Wednesday, December 4, 2019

#GriffithSreetHotel saga quietly comes to an end...New Davidson Cottages begins

Tuesday night, at around 7pm, the long-running Griffith Street Hotel saga quietly came to an end at Davidson Town Hall.

As part of the "consent agenda" of uncontested items needing Board approval, the Davidson Board approved a settlement with plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Griffith Street Hotel thus ending the citizen effort to prevent this unwanted hotel project sandwiched between CSD's K-7 building and residential neighborhoods.

See this link for posts on the entire 4 year history of this hotel proposal.

This settlement will pay the plaintiffs $17,300 to cover their outstanding attorney's fees.  The original motion filed by plaintiffs sought over $43,000.  To that effect, a memo from Town Manager Jamie Justice to Commissioners included the following:

"The Town of Davidson has reached a settlement agreement in the case of Charde et. al. versus Town of Davidson. The settlement is in the amount of $17,300. The town has made the determination that it is in the best interest to settle the claims for attorney’s fees as applicable under state law. The town makes this business decision in the best interest of the taxpayers by evaluating the risks, analyzing the cost-benefit, and seeking final resolution to the case. This would be the last action that concludes all matters related to Charde et. al. versus the Town of Davidson."

Readers may remember that both the Town and developer were defendants in this lawsuit.  This settlement is being paid by the Town, but aShortChronicle has verified with lead plaintiff, Luke Charde, that this concludes all legal action involving the plaintiffs regarding this lawsuit.

In a related item, aShortChronicle has confirmed with the Town why the hotel project has been removed from the Town website.  Per Town Public Information Officer, Amanda Preston, "regarding the Davidson Commons East hotel project, our understanding is that the developer no longer intends to build a hotel on that site."

For those who have been fighting the ill conceived idea of a hotel at this location since early 2016, all of this is certainly welcome news.

Finally, as another sign development in this section of the Circles@30 area is moving on, the Board also heard an update on something called the Davidson Cottages o  Tuesday.  This project recently showed up on the Town website after first being mentioned back in March.  See this post on that original public conversation.  The Davidson Cottages project is on the other parcel in the overall development including Woodies and the parcels previously slated for the hotel.

The Davidson Cottages project by Saussey Burbank, proposes 30 single family homes and two duplexes on the parcel up Davidson Gateway on the other side of Woodies furthest from Griffith Street.  These will be narrow footprint, 3-story homes.  When this project was discussed back in March, the developer was inquiring about the possible need to use density averaging to build the project.  This was presumably because if the hotel project had gone forward, this tool would be needed to be allowed to build at this density due to the impervious surface limits on the overall Davidson Commons East site including all of these parcels.

At the time, the Board indicated this project should come up again when the Hotel issue was resolved.  It should not be lost on readers that this developer wasted no time doing so, bringing it up in the same meeting as the hotel lawsuit settlement.  While theoretically density averaging should no longer be needed since this project can utilize some of the built upon area previously designated for the hotel, as of Tuesday, it was the impression at the Planning Department that density averaging was still a possibility on this site.   Per Amanda Preston...

"Davidson Cottages is a conditional planning area map amendment. The developer has indicated that they will need to use Built-Upon Area (BUA) Averaging (density averaging). Per the ordinance, BUA Averaging can only occur after the board of commissioners has approved the conditional master plan."

This project if it goes forward will require multiple approvals, any if which could derail it.  It needs an approval for water and sewer.  It needs a conditional map amendment approval.  It also needs an approval from the Board of Adjustment if density averaging is ultimately used.

So, as one development project wraps up, another begins.  aShortChronicle will be following this one as well all...along...the...way.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Linden Mill (aka Metrolina Warehouses) has new project in the works...Public Meeting December 9th at Ada Jenkins

Thanks to an eagle eyed community member, aShortChronicle has learned of a possible new project on the Linden Mill site on Depot Street.  This is the same site as the now defunct Davidson Depot project on the long-standing Metrolina Warehouses parcels contaminated by the former Carolina Asbestos Corp.  However, rather than an unpopular, large-scale, multi-family development as proposed by Davidson Depot, this new project appears to be entirely commercial.

The below information hasn't been fully verified with the Town or developer due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  The project is also not listed on the Town Planning Department website, but since this important public meeting is only a week away we wanted to get this information out there.

