsnextdavidson.com by Sunday, February 10.Hard copies are available in the Davidson Town Hall lobby.

We encourage you to:

  • Visit www.WhatsNextDavidson.com to complete the second online survey by February 10 and review the Community Snapshot Report containing key planning trends, data, and conditions that are affecting the Town of Davidson.
  • Sign up for our What’s Next? eCrier to receive news and information at www.townofdavidson.org/eCrier(type in your email and click the “What’s Next?” list at the bottom)
  • Mark your calendar to attend the “Shaping What’s Next” workshop from April 1-3 in the Davidson College Presbyterian Church Congregation House and Davidson Town Hall (details on specific times and locations to come).
“We were incredibly pleased with the number of attendees at our January 17 workshop and appreciated the facilitation work of our table captains,” said Communications Director and Co-Project Leader Cristina Shaul. “The energy in the room created by input-sharing was a testament to the community members who care so much about Davidson, its future, and creating an overarching vision for our town."

Background:

The Davidson Board of Commissioners identified the comprehensive plan as a priority in their 2018-2019 Strategic Plan. A comprehensive plan is the leading policy document and tool to help a community create a vision and guiding principles for decision-making for their town. It covers a lot of topics ranging from housing and transportation to land use, economic development, environment, health, and other areas. It brings all these topics into one document that is then used by elected officials, town staff, and citizens to guide decisions about our community, such as:  How to prioritize what facilities to improve or construct (buildings, parks, streets); what types of land uses are appropriate for different areas of town; what types of programs should we encourage or offer (from government to businesses to institutions and nonprofits); and, how to ensure that our community’s values are represented in each decision made. Generally, comprehensive plans are updated about every ten years, but in high-growth regions such as ours they are often updated every 5-8 years. What’s Next Davidson? features many opportunities for public input over the next several months.

The comprehensive plan is a community-centered initiative. The planning process entails an extended community conversation that intentionally engages all stakeholders – residents, neighborhoods, businesses, the college, town government, non-profits, and institutions. Led by a consultant team comprised of Clarion Associates and Planning Next, the planning process will feature a variety of events, tools, and meeting formats to encourage community members to share insight into our community via in-person meetings/workshops, email, and online as well as hard-copy surveys. Whereas this fall will focus on background research and gathering input “where people are,” in the winter and spring of next year the town will host a series of community-wide events in which all are invited to participate. Together, each of these exercises will gather input essential to forming a community-wide vision and set of policies to support our aspirations.

Below is a summary of the process and anticipated timeline:

  • October - December 2018:  Initial public engagement + community research; 
  • January 17, 2019:  Community meeting to present and discuss findings; 
  • April 1-3, 2019:  Multi-day workshop/event(s) to solicit feedback on policy direction and framework for future comprehensive plan; 
  • Summer 2019:  Drafting of the comprehensive plan; 
  • Fall 2019:  Presentation of draft plan and making revisions; 
  • Winter 2019-2020:  Consideration of adopting new comprehensive plan; 
  • Winter/Spring 2020:  Drafting/review/approval of implementation plan to guide execution of the comprehensive plan.


Want more information on what’s going on in Davidson? Be sure to visit our website often, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for our eCrier email distribution list. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

CATS staff recommendation effectively kills the Red Line train to North Mecklenburg...and that's a good thing

That's the real takeaway from the North Corridor portion of a presentation to the MTC given by CATS CEO John Lewis on Wednesday.  No, the official recommendation doesn't officially pull the plug on the Red Line Regional Rail project that has been on life support for quite some time, but it doesn't take much imaginative thinking or tea leaf reading, and only the bare minimum of common sense, to see that is very likely the end result.

Based on the slides in the presentation, the Red Line Commuter Rail line to North Mecklenburg now looks to be replaced with Bus Rapid Transit - pending approval by the MTC.  That's a good thing for tax payers, commuters, and the livability of the older parts of the North Meck towns.  aShortChronicle has been writing about the problems with the Red Line train plan since the early days of this blog, so seeing sanity start to prevail on this subject is welcome relief.

