By DAVID BORAKS
Cornelius commissioners on Monday voted 4-0 to approve an update to the town’s Land Use Plan, which will help guide decision making about future growth. The board also discussed renaming part of Country Club Lane, off Torrence Chapel Road, amid confusion over addresses on the disconnected street.
The board also approved two other planning amendments, one to allow park and ride lots in the Highway Commercial Zone and another to add recreation centers as a permitted use in the Industrial Campus zones. The board approved both on Nov. 18, but a second vote was required because the votes were not properly advertised.
LAND USE PLAN
The town’s Land Use Plan was first adopted in 1999. The proposed update has been under consideration since the fall, when consultants, planning staff and the Planning Board began drafting amendment to the town’s development policy. The plan is a guide, not an ordinance, intended to help town officials as they examine and approve new developments.
The plan would reduce density overall in Cornelius, but it calls for increasing the density in some rural areas. Among other things, it sets a new minimum lot size in the town’s low-density rural areas at 3 acres (an increase from 2 acres previously under consideration). The plan also bars multifamily housing in an area north of Bailey Road.
There were no changes to the draft map following the board’s last discussion on Dec. 16. But new language was added to the final text to assuage concerns of property owners on the east side of town, where denser development now could be allowed.
The new text expresses the town’s desire to preserve the rural character of the area. While the plan updates would allow denser developments, it says: “Applicants may be able to request and gain approval of the maximum densities noted, subject to board review and consideration of a plan that provides preservation of natural features and maintains the established character of the area.”
The update also revises the planning area along US 21/Statesville Road and rewrites the town’s planning map to promote development of the Lake Norman waterfront. Other changes since the process began include returning the Cashion property at U.S. 21 and Washam Potts Road to Medium Density Residential, and envisioning the area along Mayes Road at NC 73 to be Low Density Single Family.
The board voted on several items Monday, all approved 4-0, with Commissioner John Bradford absent. Here’s a summary with links to town documents.
- Approved the Land Use Plan Update
- Approved TA 03-13: Park and Ride Facilities – Charlotte Area Transportation System (CATS) is considering putting a new park-and-ride lot on Sefton Park Road, off West Catawba Avenue, in the Exit 28 area.
- Approved TA 04-13: Public Recreation Centers – The vote could clear the way for a future Mecklenburg County regional recreation center in town. The project is far from a done deal, but the ordinance change would let the county 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.
- Commissioners voted to authorize the town staff to commit bond funding or other money to help with the West Catawba Phase II widening project. The project had been on the NC DOT’s regional priority list for funding, but changes to the state road project ranking system have created uncertainty. The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization has asked towns to say whether they might contribute local funding to projects, in advance of the CRTPO’s Jan. 15 meeting. See more about West Catawba Avenue, Phase 2 on the town website.
- Capital Project Ordinance Amendment – With the project complete, the vote allows the town to close the fund that paid for West Catawba Avenue improvements.
- General Fund Amendment – The board vote to amend the budget for four items including a $5,500 ElectriCities “creative placemaking” grant, two small grants for PARC, and $3,025 in reimbursements to the 911 Fund.
- The board voted to appoint Gabriella Alberdi to fill a vacancy on the Cornelius Library Endowment Committee.
- The board approved several small property tax refunds
- Commissioners and town staff also discussed the need to rename a section of Country Club Lane, off Torrence Chapel Road, amid confusion over the locations of disconnected street sections. Residents’ concerns heightened after a Dec. 18 fire destroyed a lakefront home on a short section of Country Club Lane. Police and the Mecklenburg Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the cause of the blaze. Residents say public safety responders often have trouble finding addresses because of the disconnected street sections. (See Dec. 18, 2013, “Flames light up sky as house burns off Torrence Chapel”)