According to documents on the NCDEQ website, a notice dated November 22nd went out to neighboring residents for a project by 301 Depot Holdings, LLC.  This LLC  is wholly owned by Lat Purser & Associates, Inc with offices in Charlotte.

The notice is for a public meeting on Monday, December 9th, at 630pm at the Ada Jenkins.

Based on the documents filed, the project appears to be more of a conversion/rehab of the existing buildings rather than a teardown of the existing site.  It also looks to be entirely commercial without any large scale residential.  Both should be welcome relief to neighbors as this type of plan should limit environmental concerns over a complete redevelopment of the site, and wouldn't bring hundreds of new residents.  Both were concerns with the previous Davidson Depot plan.

See the renderings below.  These were posted to the NCDEQ website on 11/26.  Plan on attending the Ada Jenkins meeting on 12/9 for confirmation of this information.



1

Monday, October 28, 2019

What if the Public Facilities Bond vote was to fail in Davidson?

As Davidson voters head to the polls this election, deciding two referendums impacting the Town will likely be the biggest choices voters make seeing that the Mayoral race is unopposed and the Board outcome is assured a solid majority of incumbents.

Those referendums include approving the sale of Continuum/Mi-Connection and $14 million in Public Facilities Bonds.

aShortChronicle thought it would be useful to look at the four possible outcomes between these two votes since both directly impact future finances of the Town, particularly the Town's options for addressing public facilities needs.  Here are the combinations.

A) Both referendums fail
B) Continuum fails / Bonds pass
C) Both referendums pass
D) Continuum passes / Bonds fail

For Options A and B, the outcome for the Town as it impacts the public facilities projects would effectively be the same.  In the unlikely scenario where voters don't choose to sell Continuum
  • the $1 million per year subsidies to the cable operation would continue indefinitely
  • the Town would not receive any money from the company's sale after paying off the remaining debts owed
  • the Town's hands would remain tied on Public facilities because of the hefty tax increases that would be required in either of these scenarios
These outcomes effectively eliminate freed up money for public facilities with the only way to fund these projects being an unpopular unilateral decision by the future Board to borrow money against voter wishes and pay for it with significant tax increases.

Without the passage of the Continuum sale referendum, any significant public facilities spending is unlikely - illustrating the importance of this sale going forward.

Option C provides the most money for obvious reasons.
  • The sale of Continuum provides an unspecified one-time infusion of cash to the Town after all related debts are paid.
  • The sale of Continuum frees up $1 million per year currently used to subsidize the cable system.
  • $14 million in additional approved Bond debt specifically for public facilities.
This option will bring the Town's total approved bonds to $29 million including the $15 million approved in 2017 for parks, roads, and greenways.  If all of it is issued residents would likely see significant tax increases over time, or commitment of the entire freed up $1 million annual money from the Continuum sale to prevent these tax increases.  Commitment of this $1 million per year in savings to servicing bond debt however, prevents that money from being used for something like lowering the Town's onerous solid waste fee - meaning taxpayers effectively receive no relief from selling Continuum after years of subsidizing it.

Option D is maybe the most interesting scenario.

What could happen if the sale of Continuum is approved, but the Public Facilities Bonds are not?

In this event, the Board could offset the portion of the public facilities projects for Police and Fire with whatever one-time funds come from the sale of Continuum.  The Town has conspicuously not talked about what it would do with any one-time funds received from a Continuum sale or even how large an amount might be cleared from a sale.  However, that number could be significant.  Based on the numbers that are publicly known ($80m sale price; $59m outstanding debt; roughly $1.8m owed to Mooresville under the interlocal agreement, plus the $1m set aside already for that Mooresville debt) Davidson could receive enough to make a big dent in the costs to renovate the existing Town Hall for Police and Fire.

$80m minus a 6% underwriting commission on the sale yields $75.2m.  Paying off the $59m outstanding debt leaves $16.2m.  Splitting
 that based on the 70%/30% ownership between Mooresville/Davidson leaves roughly $4.8m for Davidson minus another roughly $800k net owed to Mooresville beyond the $1m Davidson already has set aside.  That means Davidson could clear as much as $4m as a best case scenario.