Readers can take a look at all of the North Corridor slides from the larger presentation at the bottom of this post, or see the link in this story on the meeting from WSOC.  However, the gist of them is this.
  • Enhanced Express Bus service will be on the way to North Mecklenburg as soon as the I77 Express lanes open.

  • BRT will provide better service than Commuter Rail with direct peak service to an increased number of park and ride stops while also having all day service the full range of stops the rest of the day.

  • Full BRT Service will be 5-10 years away assuming funding can be obtained.  The Red Line train is now relegated to a long term (meaning likely never) plan.

While the planners just couldn't bring themselves to officially recommend killing the Red Line rail project, keeping it on the books as a "long term" plan, with BRT in place it is hard to see rail transit ever getting built.  BRT will provide faster, more frequent service while requiring significantly cheaper capital costs to implement.  Once in place the argument for expensive, slow, and redundant rail transit effectively becomes silly.

Frankly, that's a good thing.

Rail transit along the Norfolk Southern O-line would destroy the small town character of the older parts of Huntersville and Cornelius, and be particularly bad for Davidson by encouraging stack and pack high density residential development in the immediate area of the proposed train stations.  BRT along I77 on the other hand will be far enough from these areas to prevent this and some of the accompanying gentrification pressure while also providing a better mass transit solution.  In contrast to Davidson Town Hall which has long been the biggest cheerleader of the rail transit in North Meck, former Mayor John Woods in particular became the face of rail transit, aShortChronicle has long been a proponent of BRT as the preferred solution.  See, here, here, here, here and here.

When the MTC does vote on this recommendation for BRT service, something that could happen as soon as next month, North Mecklenburg mayors who sit on that body should jump at the chance to vote for it.

Full North Corridor Slide Presentation


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Public Meetings for Proposed Improvements to N.C. 73 (press release)

CHARLOTTE – The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold two public meetings next week about a project to improve a section of N.C. 73 between N.C. 115 in Mecklenburg County and U.S. 29 in Cabarrus County.

The project's aim is to reduce congestion in the corridor and provide accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists. Recommendations to improve the roadway are included in comprehensive transportation plans developed by the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization and Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

People can attend either or both meetings on the following dates:

Monday, Jan. 28, at Lake Norman Church of Christ, 17634 Caldwell Station Road in Huntersville
Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Connect Christian Church, 3101 Davidson Highway in Concord

Both informal meetings will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. People can drop in at any time to view design maps, speak with project team members and leave comments. The same information will be presented at both meetings.

Project information and materials can also be viewed online as they become available at the project's website.

Comments can also be submitted by phone or email through Feb. 12. Contact Theresa Ellerby, NCDOT Project Manager, for more information at 919-707-6020. All comments received will be taken into consideration as the project develops.

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate in this meeting. Anyone requiring special services should contact Caitlyn Ridge at 919-707-6091 as early as possible so arrangements can be made.

Persons who speak Spanish and have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English may receive interpretive services upon request prior to the meeting by calling 1-800-481-6494


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Hearing date set for Griffith Street Hotel appeal

The long awaited date for the next step in the Griffith Street Hotel lawsuit became available last week.  Oral arguments will be heard at 1pm on Wednesday, February 13th at the NC Court of Appeals in Raleigh.  This is the only case scheduled for oral argument for its three judge panel, so things should get started on time.

The appeal of the Superior Court decision to invalidate the zoning approval for a new Hyatt Place hotel sandwiched between the Westside neighborhood, the K-7 building  of the Community School of Davidson, and across from Spinnaker Cove is being brought by the developer/landowner defendants in the case.  The Town of Davidson is not a part of the appeal.

Oral arguments will be heard by Judge Chris Dillon, Judge Lucy Inman, and Judge Allegra Collins.  For what it is worth since judicial races are now partisan in North Carolina, Judge Dillon is a Republican and Judges Inman and Collins are Democrats.  Judge Dillon was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2012, making him the most senior of the three.  Judge Collins was just elected in November 2018, making her one of the newest members of the Court of Appeals.  Judge Inman was elected in 2014.

It is hard to believe, but this Griffith Street Hotel saga is now in its fourth calendar year.  Check out the Griffith Street Hotel Chronicle to catch up on the action from the very beginning.



Thursday, January 17, 2019

Davidson to host MLK Day breakfast at Town Hall (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Community members are invited to the Town of Davidson’s inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. event in the Davidson Town Hall Board Room on Monday, January 21 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.

We are honored to bring the community together to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

The event will include:

  • A light breakfast
  • Spoken word
  • Guest speaker, Tracy Mattison Brandon

Additional parking is available in the school parking lot at 251 South Street.  

For more information about this new event, please call the Davidson Parks and Recreation Department at 704-892-3349. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Davidson responds to Potts Street lawsuit

aShortChronicle told readers back in early November 2018 about the lawsuit filed by the Davidson Acquisition Company and Crescent Acquisitions over the Town of Davidson denying water extension to a proposed development project on the border of Davidson and Cornelius at Potts Street.

A piece of the project in its earliest version that fell in Cornelius was withdrawn in 2017 when it became clear it had little support from that town's Board.  Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy was particularly strong in his opposition to it, specifically the part in Davidson which would also impact Cornelius.  After Davidson's decision in August of last year regarding the water extension approval, the entire project seemed to be destined for the trash heap.

Then came the November lawsuit which set the clock ticking for a response from Davidson.  After asking for an extension to respond the Town response was due last Friday, and aShortChronicle obtained a copy on Monday.

Davidson's response was filed by attorneys with Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, a law firm with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington.  The 15 page response is relatively short and to the point.  The Town claims "governmental immunity" against the Plaintiffs bringing the case.  In the section where the Town responds paragraph by paragraph to the developers' attorneys' allegations, the Town denies all of the points other that what it considers statements of fact, not allegations.  Finally, in the sections responding to the requests for relief, the Town flatly denies all claims.

There was one response from the Town that did surprise aShortChronicle.  That was in regards to Save Davidson.  Readers will remember from the earlier post, it seemed strange the Plaintiffs even mentioned Save Davidson as part of this complaint.

In the Town response to allegations mentioning Save Davidson the Town said "it is admitted upon information and belief that an organization known as Save Davidson, Inc is opposed to development in Davidson."

aShortChronicle checked with Town Attorney, Cindy Reid, to see if she could/would clarify what seemed like a mischaracterization of the Save Davidson organization whose mission statement is "to preserve Davidson's small-town quality of life by educating and engaging citizens in Town governance, community advocacy, and activism."

Unfortunately, on Tuesday Reid only responded with "I apologize that I cannot comment on pending litigation."

aShortChronicle also checked with Save Davidson to get the group's take on this.  Below is a statement provided by the group.

"It is disappointing that the Town's response has misconstrued Save Davidson’s mission of educating, engaging, advocating for, and activating citizens. Of the many development projects in town, there are only a handful that our members (to whom we offer a voice via our platforms) take issue with. Dragging Save Davidson into the discussion is a distraction from the issue of unsuitable development and the impact this high density development would have on our town infrastructure. It also seemingly discounts that many citizens, beyond Save Davidson, have concerns about unsuitable development. It is a sad day for democracy when a citizen-run non-profit group is mentioned in a lawsuit such as this and, equally so, that the Town of Davidson through its response, has fostered the unfounded notion that Save Davidson is ‘anti-development.’"

