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Cornelius News

Meet your 2021 candidates for Town Board

Five of these people will decide what you pay in property taxes, which buildings get built, whether first responders get raises.

Those are among the duties of Town Commissioners.

We asked them two questions this month:

• What are your Top 5 priorities regarding the town?

• With the town’s overall growth rate slowing, what levels and types of growth or development would you support?

Local elections are non-partisan, but former commissioners have soared to higher office, most notably US Sen. Thom Tillis who launched his career on the Cornelius Town  Board.

>> We’ll have Part 2 next month, with additional coverage online.


Denis Bilodeau

Independent Insurance Agent

Watercraft Pl.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

My priorities are based on feedback from the recently completed citizen’s survey.

• Support our first responders and actions that promote safety

• Accelerate traffic improvement projects whenever possible

• Approve new development that has citizen support and appropriate infrastructure

• Continue to develop and maintain our greenways and parks

• Conservative budgeting resulting in a responsible but low tax rate

Support for Growth and Development

Cornelius has limited available land left for new development opportunities. That is why it is imperative that we select projects that are desired by our citizens and have infrastructure improvements in place or on the way. The recently completed census confirms our town’s slow growth with a meager population increase of approximately 500 per year over the past ten years. We must consider the trend towards work at home, shopping via the internet , the desire to walk/ bike around town and the need for affordable housing.  When we look at residential/commercial mix… we should not position our future by looking in the rear view mirror. I support the Cain Center, a new hospital and mix use projects that include green space to enhance the quality of life for our citizens.


Jim Duke

Retired Army, Civil Service

Staysail Ct.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Grow a Full Time Professional Fire Department over 5 years

• Fund Robust Park Maintenance and Improvements

• Return to Fulsome Road Repair and Maintenance [limit patching]

• Put Housing Density Only Where Roads Can Accommodate It

• Keep Taxes as Low as Possible and Budget Responsibly

Support for Growth and Development

With the Town’s overall growth rate slowing down, what levels of growth or development would you support?

While perhaps the rate of growth is slowing, we are still growing and developers are relying upon density to accommodate limited space availability.  We must keep density where it can be accommodated not accommodate density.  Rural preservation is essential, and the rights and concerns of current residents must be respected.  There is also a need to provide some affordable housing, but that effort needs serious study and integrated into the community not concentrated in pockets.  Commercial development including hotels and fine dining complement our lake side environment but needs to be coordinated with road improvement projects over the next few years.  We want neighboring towns to come to Cornelius to dine, not the other way around.


Colin Furcht

Solutions Consultant at Resmed

Schooner Dr.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• INFRASTRUCTURE: Continue to drive shorter NCDOT timelines

• GROWTH: Reasonable, manageable growth that fits best

• PUBLIC SAFETY: On-going support of police, fire, town employees

• INNOVATION: New ideas to bring higher paying jobs

• QUALITY OF LIFE: Focus on better work life balance opportunities

Support for Growth and Development

I feel that our focus on residential building needs to be non apartment properties. Single family/townhome/condo communities do not push infrastructure as much as apartments do. Establishing a path for younger families to build and own their own home is better for them and better for the community. Ownership is key to financial freedom. My goal is to limit new apartment complexes and work more closely with developers on smaller, more affordable housing and mixed-use business proposals. By adding more opportunities to spend Cornelius dollars in Cornelius is better for the whole town. Our current approved growth rate is around 8% but with 82% of Cornelius being residential, that skews our growth away from business, commercial, industrial, etc. We need more places to work and play.


Dave Gilroy

Small Business Owner

Torrence Chapel Rd.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Avoid over-crowding. Less high-density residential growth.

• Disciplined budgeting – Avoid over-spending, no tax increases

• Complete major road-building projects (including I-77 shoulders)

• Outstanding neighborhood schools (I have 4 CMS daughters)

• New, self-supporting Arts Center.

Support for Growth and Development

For almost two decades, I have pushed hard for four imperatives in shaping how Cornelius develops:

1. Constrain residential growth, especially high density apartment complexes. This is the most important thing we can do to achieve our vision for a distinctive town with an exceptionally high quality of life.

2. Facilitate high quality, job-creating commercial development.  We want to be a receptive/creative partner with private sector developers who are pursuing large-scale, high quality projects, e.g. corporate headquarters or lakefront hotel/convention center.

3. Preserve rural land on the both the east and west sides. We are blessed to still have large tracts of scenic, natural, rural land, beloved by everyone in our town.

4. Redevelop the Town Center, involving a wide range of initiatives over time, including residential re-development of gentrified/aging housing stock.


Michael “Dr Mike” Miltich

ENT Physician/Surgeon, retired

Nantz Rd.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Traffic, Traffic, Traffic!

• Public safety, and full time fire department

• Sensible development that preserves Cornelius’s character

• Housing opportunity for all Cornelius workers

• Quality education that is desired by employers

Support for Growth and DevelopmentCornelius Mission Statement says our town is a welcoming community for all. Future development needs to reflect that goal. The Land Use Plan gives overall guidance, and allows for exceptional developments. Quality and unique products should be encouraged.


Michael Osborne

Founder/President of Shiptransportal, a Transportation Management Co.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Give voice back to citizens of Cornelius

• Reduce Road Congestion before 2027

• Create a Master Plan for Cornelius

• Citizens equal time to developers/applicants

• Safety

Support for Growth and Development

I would request a moratorium on all new development until we figure it out. To give us time to figure it out, I would require an updated Master Plan and an updated Land Use Plan be created with citizen input.

Since our Master Plan expired two years ago, we have fallen into dangerous pattern of approving projects without full consideration to how we can support them and how they will impact our schools, safety, and leisure.

With a new plan, we can take into consideration what the town can support in addition to what we want.


Thurman Ross Jr.

Realtor with Keller Williams

Burton Ln.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Keeping the lowest possible tax rate

• Continue supporting Public Safety with adequate staffing

• Downtown Redevelopment

• Reasonable growth and development

• Traffic options

Support for Growth and Development

With  the town’s overall growth rate I believe supporting growth that’s reasonable and beneficial to the community.


Todd Sansbury

Area Manager-Exact Sciences

Queensdale Dr.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Limit/moratorium on residential building

• Address transportation issues and traffic congestion

• Increase green space

• Ensure safe community/neighborhoods

• Enhance road safety for walkers, runners, & cyclists

Support for Growth and Development

As a challenger to the current commissioners and previous decisions, I do not support more residential building. I do encourage infrastructure to support our current population. Examples include increased access to healthcare such as the new Atrium hospital; more entertainment and arts venues such as the Cain Center for the Arts; and increased support for our police and emergency workers. Most importantly, we need to protect our environment. I support the development of more green space, continued protection of our lake shoreline, and increased growth of flora and fauna habitats. I want Cornelius to be as attractive a community in 20 years as it is today.


Tricia Sisson

Sr. National Account Manager with Brand Buzz Consumer Products

Delray Dr.

Top 5 Priorities regarding the Town

• Maintain Excellent Public Safety

• Accelerate transportation projects (roads, bike lanes, greenways)

• Keep tax rate low through sound Fiscal management

• Encourage quality economic development projects

• Enhance communication between local government and citizens

Support for Growth and Development

My primary focus is on sound economic development projects.  With the construction of the Cain Center for the Arts, many new opportunities are coming before the town that will enhance our downtown area and provide our citizens with new opportunities, including shopping, restaurants, entertainment venues and professional office space.  With that comes the need to manage new residential growth.  I have and will continue to work with the town staff and the development community to focus on mixed use projects that balance the number of residential units with the amenities our citizens are seeking.  It’s critical that we ensure growth in our town is balanced, managed, and benefits all the residents of Cornelius.

Next month, we have two questions for our candidates:

• What skills or experience do you have that justify our citizens putting their confidence in you?

• What are you the most proud of about Cornelius?

Is a building moratorium a real option?

Cornelius passed a five-month building moratorium in 2007 amidst concerns about growth management, infrastructure and “tax base imbalance,” i.e. the miox of commercial vs. residential ratables. During that time the Land Development Code was updated.


Here we are again, with growth issues a leading concern in this election. We asked Wayne Herron, assistant town manager, if another moratorium would be legal. Here is his answer:

“A moratorium would be legal in 2021, if all state standards for such a moratorium were met. Not sure if we could meet them all today since we just updated the Zoning Code in 2018 and are in process of updating Land Use Plan as we speak. In Cornelius, all subdivisions over four lots require Town Board approval. All multi-family approvals require Town Board approval. This is about as restrictive on the process side as anyone statewide and legally would be deemed as protection. You cannot adopt moratorium for inadequate roads or schools.”