Again, it would have been better for the Town to provide this calculation in more detail.  This calculation presented here is just for illustrative purposes.  If there are other expenses that come up as part of the sale the amount cleared to the Town could certainly be lower.  For example, maybe the commission is higher, or maybe there are some unexpected things that need to be addressed before closing.  However, the amount cleared can only go to zero as a worst case, and that still leaves the $1m per year that is freed up by eliminating the annual subsidy that could be directed towards public facilities in some portion.  Using this money this way would prevent lowering the solid waste fee, but likely for a shorter delay than if committed to a 20-year bond.

Regardless, if the Board after the election sees Police and Fire as a top priority (and they should) this part of the Public Facilities plan should be able to move forward in some fashion.  If the Public Facilities Bond fails to pass it is the belief here at aShortChronicle, it will be because of the overall cost, not because the public does not support the portion for Police and Fire.  Of course as part of moving public safety forward, the remaining staff would need to be accommodated somewhere until a new, less expensive plan can be devised for the 251 South Street facility.

That could be accomplished a number of ways such as: Phasing the public safety upgrades; Renting office space for staff; Making the most efficient use possible of all Town owned space;  Incrementally upgrading select space in 251 South Street.  It certainly might be difficult, but it could be done.  It being difficult also should not be used as an excuse for not moving forward with Police and Fire - again, if the Board sees that to be a priority.

The good news is that the sale of Continuum, if approved, gives the Board options no matter what happens with the Public Facilities Bond.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Main Street Halloween march TOMORROW! (Press Release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Put on your costume and join us at town hall on Friday, October 25 at 5:00 p.m. for the Halloween March down Main Street.  Davidson’s retailers, and other participants, will be handing out treats along Main Street, starting at town hall and going down to (and including) Depot Street.  Marchers may start lining up at 4:45 p.m.

“This is such a fun event for everyone – please come out to join us,” said Kim Fleming, Economic Development Manager.  

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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How much will new public facilities projects really cost Davidson?


There has been a lot of talk about the need for expanded public facilities in Davidson over the past several years.  Various proposals have looked at different ways to do this and each came with different costs.

One can go all the way back to the Catalyst Project which got its start in late 2014 which envisioned a complete makeover of the existing Town Hall site with a mix of uses including offices for the Town as well as residential, retail, and even a hotel right on Main Street.  That project was controversial.  It gave rise to the Paradise Lost Facebook group.  It made it sound like the Town could almost get new public facilities for free.  Well, not exactly "free".  The cost may very well have been the Town's soul plus a healthy commission - but it would have included some shiny new offices for staff.  Fortunately, by August 26, 2016 that project collapsed in the face of stiff citizen opposition led by now Mayor Rusty Knox.

In the aftermath of the Catalyst Project, the former Board pushed the idea forward of a new Town Hall paid for by the public.  That 2017 plan would have built a new facility on Main Street in front of the existing Town Hall while upgrading the existing building for the exclusive use of police and fire.  That proposal came in with an initial estimate of $17 million.  That number got people's attention - particularly because the former board was clear that they would not put this expenditure up for a vote.  After a minimal cost trimming exercise, estimated costs were lowered to $15.4 million.  This plan died with the 2017 election of a new Board (the current one) which (thankfully) indicated they would not spend that kind of public money without voter approval.

That brings us to the current plan.

In 2018, Davidson purchased the old IB Middle School property on South Street from CMS at a cost of $2.46 million with the intention of it becoming the eventual Town Hall and community center with an auditorium and space for non profits to use.  The existing Town Hall would be refurbished for police and fire like the other plans.  Costs for the remodel of 251 South Street however are not going to be cheap.  After starting at over $16 million, the Board settled on putting a $14 million bond on the Ballot this November.  This cost does not include renovating the old gym on site, so that will remain unusable.  However, that's not all.  According to Town Finance Director, Piet Swart, "on June 11, 2019, the Board reviewed the project options and moved forward with a total cost of $14,405,114.  The $400K over the proposed $14 million in GO Bonds would come from the capital projects fund."

All together, with the initial purchase of South Street, the proposed Bond, and the planned additional funds from the Town, the current Public Facilities proposal comes in at $16.9 million - making it the most expensive option given serious consideration to date.

The question for voters before heading to the polls and voting on the Public Facilities bond is this...

