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, Sign up for our What’s Next? eCrier to receive news and information at 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."


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.