Cornelius commissioners on Monday approved a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones’s plans for dealing with problems in the county’s 2011 property revaluation. The board also adopted a resolution affirming its rejection of a proposed 108-unit apartment complex at Kenton Place, and got a look at a draft of a new vision for the areas around I-77 Exit 28.
In a vote near the end of their meeting Monday night, commissioners objected to the county manager’s plans to use existing staff to oversee an expansion of an outside firm’s review of the revaluation, and to fix problems found.
Commissioner Dave Gilroy led the board’s discussion of the resolution, which also calls for an outside consultant to oversee improvements in customer service in the assessor’s office and to help plan the next revaluation.
Mr. Gilroy said “there’s a potential conflict” with having existing staff oversee the next steps in the revaluation, since the county manager and assessor’s office have insisted there were no problems with the 2011 property revaluation.
The county hired Pearson’s Appraisal Service of Wilson to conduct an independent review over the past few months, and while the firm found the revaluation overall to be acceptable, it cited flaws in some areas. Those included inequities in some neighborhoods, including those around Lake Norman, and poor customer service in dealing with appeals.
The board’s objections mirrored those of former Commissioner Jim Bensman, who has been pressing county officials to fix problems with the revaluation. In an email Monday, Mr. Bensman said:
For Harry (Jones) to propose to have the current management of the Assessor’s office and the BER (Board of Equalization and Review) involved in fixing the 2011 Revaluation is a stunning indication that he still does not accept the severity of the problems. To contend that fixes can be done under current law contradicts statements made by him, the County legal staff, the Department of Revenue, the Pearson consultants and members of the CRAC committee (Citizen Revaluation Advisory Committee).
The Mecklenburg County Commission will take up the issue on Tuesday night. Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte said he would deliver the board’s objections to the commission at the meeting.
On Monday, Mr. Jones delivered his recommended next steps on the revaluation. (See the full recommendations added to the commission agenda here.)
Mr. Jones asks the commission to:
- Approve an expansion of Pearson’s contract to identify other neighborhoods that may have had inequities in valuations.
- Authorize the county manager to seek bids for a consultant to “rework” the neighborhoods with problems. This could cost $1.5 million to $2.5 million and take 12 months.
- Let county staff address “minor” issues
- Direct the County Manager and Assessor to develop a detailed work plan for the next revaluation with specific areas to fix.
- Order changes at the Board of Equalization and Review
Tuesday’s county commission meeting begins at 6pm at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center in Charlotte.
See also Nov. 19, 2012, “Consultants’ report in; now up to commissioners to fix reval.”
BOARD AFFIRMS KENTON PLACE VOTE
Also at Monday night’s Town Board meeting, the board approved a “Resolution of Consistency and Reasonableness” explaining its Nov. 5 vote to reject a zoning change for a proposed 108-unit apartment block at Kenton Pace, off West Catawba Avenue.
The vote was a technicality and mirrored the 3-2 margin on Nov. 5, when commissioners Gilroy, Rinker and Hare voted to reject developer Gary Cangelosi’s proposal, and commissioners Bradford and Travis disagreed.
Town attorney Bill Brown told the board he had erred that night in telling the board they didn’t need to adopt a resolution specifying their objections. So on Monday, the board passed the resolution, which is required by state law. The statement expresses the board’s decision that the project, which had been proposed near the former Palace Theater, “is not consistent with the Town’s CMP (comprehensive master plan) and is not reasonable due to existing transportation infrastructure.”
EXIT 28 AREA PLAN
In a preliminary session at 6pm Monday, commissioners heard a presentation from planner Bill Eubanks of SWA Urban Edge Design Studio, who is helping the town draft a new plan for the Exit 28 area.
The town began the study in 2011. Mr. Eubanks’ presentation Monday gave an overview of the different qualities of neighborhoods on either side of the Exit 28 interchange from I-77.
He said the plans’ goals should be to help develop and improve the sense of community in the area, build strong neighborhoods, and encourage people to shop locally. Preliminary recommendations include:
- Improving architecture and walkability in the area along and off West Catawba Avenue.
- Continuing development of commercial infill along Torrence Chapel Road and Liverpool Parkway.
- Adding and improving hotel and retail devleopment close to the highway on east and west
- Locating the long-planned community center in Smithville up on Catawba Avenue – instead of deeper in the neighborhood as previously envisioned.
- Thinking of the Oak Street Mill area as a potential “arts and food hub,” possibly including a farmer’s market.
The Cornelius Planning Board will take a look at the draft on Dec. 10. The Town Board could consider the Exit 28 plan at its 2nd meeting in December or in January, according to assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant.
The board also held a closed session to discuss an unspecified contract and legal matters, including a potential legal claim.
See the full agenda on the town website.