"Is this too much money to put on the taxpayer while still having $15 million in unspent 2017 bonds hanging out there AND with no plan to reduce the Town's solid waste fee which is the highest in the area AND coming on the heels of a property revaluation that resulted in significantly higher tax bills for many?"

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

New office building proposed for former Wells Fargo drive through site on South Main

When the Wells Fargo drive through kiosk closed, speculation began on what would become of the site.

With a new proposal on the Town Planning Department website, now we know.  A group called Davidson NoSo Commercial Development, LLC submitted an application dated September-19 for a 3-story commercial office building.

The plan proposes a 15,000 square foot building with 31 parking spaces (25 on site with 6 new on street spots.)  A Transportation Impact Analysis will be required as will Design Review Board approval.




Here at aShortChronicle, initial impressions are that it would be nice if this project had street level retail and a design that fits more with the surroundings.  Those are topics likely to come up during the DEB review process.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Griffith Street Hotel Plaintiffs file for attorney's fees

With the the primary legal decisions in the books regarding the Griffith Street Hotel lawsuit - including a unanimous decision by the NC Court of Appeals striking down the rezoning - the plaintiffs in the case are now seeking reimbursement of their attorney's fees.

To that end plaintiffs submitted an affidavit to the Court on Friday, September 27th, for the sum of $43,623.13.

That is quite a financial burden the Town put on residents impacted by this flawed decision - not to mention the emotional stress caused by the ordeal.  It is high time the Town relieve that burden.  The repeated mistakes by Town Staff and the callousness with which this flawed decision was pushed through by the outgoing group of former elected officials more than justifies plaintiffs taking this step.

According  to the NC General Statutes, attorney's fees can be awarded according to the following :

§ 6-21.7. Attorneys' fees; cities or counties acting outside the scope of their authority. In any action in which a city or county is a party, upon a finding by the court that the city or county acted outside the scope of its legal authority, the court may award reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to the party who successfully challenged the city's or county's action, provided that if the court also finds that the city's or county's action was an abuse of its discretion, the court shall award attorneys' fees and costs. (2011-299, s. 1.)

In addition to the obvious fact that the Town violated its own rules under the planning ordinance as verified by both the Superior Court decision and that decision being upheld on appeal, in the filed motion the plaintiff's Attorney points out that the Town admitted to the Court this violation was how they had always done things.  Meaning, other cases in the past have clearly been impacted by the Town's actions.  However, due to the brief statute of limitations in zoning decisions, these other cases can not be challenged.  In light of this admission, the Town is effectively saying it has gotten away with violations in the past.

A strong argument can certainly be made that this case falls both under the discretionary purview of the Court with the clear violation of the ordinance as well as the mandatory category of violations requiring the awarding of attorney's fees.

The Town through the actions of its Planning Department and it's Town Attorney, Cindy Reid, clearly misinterpreted the legal requirements of the Town's own ordinance.  The fact that the notice requirements in the ordinance are very clear but not following them is how the Town has always done it, shows a reasoned decision to do so.

A hearing on this motion has been set for November 21st.  Check back with aShortChronicle for more on this as it unfolds.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Town Hall offensive drive underway for Davidson Bonds

Davidson Town Hall
With Labor Day and Summer in the rear view mirror (despite what the daily 90 degree temps might say) and with Fall and Football now officially here, it's also time to kickoff election season.  In Davidson, with a lightly contested election for the Board and uncontested Mayoral race, the action is centering around two referendums.

The first is a required vote on the sale of Mi-Connection (aka Continuum) after an offer was announced in August.  This vote would seem to be a near certainty to pass as it would remove a long existing sore spot for the Town.

The outcome of the second referendum is arguably much less certain.

In this one, Davidson Town Hall is seeking citizen approval to issue $14 million in bonds for "public facilities".  Specifically, the Town wants to use the bulk of these bonds to refurbish the 251 South Street property to be the new Town Hall with the remainder of this money going towards upgrades to the existing Town Hall building for police and fire.

$14 million is a lot of money and certainly not guaranteed voter approval.  With that in mind Davidson Town Hall is engaging in an extensive "education" program in support of the referendum.  As indicated in the below slide from the September 9th Board meeting, citizens will likely hear the word "education" a lot since open advocacy for the bonds as part of official Town business is not allowed.


