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Cornelius News

Planning Board: Words of wisdom from the planning director

July 3. By Dave Vieser. At the June 5 Planning Board meeting, Planning Director Rox Burhans welcomed the new members and offered some interesting advice.

“Over the next several years you will be reviewing and ultimately offering a recommendation/no recommendation decision on conditional zoning requests to the town board” said Burhans.

Rox Burhans

What he’s saying is that their decisions can last a lifetime, if not longer.

“These are very important decisions. If you recommend a conditional zoning for a project, you better be in love with that project because you are going to own it in perpetuity.”

He went on to say that North Carolina is a very friendly state towards property owners.


A few decisions by members of previous Town Boards cost some of them their jobs as elected commissioners. But in at least one case, a majority of the then Town Board overturned the Planning Board’s decisions. They were voted out in 2021.

In response to a question from new board member Colin Furcht concerning approved projects which have apparently not begun, Burhans explained that the town’s Land Development Code permits them to investigate the status of an approved project after three years.

But a zoning recipient only needs to show that certain steps have been taken within that three-year window. “And this doesn’t have to be visible construction. Sometimes there are things behind the scenes which have taken place,” Burhans said.

Upcoming votes for the Planning Board:

There are two conditional zoning projects in the pipeline at the moment: the Lightbridge Academy and the West Catawba Avenue retail project.

Both projects will be informally presented to the Town Board on July 15. Barring any last minute changes, they should come before the Planning Board in August or September.


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