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60-day moratorium adopted by Cornelius Town Board

April 4. By Dave Vieser. Cornelius town officials have unanimously adopted a 60 day moratorium for subdivisions and development permits within  the “Highway Commercial District” west of I-77. The moratorium, which will run through June 2, was adopted at the board’s Monday April 3 meeting.

“This short-term moratorium allows the Town the time to study and evaluate our codes and processes to make sure we are doing the best we can to evaluate development and traffic in this area.  I am pleased that this Board is being proactive and truly wants to get this right,” said Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam.

The district runs along West Catawba fr​om I-77 west to the One Norman Boulevard area near Starbucks and Bank of America. Knox Road is the northern boundary; Sefton Park, where the CATS station is being built, is the southern boundary.

The district includes what’s called the Hannaford site, a large parcel of undeveloped land between Knox Road and West Catawba. Cornelius Today has learned that developers are interested in breaking the property up so that it can be developed outside of review by the Town Board.

Planning Director Wayne Herron said the moratorium stems from ​planned NC​DOT ​improvements at the Torrence Chapel/West Catawba intersection. That ​plan, which was reviewed at the previous board meeting on March 20, would retain left turns until traffic volumes increased beyond certain pre-determined levels.

Washam said he heard “overwhelmingly” from citizens that left turns at Torrence Chapel and West Catawba are critical.

With NCDOT putting an emphasis on average daily traffic counts—in time, the NCDOT ultimately plans to eliminate left turns—the Town aims to “scrutinize development and the associated traffic impacts in this area very carefully,” Washam said. At issue is whether existing land development regulations could be strengthened or crafted in a manner that may allow the town to better manage the growth and traffic in a key commercial corridor that is bounded by residential to the north.

Town Commissioner Jim Duke said a moratorium would be a short “rest” period in order to allow the board and staff to assess the impact of traffic upon the DDI and the Torrence Chapel intersection.

Herron said there are 75 properties covered by the moratorium and that notifications to all owners would be sent out starting Tuesday April 4. The only comment from the town board during the public hearing was from Commissioner Dave Gilroy, who said that he felt the move “was prudent at this time.” No member of the public offered any comment.

The last moratorium in Cornelius was a five month moratorium adopted in February 2007, to allow the town sufficient time to amend its land development code.