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Cornelius News

Fog ahead: I-77 Advisory Group’s first meeting shrouded in mystery

Jan. 25. UPDATED. By Dave Vieser. The subject of the I-77 Advisory Group’s first meeting came up at the Cornelius Town Board meeting, and initial reaction wasn’t positive—it’s unclear where or when the first meeting will be held. It turns out it was held at the Lake Norman Chamber, and the public was not invited.

An uproar has ensued, and even former Gov. Pat McCrory has weighed in, saying all is not as it should be.

Earlier this year, the new state administration under the jurisdiction of Gov. Roy Cooper commissioned a fresh study by Mercator Advisors on the I-77 toll lane project. A key facet of this study was the formation of an I-77 advisory committee.

The date for the committee’s first organizational meeting has been set for Wednesday Jan. 24, but just a week prior to the meeting, the time and place have yet to be selected.

Commissioner Kurt Naas summed up the situation at the Town Board’s Tuesday January 16 meeting: “We know the meeting is on the 24th, but we don’t know when or where. And we don’t know whether the public is invited. As soon as I know, you will know.”


In other Town Board meeting news:

Cornelius has adopted and refined their operating regulations, to provide consistency with the town charter as well as to incorporate recommendations from the North Carolina School of Government. The most significant change will impact the town’s definition of a Town Board quorum. “We discovered that several of the rules and procedures last adopted in 2008 contradict or differ from the Town Charter, so we recommended consistency between the two governing documents,” said Town Attorney Karen Wolter. For example, the 2008 rules count all elected officials including the Mayor when determining whether a quorum exists for purposes of conducting business. Under this measure, four elected officials are required in order to establish a quorum.

Wolter recommended using the town charter definition which requires only a majority of members elected to the Board of Commissioners, and does not include the Mayor. Under this change, only three board members are needed to achieve a quorum. The revision was approved unanimously on January 16 and goes into effect immediately.

At the same meeting, the board also changed the process for calling special meetings. The 2008 rules allowed the mayor, mayor pro temp or any two board members to call a special meeting. However, the Town Charter gives that authority only to the Mayor or a majority of the Board, and that change was also approved.


The following members from the town’s Land Development Code Advisory Board were reappointed for another two year term to expire in February, 2020: Bob Bruton, Joe Dean, Chaz Churchwell, Karen Tovar and Laura Pegram.


Mayor Woody Washam, who held coffee chats with former Commissioner Jim Duke at the old Acropolis restaurant and then at Lake Town Tavern when Acropolis closed, announced that he will launch monthly coffee chats involving all commissioners the first Monday of each month (subject to holidays) at Harvey’s of Cornelius. The new chats, which start at 8:30 am, begin Feb 5t with Mayor Washam presenting a “State of the Town” report. “Commissioners will cover their goals and aspirations for the town for 2018,” Washam said. The Coffee Chats will be town-sponsored events—with free coffee.  Breakfast will be available for purchase.

Evening chats will be held quarterly. “This is part of our commitment to communicate with citizens,” Washam said. The coffee chats are a chance to casually ask questions and exchange ideas with members of the town board as well as staff.