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Cornelius News

Town Board unanimously OKs Smithville plan

Photo by Jason Benavides

June 21. By Dave Vieser. In a unanimous vote, Cornelius commissioners endorsed the Smithville Revitalization Plan at their June 20 meeting.

The 5-0 vote directs that the plan be utilized in conjunction with the town’s land use plan as well as other decisions related to Smithville, a historically Black community just east of I-77.

Details were reviewed by a number of town committees and officials prior to the Monday vote.  $3 million was set aside for the plan from the 2023 budget.

“This is a policy document and it’s really important because it’s our guideline, our direction in which we intend to move for Smithville,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dave Gilroy, who ran the meeting for Mayor Woody Washam who was out of town on business. Prior to the vote, Washam by remote video advised the commissioners that he, too, endorsed the plan.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said.

Organizers had originally asked for $6.6 million out of the $9.6 million the town will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act. ARPA funds are a one-time windfall for governments across the United States to assist with unanticipated and unprecedented costs experienced during the Pandemic.

The Revitalization plan is designed to improve conditions in Smithville, the historic Black community just east of I-77 which has suffered from neglect over the years according to Smithville Community Coalition officials as well as community residents.

Mecklenburg County has already committed $3 million to the plan.

Through the plan, organizers hope to retain as many existing and historic structures as possible, get sidewalks and wider streets, fix sewer-water issues and at the same time provide workforce housing that also allows current residents to stay in their homes.

In other action, the commissioners:

—Recognized the 100th anniversary of American Legion Post 86 on June 27 by declaring the day as American Legion Post 86 Day in Cornelius.

—Approved an increase in approximately 60 fees charged by the town for various sports and recreational activities. Park commissioners unanimously recommended the changes.

—Also increased is the hourly fee for renting the Town Hall Community Room, from $60 to $100 for non-profit groups and from $75 to $130 for profit-making groups.

—Appointed Lore Postman Schneider to fill an unexpired two-year term on the town’s Land Development Code Advisory Board.

—Canceled the first regular meeting in July in observance of Independence Day (July 4th) holiday week. This leaves the Monday July 18 meeting as the only meeting in July.