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Cornelius News

Building boom. Or bust? Major projects face obstacles

Greenway Gartens rendering

April 22. By Dave Vieser. During 2021, the Cornelius Town Board approved rezoning for 1,442 residential units. While growth in Cornelius is inevitable, the numbers are still astonishing.

Politically, the volume of residential units approved turned out to be problematic. Indeed, four of the five Town Board incumbents were not reelected; development was a major factor.

All of the rezoning changes were approved by September of last year, and there was some concern that work on the approved projects would begin soon thereafter.  However, to date, not one shovel of dirt has been turned.

In a March 2022 report on the business impact of COVID, McKinsey & Co. noted that “the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to rock the global economy. Following the shutdowns of 2020 and the supply chain challenges of 2021, another wave of disruptions is now breaking over businesses around the world: Rising input prices.”

Supply chain issues will impact many projects.

Alexander Farm / Photo by Jason Benavides

Alexander Farm

This mixed-use development was approved in October of 2020 so the 300-plus units planned for the former farm are not included in the 1,442 residential units approved in 2021. Jesse McInenery of Florida-based WIN development said they are targeting to start erosion control, demolition and grading in April. That still places the project about six months behind their original schedule. The reason: “Just the permitting process, mainly with the county,” said McInenery. “Not anyone’s fault, just a sign of the times and everyone is busy with limited staff. We’re all still dealing with COVID effects.”


Greenway Gartens/Caroline

The status of these projects remains unclear. No site work has begun to date. Numerous efforts to reach development officials for a project status were unsuccessful.

However, Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron did confirm for Cornelius Today that the developers for both projects (Northwood Ravin for Greenway Gartens and Proffitt Dixon for Caroline) had successfully submitted a plan for the dedication of the South Street Connector, as required in the town’s rezoning approval, within 90 days of the rezoning approved in September 2021.

Infrastructure lacking

Of perhaps greater concern on the timetable for these projects is the impact which may arise from a sewer capacity issue involving Charlotte Water. The specific problem involves a contract Charlotte Water has with the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County (WSACC) to receive and treat wastewater. As of October 2021, Charlotte Water has nearly reached the maximum limit and, therefore, has no additional treatment capacity.

To what extent the projects may be impacted remains to be seen, but developers have been put on notice.

Dividing line runs north/south

“Developments east of Highway 115/Main Street that are expected to have their sanitary sewer services drain to the east will need to pace their development schedule with our capital improvement projects,” said Charlotte Water (CW) spokesman Cam Coley. CW provides sewer services in northeast Mecklenburg.

Town officials know this problem could be serious.

“We have been in contact regarding our already approved projects and where they may stand in the queue,” said Herron. “Charlotte Water is working with these approved projects to discuss phasing and alternative methodology until the permanent capacity is available.“

Mayes Meadows, which comprises some 160 single family homes, is also east of Hwy. 115 and it too is potentially impacted by the sewer capacity problem.

Proposed Sefton Park development outlined in red

Sefton Park

Yet another major project facing delays is Sefton Park. The permitting process is at least four to six months behind due to COVID. This project includes a hotel, apartments and commercial units so it is quite complicated. With COVID and supply chain issues, site work is not likely to begin until 2023 at the earliest.

Junker Property

The approval of this project on West Catawba Avenue created major problems for some of the incumbent board members, primarily due to the manner in which it was approved. Only Commissioner Denis Bilodeau survived November’s elections, and many voters said his lone no vote on the issue was a factor. At the time of the vote, Bilodeau said “I’m disappointed in this process in that our citizens didn’t get a chance to look at the new design.”


The moratorium adopted by the town in December is not a direct factor on the timing for these projects. It did not apply to previously approved developments and, based on comments from the new Town Board in December, will probably expire by the end of summer 2022.


Is it possible that, with the delays in building construction, the timing of all this building construction might synch up with road construction in the future?


“Your theory might be accurate. To your point, the ideal situation would be for the infrastructure and roads to be completed prior to the new buildings. Staff is doing everything they can to keep NCDOT on track and ensure road projects are kept on track and on budget. While we can’t undo decisions made in the past, we will hopefully benefit from the irony of the delays,” said Town Commissioner Todd Sansbury.