So there you have it.  Both sides have thrown their first punches in what could be a long fight.  Unfortunately, both sides also seem preoccupied with Save Davidson who isnt even in the ring.  No date is set for further action in the case, and this process is just at the beginning.  It could be a lengthy one, and aShortChronicle will be here covering it each step of the way.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Community-Wide Comprehensive Plan Workshop - Thurs 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (press release)

DAVIDSON, NC -- Please come share your voice to shape Davidson’s future as we develop a vision for our town. This fall the Town of Davidson began a comprehensive plan process, entitled What’s Next Davidson?, its first such effort since 2010. To officially kick-off Phase 2, the town will host a community-wide workshop on Thursday, January 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lilly Family Gallery of the Chambers Building on Davidson College’s campus. Called the “Conversation on What’s Next” workshop, this event is an opportunity for us to come together and share our ideas about the town’s future – we encourage everyone in Davidson to attend!

We encourage you to:

RSVP for the workshop by visiting www.WhatsNextDavidson.com, Sign up for our What’s Next? eCrier to receive news and information at www.townofdavidson.org/eCrier(type in your email and click the “What’s Next?” list at the bottom), andMark your calendar to attend the “Conversation on What’s Next” workshop on January 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lilly Family Gallery in the Chambers Building at Davidson College.

What should I expect?

The two-hour event will cover a range of topics focused on the future of the town. Input will be gathered on topics ranging from small town character and housing to transportation, jobs, future growth and beyond. There will be a range of activities including live-polling, a small group discussion, and interactive displays. Refreshments will be served, and a drawing for fun prizes will also take place. Even if you have not participated in the process to date, we encourage you to attend!

Participants are encouraged to arrive early to view the interactive displays and find their seats as well as mingle with neighbors, friends, and family. Participants should also bring a mobile device for the live-polling segment of the program; paper copies of the poll questions will be available to those that do not have a device.

How do I get there?

Parking will be available in the Baker Sports Complex lot as well as along Concord Road and Main Street.People that live close to campus are encouraged towalk.We’ll also have a shuttle bus leaving from 251 South Street at 5:45 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. to take attendees to the workshop and drop them back at the lot on the site afterward. There are 24 seats on the bus and 51 parking spaces available at 251 South Street.Attendees are encouraged to enter the front entrance of Chambers Building that faces west/towards Main Street (see blue arrow on map below).

“We were so pleased with the number of completed surveys we received from October through December,” said Communications Director and Co-Project Leader Cristina Shaul. “We are fortunate that our community members care so much about Davidson, its future, and creating an overarching vision for our town. We look forward to continuing the conversation on January 17 to get more direction on creating the plan."

Background:

The Davidson Board of Commissioners identified the comprehensive plan as a priority in their 2018-2019 Strategic Plan. A comprehensive plan is the leading policy document and tool to help a community create a vision and guiding principles for decision-making for their town. It covers a lot of topics ranging from housing and transportation to land use, economic development, environment, health, and other areas. It brings all these topics into one document that is then used by elected officials, town staff, and citizens to guide decisions about our community, such as:  How to prioritize what facilities to improve or construct (buildings, parks, streets); what types of land uses are appropriate for different areas of town; what types of programs should we encourage or offer (from government to businesses to institutions and nonprofits); and, how to ensure that our community’s values are represented in each decision made. Generally, comprehensive plans are updated about every ten years, but in high-growth regions such as ours they are often updated every 5-8 years. What’s Next Davidson? features many opportunities for public input over the next several months.

The comprehensive plan is a community-centered initiative. The planning process entails an extended community conversation that intentionally engages all stakeholders – residents, neighborhoods, businesses, the college, town government, non-profits, and institutions. Led by a consultant team comprised of Clarion Associates and Planning Next, the planning process will feature a variety of events, tools, and meeting formats to encourage community members to share insight into our community via in-person meetings/workshops, email, and online as well as hard-copy surveys. Whereas this fall will focus on background research and gathering input “where people are,” in the winter and spring of next year the town will host a series of community-wide events in which all are invited to participate. Together, each of these exercises will gather input essential to forming a community-wide vision and set of policies to support our aspirations. Below is a summary of the process and anticipated timeline:

  •           October - December 2018:  Initial public engagement + community research;
•           January 17, 2019:  Community meeting to present and discuss findings;
•           April 1-3, 2019:  Multi-day workshop/event(s) to solicit feedback on policy direction and framework for future comprehensive plan;
•           Summer 2019:  Drafting of the comprehensive plan;
•           Fall 2019:  Presentation of draft plan and making revisions;
•           Winter 2019-2020:  Consideration of adopting new comprehensive plan;
•           Winter/Spring 2020:  Drafting/review/approval of implementation plan to guide execution of the comprehensive plan.

Public Input Session: Mayes Hall Master Plan (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The project developer – The Bayard Group – proposes to develop a 24± acre site to accommodate a 64 lot/68-unit residential community located at 13297 and 13415 Mayes Road, about one-half mile west of its intersection with NC 73. Known as the Mayes Hall Master Plan, this development will provide the community and surrounding areas with vehicular and pedestrian connections between adjacent properties and land uses to the north and south of the site. The development will also provide public open space including parks, greenway/walking trails, and a multi-use path along Mayes Road.

The project team for the proposed Mayes Hall Master Plan will host a second public input session on January 16, 2018 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Davidson Town Hall (216 South Main Street). The purpose of the meeting is to review changes to the master plan since the first public input session and solicit feedback. An overview presentation by the project team will occur at 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., with time allotted for questions and viewing the plans in an open house format after each presentation. Staff will also be present to answer questions. For additional information concerning the proposal, including the updated plans, please see the project webpage

Friday, January 11, 2019

Davidson South Street "Task Force" becomes "Steering Committee"

After closing on the former Davidson IB Middle School property in December, the Town has wasted no time seating a "Steering Committee" of 16 people to help drive the planning for the project.  This took place at Tuesday's Board meeting.  The steering committee will be charged with leading a larger task force (that now includes all applicants) with recommending what to do with the 5+ acre property on South Street.

Steering Committee Members include:

Co-chairs: Matt Churchill and Elizabeth Martin 
Members: David Holthouser,Deborah Keenan, John Burgess, Lorraine Degree, Shelley Rigger, Marion Sekerak, Shana Erber, Lisa Koenig, Al Sudduth, John Griffith, Wynn Mabry, Susan Manning, Monica Galloway, Stewart Gray will be an ex-officio member, representing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

The above list was chosen with an eye towards ensuring widespread representation.  Members come from existing Town Advisory Boards, neighborhood reps, and at large applicants.  According to the list provided to aShortChronicle which includes the neighborhood of each appointee, the Town did a good job pulling together people from all across Davidson with residents stretching from June Washam to Davidson Landing included in the group.

In what may be seen as an unusual move for a group that is tasked with moving "on a tight deadline to provide a recommendation for community space in the school building to the Davidson Board of Commissioners in March", the nominating committee decided to expand the list of overall participants.  Taking an everyone into the pool approach, anyone who applied for the Task Force will now be allowed to participate in what is expected to eventually be  number of sub-committees.  That will take the total number of people involved up to around 50.

Considering the breadth of experience in the applicant pool which included people from the development community, people with other government body experience as well as former Davidson elected officials John Woods and Margot Williams, these additional people could be used as a "force multiplier" in getting the job done.  The force multiplier point was made by Commissioner Jane Campbell who was part of the nominating committee that chose to move in this direction.

Speaking to the obvious risk of corralling such a large group to be effective, Mayor Rusty Knox said "I don't want this thing to bog down into subcommittee after subcommittee.  I'm still going to call it a task force because it's got a job to do, and we've got a finite time to do it."

Whether you call it a "task force" or a "steering committee", this group has a lot of work to do in a short period of time.  Importantly, their recommendations will be critical to gathering the necessary support for the project to pass a bond referendum this November to actually fund it.

Here's hoping this wide ranging group can be focused enough to actually do that.