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Cornelius News

Final public hearing on plans for apartments/retail is Monday at Town Hall

Jake Palillo

June 4. By Dave Vieser. The final public hearing on a controversial rezoning request to build a five-story mixed use complex on West Catawba Avenue will be conducted Monday June 7 beginning at 5 pm at Cornelius Town Hall. The project, proposed by veteran Mecklenburg builder Jake Palillo, has generated considerable opposition.

The project, which includes 252 apartments, is just east of the Wher-Rena building, between Junker and Harborview.

Planning Board recommends ‘no’ vote

In a 6-0 vote June 1, the Planning Board recommended that the Town Board turn down Palillo’s plan. They expressed concerns about the project’s height and density.

Developer’s point of view

Palillo, who recently teamed up with Watermark developer Jamie Rolewicz, said members of the Planning Board are “a great group of wonderful people that volunteer their time, but in my opinion don’t have the vision for what Cornelius needs.”

“When you comment that the area doesn’t support four- and five-story residential units, that’s a problem,” he said, explaining that the town needs more density as well as a general clean-up along that part of West Catawba.

“They aren’t going to do that by chasing projects away,” Palillo said in an email to Cornelius Today.

He also said having “one group of people that live in a nearby community decide what the entire Town should do just doesn’t make sense.”

Without more rooftops, he said in another interview, Cornelius retailers will continue to suffer.

Anti-growth sentiments

Residents in the Lake Norman Cove at Jetton neighborhood have spoken out against the project.

“This is the same thing that happened to Jamie Rolewicz and Watermark. The surrounding property owners came out against him and said the same thing. Today Watermark is the most amazing project in Cornelius. It adds to our skyline and its what Cornelius should be. The Planning Board and Town Board need to see this value and see that our project will be another amazing project to add value to our Town,” Palillo said.

High-end rentals

Palillo’s apartment project on the old Junker property would target high-end renters, including empty nesters downsizing from neighborhoods like The Peninsula.

Watermark is a luxury condominium project with units selling in the $1 million range. With Watermark developer Rolewicz on board, he is aiming high.

Town planning officials said that Palillo’s “proposed rezoning provides a challenge for the Town to evaluate due to all of the moving parts of our process, our adopted policies and regulations as well as the proposed plans and options for consideration.”

Moreover, many of the residential complaints about the proposal focus on the area’s infrastructure, specifically traffic congestion, which by itself cannot be used by municipalities as a reason for denying a rezoning application.

What’s next

The Town Board’s decision on the proposal is tentatively scheduled to be announced at their Monday June 21 meeting.

The June 7 meeting is just a hearing; there will not be a vote.

The meeting will be carried live via the Town’s Facebook page and website.

Public comment

Comments can be made by email to TownofCornelius@Cornelius.org

In-person, with several precautions, including mandatory masks (even when speaking) and touchless temperature checks.