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Cornelius News

Mayor casts tie-breaking vote to delay Birkdale Village review

This image for the office / retail building is included in the applicant’s proposal package. However, NAP notes, the imagery is inspirational for what the building could look like. A true rendering is not typically created until after a zoning proposal is approved and a design team hired.

Feb. 7. By TL Bernthal. Huntersville Mayor Melinda Bales cast the tie-breaking vote last night that keeps the Birkdale Village re-zoning plans alive for a Town Board review and vote in March.

The plans for a Class A office building and the parking deck that supports it with 450 additional spaces could have been put to a vote last night if the removal of 125-room, seven-story hotel and 350 multifamily units was not considered substantial.

Birkdale Village residents attended the Town Board meeting to again urge the board to vote no to the re-zoning request because of quality of life issues, traffic, parking and change of ambience voting yes would bring to the village and adjacent neighborhood.

Some argued a reduction in what was proposed to be built should not be considered substantial. The impassioned speakers wanted a no vote.

Board commissioners Lance Munger, Derek Partee and Stacy Phillips voted the changes were substantial enough to delay a board vote for 30 days until the March 20 meeting and, in an unusual move, to have the revised plans go back to Planning Board for review on Feb. 28.

Commissioners Dan Boone, Rob Kidwell and Amber Kovacs voted against the motion to delay a decision.

The applicant, DDRTC Birkdale Village LLC, submitted the revised rezoning plans to the town on Friday, Jan. 27.

Another perspective

Bill Russell, the CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, told the board Lake Norman needs Class A office space like proposed in Birkdale Village.

“We don’t have enough.”

Russell said when he visited Avalon, the $1 billion “urbanburb” in Alpharetta, GA, he saw just how well the concept Birkdale Village owner North American Properties is proposing can work.

“We can’t continue to look to the past to what Birkdale Village was,” Russell said. ”We need to look to the future.”

One resident dismissed Russell’s praise for Avalon, saying that project was built on undeveloped land while Birkdale Village is in place with an adjoining residential neighborhood.

Other residents debated whether office space is really needed, as many companies continue to have staff work remotely. They argued more workers want the remote option vs. going into an office.

Too much change

Nick O’Shaughnessy built a scale model, at left on dais, that showed the proposed office building and parking garage as white buildings, much taller than the existing brown buildings in Birkdale Village.

Birkdale Village is wrapping up a $20 million overhaul. The first phase brought in new restaurants and service businesses, while forcing out some longtime favorites.

Nick O’Shaughnessy, a resident who is against plans for another iteration of Birkdale Village, said the village didn’t need to be re-imagined, “it needed a Mary Kay cosmetic makeover.”

The retired English architect and semi retired commercial Realtor/ developer  said the renditions he’s seen of what could come aren’t ugly buildings, but the design doesn’t attempt to fit in, to blend into the village. He brought a model to show how tall the parking deck and office space would loom over existing buildings.

Others said the commercial space would be more appropriate in a business park setting.

Finish what you started

Residents on Monday night pointed to the unfinished aspects of the re-imagined Birkdale and said that should be finished before any more changes are approved, even though it would be years before construction could begin on any approved plans.

Two of the buildings that are unfinished are awaiting county approvals, a sometimes complicated and lengthy process. But both have tenants and leases in place, Mike Lant, senior vice president development at NAP, told the commissioners.

Residents said neither are secure and open to vandalism.

Other spaces need to be upfitted for a new tenant like the former Corkscrew Wine Shop and Bar and Nina’s Boutique spaces that will be home to bartaco later this year.

More from residents

David Schurr, another resident who opposes the plans, said when residents bought their homes, “we knew the zoning.”

And when NAP bought Birkdale Village, “they did, too.”

“But now, they want a change what we would have to live with,” Schurr said.

Resident Peter Romaniello urged the town commissioners to listen to their constituents.

“Growth is needed, but if it’s not the right quality of life and not the right esthetics, it’s not the right decision,” he said.