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Cornelius News

Showdown on Washam Potts project tonight?

Feb. 3. Dave Vieser. An updated proposal for 27 townhomes on a 6.83 acre plot off Washam Potts Road is scheduled for a final public hearing tonight Feb. 3 at the Cornelius Town Board.

A significant amount of opposition has surfaced about the plan, including sharp criticism from Commissioner Jim Duke and former Commissioner Dave Gilroy.

The site currently has one single-family home.

Duke has come out strongly against the project:

“In my years on the Town Board of Commissioners I have rarely taken issue with the work of the Planning Department, but on the issue of inserting 27 townhomes along a narrow slip of property between two residential subdivisions, I take exception.  The large group of neighbors


opposing the project have been both thoughtful and respectful of the process. These stakeholders oppose what is technically adequate under current Town rules, but wholly inappropriate for both adjoining communities.  Twenty-seven townhomes being shoe-horned in between those residential properties fails the “sniff” test in my view.  The Town Board is the last line of protection for these concerned folks.  I am reminded regularly that these folks are our bosses and have entrusted us to protect their interests from profit driven developers. This property could easily support at least 18 single-family homes and would be consistent with adjoining properties.” —Commissioner Jim Duke


“This is a real unforced error,” Gilroy told Cornelius Today.

“The entire neighborhood opposes this uncalled-for rezoning with only one purpose—to increase residential density clearly beyond what is good for the community,” Gilroy said.

Under the proposal, Blue Heel Development LLC would build 27 single-family townhomes on approximately 6.8 acres.

At the December meeting, Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron noted that North Carolina is a property rights state and land owners have the right to develop property as long as it is in accordance with local zoning and land use regulations.

He also noted that under state law the town can’t approve or reject a proposal based solely on the development of the land with townhomes rather than single-family homes.

Susan Irvin, an attorney representing the builder Matt Gallagher, said that, based on discussions with the neighbors a buffer zone will be built between the townhomes and the adjoining property. She also said that 27 townhomes would actually generate less traffic than 20 private homes.

Despite those comments, many residents pleaded with the commissioners to hold off on approving the application.

“We purchased our property on the corner of this land believing it was not to be built upon,” said Kevin Hurd.

Gilroy summed up the sentiments of the neighbors: “Just because our land use code says a developer can build up to a certain limit, it doesn’t mean we should approve everything right up to that limit.”

An updated site plan will move the first townhome south of Washam Potts Road ten feet further away from the road, but it is unclear if that will satisfy the neighbors concerns.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the commissioners are poised to implement a rare use of the eminent domain process. In order to reduce accidents at the dangerous intersection of Jetton and Old Jetton Road, the town plans to change the Old Jetton Road approach into a right turn only movement.

This can be done by installing a concrete median and signage that will not allow left or straight movements.

In order to install this median, the Town has been seeking to acquire property from Kimco, which owns the Jetton Village (Harris Teeter) Shopping Center. However, the town and Kimco have been unable to agree on the property acquisition. The town board will vote up or down to start the eminent domain process.

The meeting starts at 7pm in Town Hall.