At that meeting earlier this month, Town Public Information Officer, Amanda Preston, provided an update to the Board on a communications plan to support this "education", not "advocacy", for this vote.  That full plan can be seen at this link, but here is a summary:

  1. Dozens of different distinct actions taken over multiple months. (See detailed schedule here.)
  2. Multiple avenues utilized including print, video, social media, and in person events (including the one mentioned in this press release.)
  3. Significant Town resources both in time and money committed to supporting the effort.

There is a fine line between "education" and "advocacy" when it comes to allowable activities surrounding referenda.  Comparing the significant effort put towards "educating" the public on the expensive Public Facilities bonds versus the virtually non-existent effort being put towards the arguably more important referendum on the sale of Mi-Connection makes one wonder if the Town has crossed it. 

Davidson Residents Invited to Public Facilities Open Houses (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Davidson residents will have the opportunity to vote on two town referenda on November 5, 2019, one pertaining to public facilities and one pertaining to the sale of Continuum. 

Two open houses highlighting the proposed public facilities plans will be:   

  • Thursday, October 3, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at town hall: Come take a tour of the Davidson Fire and Police Department facilities and learn about how the proposed public facilities referendum will impact them.    
  • Thursday, October 10, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at 251 South Street: Come take a tour, ask questions, and find out more about how the proposed public facilities referendum will impact this site.     

Communications Director Amanda Preston notes, “it’s critical for community members to get out and vote in this election, and we want to be able to provide several opportunities for residents to learn more about what they should expect to see on the ballot in November. With these open houses, folks from Davidson get a chance to see the spaces included in the proposed plan and better understand what the public facilities referendum means for our town.”  

Elected officials and town staff will also be available at other upcoming community events, and community members will be able to ask questions about both referenda on the ballot at the following times:  

Saturday, October 19, 8:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. at the Davidson Farmers Market: The Town of Davidson will have an information table at the market.  

Friday, October 25, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at town hall: The Town of Davidson will have an information table at the start of the Halloween March.  

More information is available at the town’s website at www.townofdavidson.org/election.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Beaty Park Celebration set for Saturday, October 5 (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Community members are invited to the Beaty Park Celebration and volunteer workday on Saturday, October 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 832 Beaty Street (near the corner of Main Street and Beaty Street). The Davidson Lands Conservancy, with grant funding from the Town of Davidson, is coordinating the removal of invasive plants at the park. Volunteer efforts are needed for this event to remove invasive species and brush on the surrounding trails.

Children will enjoy planned activities  such as pumpkin painting, gaga pit, World of Wonder (WOW) scavenger hunt, and more. Attendees can participate in guided walking tours, a chainsaw art demonstration, forest bathing meditation and light refreshments. We look forward to celebrating the conservation easement which was passed by the Davidson Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

To volunteer with the invasive plant removal, interested residents can use the SignUpGenius link HERE.

“The Park at Beaty Street Task Force, a Davidson Board of Commissioner-appointed citizen advisory board, was not only instrumental in developing a concept plan for this park land but also for ensuring it would be preserved in perpetuity,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kathryn Spatz. “We are so grateful for the task force’s efforts.”

Parking is limited so please consider walking, biking, or carpooling with a friend or neighbor.

Special thanks to the Davidson Lands Conservancy, Bartlett Tree Experts, ViZ, Harris Teeter and Native Roots for their support of this event!

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Davidson LifeLine to show documentary "Screenagers" Wednesday, October 16th at Our Town Cinema

All citizens are invited to Davidson Lifeline's documentary screening of SCREENAGERS on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Town Cinema

SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in The Digital Age is the first feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and offer parents and families proven solutions that work.

It’s been screened more than 7,000 times to two million people in more than 60 countries around the world. What started out as a personal story for one has grown into a national movement, helping millions of teens and their families navigate growing up in a world with instant access to screens.

Join Davidson LifeLine to watch SCREENAGERS and participate in a panel discussion with the following experts:

  • Psychiatrist
  • School Counselor
  • Mental Health Professional
  • An Individual with Lived Experience

Registration is required. Register at www.eventbrite.com (search for ‘LifeLine’) or email davidsonlifeline@gmail.com with your RSVP by October 14. Each guest will receive a free promotional size popcorn. Please contact Davidson LifeLine at davidsonlifeline@gmail.com with questions.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

THIS THRS: 25th and Final Bethel Presbyterian BBQ

This Thursday marks the 25th annual Bethel Presbyterian BBQ.  Unfortunately for local BBQ lovers, this one will also be the last.  Over the years, aShortChronicle has been a regular consumer of the fine fare of this from this great community event.  It's a personal favorite.

