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Plenty of development projects are in the pipeline

Feb. 14. By Dave Vieser. Near the conclusion of this week’s Planning Board meeting, acting chair Joe Dean raised a question which has been on the minds of many residents since Cornelius Today published the “Projects Approved But Never Built List” in the February print edition.

The list contained information on more than two dozen development projects in Cornelius where applicants have received zoning approvals but the projects have not been completed.

“Is there any way the town can hold these developers feet to the fire”, said Dean, directing his comments at Rox Burhans, the town’s Planning Director.

Burhans said it was a simple question with a complex answer. “First of all, there are a distinct number of rights in North Carolina which flow to property owners. That’s because we live in a state which is known as a ‘property owners favored’ state. Other states in the country have different rules.”

What often happens, according to Burhans, is that an owner invests money in a project even though residents do not see any signs of work at the site. “That’s often what keeps these projects which were approved years ago still alive.”

Burhans said that the town has the “right to inquire whether the applicant has spent money on the project and whether they really ever plan to proceed.”

Said Dean: “This situation would seem to stifle development, but I gather there isn’t too much else the town can do.”

Burhans concurred.

“We’ve already discussed this with the town attorney as well as our commissioners. As I said, a complex answer to a simple question,” Burhans said.