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Cornelius News

Palillo project passes 4-1 at Town Board

June 22. By Dave Vieser. A last-minute reduction in the height and size of a proposed apartment complex was enough to get it passed at the Monday June 21 Cornelius Town Board meeting, but without an opportunity for further public input.

By a 4-1 vote, the Town Board approved the rezoning after developer Jake Palillo said he would reduce the project from 252 to 195 apartments, as well as move one of the buildings farther away from West Catawba Avenue to create more greenspace.

Jake Palillo

‘Quality’ project

“I believe the project is a quality project, one which we would like to see in Cornelius, but I do feel the height and density is too large for this area and I would like to see modifications,” said Commissioner Tricia Sisson.

Palillo also agreed to lower the height of two buildings to three stories and the other two buildings to four stories.

Commissioners Jim Duke, Thurman Ross and Michael Miltich also voted for the scaled-down project.

One ‘no’ vote

Casting the lone negative vote was Mayor Pro Tem Denis Bilodeau, who was concerned by the lack of public input on the last-minute change. The project has bounced around public hearings and received a no recommendation from the Planning Board.

Denis Bilodeau

“I appreciate the time frame concerns of the developer. But we have gone out to the public many times with the earlier proposal and now they have no time to respond to these significant changes. This procedure concerns me,” Bilodeau said.

Chamber CEO

Bill Russell, CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, attended the meeting and spoke out in favor of what’s known as the Junker Proposal, so-named for the late investor, Norman Junker, who assembled the acreage that included the Wher-Rena property next door.

Russell said Palillo is “passionate” about business and his projects. “This project would be a great new addition for this communiity,” Russell said.

Neighbor reaction

Nearby residents were not happy about last night’s vote.

“The Commissioners voted on the fly with changes only spoken by the developer, not in writing,” said Tony Grisanti, president of the adjacent Lake Norman Cove HOA. “It’s a total  disregard to citizen input.”

Residents expressed concerns about traffic back-ups on West Catawba.

“Why would we want more traffic added? It is concerning that traffic studies, tax revenue studies and quality of life studies (among others) seem to co-exist in their own universes and are not considered holistically,” said Chris Vasiloff.

It marked the second time in recent months that the Town Board has overruled the Planning Board, which had also recommended denial of the Mayes Meadow project. 

When all was said and done, Mayor Woody Washam, who does not have a vote unless there is a tie, directed town staff to “go to work and put this in place as directed.”