The below notice was sent to aShortChronicle by Allen Cook, one of the leaders of the event over the years.


On Thursday, September 26th, Bethel Presbyterian in Cornelius invites the community to join us in celebraon of our 25th Annual Bethel BBQ, Silent Aucon, Bake Sale, and Quilt Sale.

Over the last 25 years, this annual mission event has raised over $550,000 – with every penny going outside the church to support our mission partners. This year, all proceeds will bene*t the Charlotte Rescue Mission.

As Bethel looks to the future, we believe the me is right to move toward a new type of annual mission event. As a result, this year will be our final Bethel BBQ. However, Bethel is a mission-minded church and we plan on an annual mission event connuing for many years to come. Plans for the new mission event will be unveiled in early 2020.

But for 2019, the Bethel BBQ will be a time of food and fellowship, just as it has been over the past 25 years. And Bethel wants to give a big THANK YOU to those that have helped make it such a success – our friends and neighbors across northern Mecklenburg County. You can support us by picking up lunch or dinner through our drive through. Better yet, come into Bethel’s Family Life Center for a BBQ meal and to check out the selecon of hand-made quilts and Silent Aucon items. While inside, you can also enjoy baked goods including cakes, pies, and other goodies.

Bethel Presbyterian is located at 19920 Bethel Church Rd in Cornelius. The event will be held on Thursday, September 26 serving from 11AM – 7PM. Food prices are $9 for a BBQ Plate including beans and slaw OR three sandwiches with slaw. A pound of BBQ can be purchased for $12. Cash, checks, and credit cards are accepted. Again, all proceeds will go to our mission partner, the Charlotte Rescue Mission.

THANK YOU Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville for making the Bethel BBQ a big success over the last 25 years. We hope you’ll join us in to celebrate this special event.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Never Forget

Like most people old enough to remember, I can picture exactly where I was and recollect almost every moment of September 11, 2001.  In 2015, I wrote this post about my memories from that day.

As we all take a moment to remember that solemn occasion, here are some pictures from.this morning's ceremony in Uptown.

The memorial this year was divided into sections with pictures of each person who perished that day attached to individual flags.  More than one person could be seen clearly looking for specific flags, bringing home the human cost and the personal impact this tragedy had on so many.  The sections for the first responders who lost their lives rushing to help the victims were particularly poignant.





While the vast majority of those who died that day came from the US, this was also a tragedy for the world symbolized by the display of flags from around the globe.




Never Forget



Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Beaty Park Property to Close During the Removal of Invasive Plants (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Davidson Lands Conservancy, along with Town of Davidson funding, is coordinating and underwriting the professional removal of some invasive plants growing on the Beaty Park site.  Invasive species stress ecosystems by slowing the growth of a diversity of native plants optimal for wildlife.

Native Roots, an Asheville based ecological services firm, is scheduled to cut the invasive plants along and back from the main pathways September 4-5, with September 6 as a rain date. According to best practices, Jeff Stewart, owner of Native Roots and project coordinator, will chemically treat the cut stumps in order to penetrate the roots.  Cut plants will remain on site until a later date when they will be either chipped or moved off of the path corridors.

Natural Assets and Sustainability Coordinator for Davidson, Charlene Minor, says, “Having Native Roots treat the invasives at Beaty Park is a great first strike in what will be an ongoing effort to keep these plants at bay.”

Residents can volunteer to help continue the effort on October 5, 2019 by signing up here.  

Town staff will be posting signs at the park alerting residents and visitors to avoid using the trails while work is ongoing.

For more information or if you have questions, contact Charlene Minor at cminor@townofdavidson.org or 704-892-3349.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Could vs Would vs Should...Regarding Town communications on Public Facilities and Mi-Connection referendums

The "apolitical" Facebook page "Positively Davidson" recently dove headlong into the political realm by asking the below fundamentally political question.

We've always stayed apolitical on Positively Davidson, and this post isn't meant to break that streak. With the (likely) impending sale of Continuum, and the subsequent payoff of outstanding debt and the elimination of Davidson's annual $1 million subsidy, we'd like to get your opinion on what Davidson should do in the upcoming budget season.

