Thursday, April 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what does this actually mean?

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

It does however absolutely mean this....

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

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

Monday, April 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Per an email from Burgess:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Budget decisions must be made by the end of June.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

National Citizen Survey results show improved confidence in Davidson Town Hall

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

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

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

From 2017 NCS

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

From 2019 NCS

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

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit: