you're reading...

Cornelius News

Planning Board, Town Board OK revisions to Alexander Farm plan

Aerial view of the 55-acre Alexander Farm site

May 17. By Dave Yochum. A request by Alexander Farms to increase a previously approved rezoning plan for 130 independent senior living units to 143 was unanimously approved by the Cornelius Town Board at last night’s meeting. Earlier in the day, the Planning Board had also approved the plan which includes relocating and preserving the tenant house to a prominent spot amidst mature trees at the corner of Westmoreland and West Catawba.

Tenant house is the jewel

Sharecropper/tenant house / Photo by Jason Benavides

Brian Jenest, landscape architect, called it the jewel of the project. Town staff recommended approval of the project.

This was the first public hearing under new rules limiting developer presentations to 10 minutes. Previously there were no limits on developers. Limits on public comments have been increased from three minutes to four minutes.

Town budget

The board also held a public hearing on the Town Manager Andrew Grant’s recommended FY2023 operating budget and one-penny tax increase. The General Fund Budget totals $28,369,890 (net of reconciling items, such as debt to be issued), which represents an increase of $2,378,678 (or 9 percent) from FY 2022 estimated year-end expenditures. The FY 23 Budget also includes utilizing funds received as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) from the federal government in the amount of $4,821,414. Grant said the ARP funds are not added to the recurring budget.

Several residents spoke out in favor of the budget, including the tax increase which would cost the owner of a $450,000 home $45 a year more.

“One cent is a small token,” said Bob Bruton. “It’s a good budget.”

Willie Jones, who lives in Antiquity, argued for more generous funding levels for Smithville revitalization to halt a “pattern of disinvestment.” Among the issues: Lead pipes, connectivity, flooding and affordable/workforce housing.

The FY 23 budget must be approved in time for the beginning of the new fiscal year July 1.

Cell tower discussion

The town board also discussed cell towers, in light of the 199-foot Cottonwood Tower debacle as well as what seems to be unlimited rights for utility companies. The Cottonwood Cell Tower was approved by three members of the previous Town Board, all of whom were voted out. The new board can “always advise we are not incline to approve any request that does not comply with our land development code.”

Towers are only permitted by right in the highway commercial and industrial districts where the town requires a one mile separation. There are no other zones in Cornelius open to cell towers over 50 feet.

Smaller cell facilities—under 50 feet—are permitted by right in the public right of way.


Speaking of by right, cable companies do have the right to dig in the public right of way, including Spectrum sub-contractors.

Commissioner Denis Bilodeau said they have no regard for the local landscape. “They are absolutely horrible,” he said.

Planning Board 

Long-time Planning Board member Hardy McConnell is moving to Mooresviille and announced his resignation.



“Cell coverage is paramount to all of us that use a mobile device. However, asthetics and how a tower ‘fits’ in a community is more important to me. I would not have voted for the Cottonwood tower.”

—Colin Furcht, commissioner