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Cornelius News

Townhomes on Washam Potts approved in tense 4-1 vote


Feb. 4. By Dave Vieser. An updated proposal for 27 townhomes on a 6.83 acre parcel on Washam Potts Road was approved 4-1 Monday Feb. 3 by the Cornelius Town Board. Under the proposal, Blue Heel Development will build 27 single-family townhomes on 6.8 acres currently occupied by one single-family home.

The townhomes themselves will range in size from 2,200 to 2,600 square feet, have a maximum height of 26 feet, and carry a price tag between $350,000 and $450,000, according to attorney Susan Irvin, representing Blue Heel.

A showdown


Before the approval was granted, however, strong opposition to the rezoning request was voiced by a dozen speakers from the surrounding neighborhood, former Commissioner Dave Gilroy and, surprisingly, Commissioner Jim Duke.

Duke came 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 strip of property between two residential subdivisions, I take exception,” he said.

“Twenty-seven townhomes being shoe-horned in between those residential properties fails the ‘sniff’ test in my view,” Duke said.

Houses along Washam Potts generally sit on larger lots. They’re single-family as well.

“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,” Duke stated, suggesting 18 single-family homes and would be consistent with adjoining properties.

His concerns were backed up by former Commissioner Gilroy, who urged the commissioners to use “some common sense.” Gilroy, a prominent businessman, said the town’s land use plan needs fixing as well. He lost last year’s election, but appears ready to run again next year.

Perhaps the most dramatic comment from the audience came from Bailey Middle School Student Lilah Peters who stopped the audience when she said this: “If


you vote yes on this proposal, you are failing the people who elected you.”

Before the vote, Irvin and developer Matt Gallagher said they had met with the residents and agreed to erect a buffer zone, as well as siting the homes farther away from Washam Potts Road.

Irvin presented transportation information suggesting 27 townhomes would actually generate less traffic than 20 private homes.

Despite those efforts, the residents, polite throughout the hearing, went home unhappy.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

The town board approved the use of $272,400 in asset forfeiture funds for the purchase of two additional patrol vehicles, two replacement boat engines, and other police department needs, including training for the upcoming 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC).