you're reading...

Cornelius News

Town board splits 3-2 over Westmoreland rezoning

Jan. 3. The new Cornelius Town Board demonstrated their ability to make sausage from the dais at Tuesday’s meeting: A majority approved a complex rezoning resolution in favor of a childcare center proposed on Westmoreland by a 3-2 margin. The approval is contingent on the applicant, Vanderbilt Children’s College, meeting close to a dozen conditions, some created by the board during the meeting.

The 12,000 square-foot project was approved after close to two hours of public testimony. Most residents who spoke were against the proposal due to traffic concerns. It’s just west of the Legacy Apartments and backs up to the Westmoreland neighborhood, with some 300 homes.


Like many development issues facing Cornelius, the debate centered on traffic.

The North Cross Drive Extension project requires a left-turn lane directly in front of the proposed School. Due to this turn lane, a median or bollards will be required by NCDOT to prohibit left turns into the school, creating a right-in right-out driveway for parents dropping off or picking up students.

“This will require an expected majority of parents to do a U-turn on Westmoreland Road or to cut through the Westmoreland neighborhood,” said Planning Director Wayne Herron.

That did not sit well with residents.

“There are many children in this area,” said Diane Coleman whose comments were similar to most speakers “All that extra traffic from the school will be simply too close to our residential neighborhood.”

Nevertheless, Commissioner Dave Gilroy urged approval. “We’re all concerned about the traffic but this is not a bad use of this site and we need to find a way to make it happen.”

There was some discussion about delaying the decision for two or possibly four weeks. However, Vanderbilt officials told the board they were on a very tight timetable in order to open this summer.


Gilroy’s motion to approve the rezoning with numerous conditions was ultimately approved with Commissioners Kurt Naas and Denis Bilodeau‎‎ opposed.

“My vote last night was not about the quality or merits of the school but rather I did not feel we adequately addressed the traffic issue and  safety concerns of the adjacent neighbors . We need to pursue options to address our traffic issues for this project as well as the future of the overall Westmoreland corridor,” Bilodeau said.

Naas said while there are “many positive aspects” of this project, he shares residents’ concerns that the right in/right out will encourage cut-throughs and u-turns.

“I’m skeptical of the stacking space for drop offs and pick ups. As I recall years ago, dropping off a toddler is more than a one-minute process. In those aspects, I thought we could have done better,” Naas said.


One of the conditions requires that the town’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) issue approval for the project—something which is usually done before the town board renders a decision.

The developers of Vanderbilt Children’s Cottage says the market for childcare is just right in Cornelius where there is an abundance of two-income families. Their mission is to operate “high‐quality child learning and care centers, serving children up to 6 years, promoting behavioral and intellectual development in an innovative, safe, inviting and engaging atmosphere.”

Vanderbilt officials plan to open the Cornelius facility this summer, followed by 2‐4 new facilities per year in target markets throughout the southeastern US including Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Charleston, West Palm Beach and Atlanta.