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Cornelius News

Cornelius Town Board closes gate discussion

March 21. By Dave Vieser. Cornelius has adopted new regulations which will allow gated communities on privately owned streets. The rules, part of an updated version of the town’s Land Development Code, were adopted unanimously at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

The town’s Land Development Code has prohibited gated streets and subdivisions since at least 1996. But Planning Director Wayne Herron the “new regulations would permit establishing gated entrances for privately maintained streets if the communities so desire.” It remains illegal to gate a taxpayer-maintained street.

Gates aren’t mean to bring people and communities together.

“We’ve promoted connectivity and being an open, welcome and inviting Town,” Herron added. “However, neighborhoods are understandably concerned about safety, outside persons parking on neighborhood streets and travelers using neighborhoods for u-turns.”

The new regulations for gated communities include the following requirements:

  1. The entrance must provide room for stacking at least four vehicles as well as a turn-around to allow vehicles not entering to safely exit.
  2. The gates must allow passage for Fire, EMS, Police, and other public service vehicles.
  3. The community must maintain all components of the gate system in sound operating condition and each gate must have a manual release mechanism activated in the event of a power failure. In the alternative, there must be another method of assuring entry in event of a power failure.

Residents of Mariner’s Villas on West Catawba Avenue just north of Sam Furr Road helped drive the change in the code. Long-time resident Patty Kelly said the 76-home community is besieged with motorists doing u-turns or turning around on their private streets after discovering they made the wrong turn.

Herron says the town had heard from several other communities as well, including Avery Park, asking for gates. In the Avery Park situation, the problem is created by Hough HS students parking on the private community’s streets.

There are already some gated communities, including Preston on the Lake, which pre-date the 1996 regulation and have therefore been grandfathered into town law. They will not have to abide by the new rules.

Municipalities handle gated communities differently. City of Kannapolis spokeswoman Annette Privette Keller​ said, “We discourage them and ask developers for connectivity.” Nevertheless, Pine Creek​ and Highgrove are two gated communities in Kannapolis​ with high-priced homes set apart from the rank and file.

Huntersville has only two gated communities. “These gated subdivisions were approved as farmhouse clusters prior to a rule change which states that gates are no longer allowed in farmhouse clusters,” said Jack Simoneau from the town’s Planning Department. “All other subdivisions must front a public street.” He also noted that there are several minor subdivisions which front on a public street where the homeowners have decided to share a driveway and install a gate.

No gated communities are allowed in Davidson.

Does a gated community enhance a home’s value? “I’d say yes,” said Zeke Ward, residential broker with Allen Tate’s Cornelius office. “It would be a plus for most buyers too.”

A recent study published by the American Real Estate Society examined 11 gated communities and compared them to similar, non-gated properties. The researchers found that properties in gated communities ​sold for a premium of approximately $30,000.