Option 1 is to basically give the subsidy back to the citizens via a property tax reduction. Based on 12,000 citizens, this would work out to a little less than a quarter a day for each citizen. 

Option 2 would be to utilize the freed up subsidy on infrastructure projects such as sidewalks, greenways, and roundabouts, and also to invest in affordable house. Let us know your thoughts. Please only take the poll if you are a resident of Davidson. Thank you!

Below are the results.  Take them for what you will based on the small sample size of 71 responses.

The results appear overwhelmingly one-sided if you take them at face value.  However, here at aShortChronicle we think the poll presents a false choice by only providing the options it does in the way it does.  The options are clearly presented in a way to get the result received.  The impact of Option 1 is presented as minimized benefit to citizens, and the impact of Option 2 is presented as outsized.

Whether this poll is fairly worded or not though is somewhat irrelevant.  Private citizens or groups have a lot of flexibility in how they promote their positions.

The same can't be said about how the Town itself must handle communications on things - election related items specifically. Davidson's Town board had an extensive discussion on the topic of how to spend the money freed up by the pending sale of Mi-Connection at last week's Town Board meeting.

Interestingly, the options on the Board agenda didn't directly include possibility of lowering taxes as the Positively Davidson poll implied.  Instead, the Board discussed possible plans for the money and the tax impacts that might come along with various spending plans.  These plans include some of the "investing in Davidson" that the Positively Davidson poll mentions, but also includes covering costs for the public facilities (aka New Town Hall) proposal Positively Davidson left out.

Here are those options from the Board agenda:


It should be noted, neither Positively Davidson nor the initial Town Hall list mentioned eliminating the Town solid waste fee which was implemented years ago to free up money for Mi-Connection subsidies.  Frankly, that should probably be at the top of the list.

Specifically, last Tuesday's conversation was mostly around how to direct Staff in communications with citizens on the possibilities for addressing a number of Town spending priorities.  Much of the conversation was driven addressing Commissioner David Sitton' s concerns that the Board was even discussing this at all in light of the fact that the Mi-Connection/Continuum sale is not finalized yet, and therefor, the actual money available is not known.

Sitton's position was essentially that the Board was putting the cart before the horse discussing how spending any potential freed up money from a Mi-Connection sale could/would/should be communicated when voters haven't even weighed in yet.  Sitton stated repeatedly that the Town should just stick to communicating  the facts and tell citizens the new Town Hall project will cost 2 cents on the tax rate while the sale of Mi-Connection will save the Town 4 cents on the rate.  Rather than muddying the waters by commingling subjects that will be voted on separately the Town should be as succinct and clear as possible.

aShortChronicle wholeheartedly agrees with that position.

Not only should the Town always strive to be clear, it is the opinion here at aShortChronicle that commingling all these topics into a single communications plan in an election year when all Commissioners are also up for election gets seriously close to breaking the restrictions on the Town advocating for the referendums.  The NC General Statues prohibit the Town from doing that sort of advocacy.

Here is why this gets murky.

The cost of the new public facilities bonds on the ballot will be two cents, but by implying in any way the Town could or would use the savings from a Mi-Connection sale to offset these costs, it makes it look like the cost of those Bonds is really zero. That would be misleading.  What if a future Town Board uses the freed up Mi-Connection money to lower or eliminate the solid waste fee which was implemented years ago to free up money to help subsidize Mi-Connection?  (Commissioner Campbell mentioned that as a concern that exists in the community.)  The Board very well might not have enough money to cover what is mentioned in any communication if the messages are commingled.

Add to this the fact that all Commissioners are also on the ballot with these referendums, and it gets even more muddled.  As a voter, if you want to ensure whatever is communicated as a "could happen" with the Mi-Connection money, the subtle implication is that you better vote for all the current Board members as well.

To be very clear no Commissioner implied that, and it probably didn't even cross anyone's mind.  However, it is a logical conclusion.

By commingling the communications to citizens around these issues it could be seen as promoting a certain outcome for both referendums on the ballot as well as the election for the Board itself.   aShortChronicle suggests the Town look at this information from the UNC-SOG before deciding exactly what and how to communicate with citizens.

Keeping it simple, could also keep the Town out of hot water with the Board of Elections.

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.