Cornelius commissioners on Monday approved a rezoning that would allow a 5.9-acre expansion of Lake Norman Hyundai off I-77 service road in the Exit 28 area. The board also approved two planning amendments – one that could eventually lead to a new park and ride off West Catawba Avenue and another that could help the town compete for a new Mecklenburg County regional recreation center off NC 115.
The board also put off decisions on two other planning matters: a long-discussed update to the town’s Land Use Plan, and developer Jake Palillo’s proposed 26-unit Bailey Forest subdivision, on 65 acres off Bailey Road. Commissioners and town staff suggested that the Bailey Forest project should be put off until the board decides on the land-use plan, which includes a revised vision for the east side of town.
A public hearing and discussion of the Land Use Plan will continue at the board’s Dec. 2 meeting. At Palillo’s request, the Bailey Forest project won’t be on the commissioners’ agenda again until at least Jan. 6. (See more about that project in our Nov. 13, 2013, report “Revised plans for Hyundai, Bailey Forest coming back to board”)
HYUNDAI GETS THE OK
The yes votes on all three zoning issues approved Monday were 4-0. Commissioner Jeff Hare was absent.
Commissioners were pleased with auto dealer Rick Zoerb’s revisions to his proposed Lake Norman Hyundai expansion, saying Monday they liked the new plan’s three-building, office park-like arrangement. Zoerb had asked the town rezone about 6 acres along I-77 Service Road owned by the Blakeley family, south of the current dealership and near Kobe Hero restaurant.
The board last May rejected a previous single-building expansion, saying the project wasn’t appropriate at the town’s gateway. They also worried about how it would mesh with the planned Life Fellowship church campus on property just to the south. [Planning director Wayne Herron said last week the church has told town officials it will soon submit construction drawings for county and town review.]
So Zoerb reconfigured his plan, calling for three buildings instead of one, and aligning them at the road to line up with buildings on the church’s plan.
The Planning Board unanimously endorsed the plan on Nov. 11. And the Town Board agreed Monday. Specifically, commissioners agreed to rezone the site from Rural Preservation to Highway Commercial Conditional District. (See details and documents on the town website.)
The approval came with several conditions. Zoerb said he would build one building immediately, but doesn’t expect to start on the other two right away. He agreed with the board’s request that he not cut down trees on the site of the second two buildings until they’re built later.
COUNTY AND CATS PROJECTS
The board approved two Land Development Code amendments that could make it easier for two possible future developments.
First, commissioners agreed to amend the code to allow park and ride lots in the Highway Commercial zoning district. The issue arose because Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is considering putting a new Park & Ride on Sefton Park Road, off West Catawba Avenue.
Commissioners adopted the change, 4-0. (See details on the board’s Nov. 18 agenda.) CATS would still have to come back to the town planning department with a specific development proposal, but Monday’s action gives the county what it needs to consider buying the property.
Meanwhile, another zoning code amendment approved Monday could clear the way for a future Mecklenburg County regional recreation center in town. The project is far from a done deal, but the board’s 4-0 vote Monday clears the way for the county to try to acquire a site off NC 115 west and south of Bailey Road for a potential future project.
A proposed $27 million northern towns recreation center was among the projects envisioned in a county parks and recreation bond package that voters approved in 2008. That project and others were delayed because of the downturn in the economy and the county’s subsequent decision to hold off on more bond sales.
But with the economy improving, many bond projects are returning to the front burner. As envisioned in the original 2008 bond proposal, the county would build a 100,000 square-foot regional recreation center to serve Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville. No site has been chosen yet, and the three towns are likely to compete for the project. But Cornelius would be centrally located in the area.
A new recreation center could have “multiple sport courts, fitness areas, indoor walking track, performing arts/multi-use classrooms, meeting rooms, staff offices, concession areas,” according to the county proposal. The county currently doesn’t have any recreation centers north of the Mallard Creek Recreation Center in the university area.
Monday’s vote added public recreation centers of at least 50,000 square feet as a permitted use in the Industrial Campus zoning district. The county is looking at a 43-acre site west of Bailey Road currenty owned by Charlotte investor J. Smith Freeman and Cotton’s Cove LLC.
The board went into closed session at the meeting’s end to discuss an unspecified “economic development opportunity.”
See the full agenda and related documents on the town website.