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Cornelius News

75 march on Town Hall in favor of Smithville revitalization

April 19. By Dave Vieser. About 75 people marched late yesterday afternoon from Union Bethel AME Zion Church to Town Hall, where they asked for the Town Board’s support for the Smithville Revitilization Plan.

The historic Black community just east of I-77 has suffered from neglect over the years, according to Smithville Community Coalition officials as well as community leaders. The plan is designed to address this as well as provide affordable housing.

Leaders have asked for $6.6 million out of the $9.6 million Cornelius will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA funds are a one-time windfall for governments across the United States.

In comments during the meeting, the peaceful protesters—both Black and white—made their feelings known.

Historic neglect

Long-time resident Ron Potts took note of the impressive prosperity in Cornelius, but at the same time said Smithville has deteriorated over the years. “I’ve seen houses torn down, and quite a few other homes boarded up. Our request is for equity for a community that has been neglected for the past 50 years,” he said.

Peggy Rivens sounded similar concerns. Her house, built by her grandfather, floods during heavy rain, a sign of inadequate drainage and infrastructure throughout the neighborhood.

“Cornelius has literally been ignoring us for 50 years. It’s past time, so take the money and spend it on these urgent needs,” she said.

Beware of voters

The Rev. Keno Cannady, pastor of Union Bethel, sounded a warning note, suggesting residents might take their sentiments to the polls next time around.

Sign of support

Mecklenburg County has already awarded SCC $3 million.

No decisions were made as the plan continues its review among several town committees.

Community organizers hope to retain as many existing and historic structures as possible, get sidewalks and wider streets, fix sewer-water issues and at the same time provide workforce housing that also allows current residents to stay in their homes.

Barbara Randolph holds up a sign that says $6.6 million not a penny less

In other action:

—The commissioners unanimously agreed to initiate condemnation proceedings so Cornelius can obtain property for a new Electricities Utility power substation. The 5-acre parcel is located on the east side of Hwy. 115 a short distance north of Bailey Road and is currently owned by CBD LLC  of Charlotte. It is a slice of a 49.5 acre parcel which has a total value of $1.46 million according to county tax records. The town’s appraisal and offer was $138,485.

“The Town made an offer based on this recent appraisal,” said Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron. A settlement has been unable to be reached, he said, so the next step is condemnation. The Town attorney will now send a letter of condemnation to CBD which will have 30 days to respond. If there is no response or agreement on a purchase price, the Town will file the condemnation proceedings and funds for the appraised value with the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Court. “At that time, the Town will own the property,” Herron said. The property owners can still appeal the value, but the Town will own the right-of-way and easements.

—Approved an expenditure of $59,600 from the law enforcement asset forfeiture fund to purchase 10 Tactical Vests, 10 Tactical Helmets and eight Ballistic Shields for the Cornelius Police.

—Expanded the Lake Norman Social District to the western and southern edges of Thigs located at 21232 Catawba Ave. The district hours will remain the same, noon to 10 pm daily. This allows patrons to freely assemble to consume purchased beverages from existing ABC alcohol permittees located within the District Boundaries.