you're reading...

Cornelius News

Traffic issues raised over proposed child care center on Westmoreland

Dec. 6. By Dave Vieser. A plan to build a 12,000-square-foot child care center on Westmoreland just west of Legacy Apartments raised traffic concerns from some town commissioners and residents at the first of two public hearings earlier this week.

The entrance and exit to Vanderbilt Children’s Cottage, which will be on the north side of Westmoreland, will have to be a right turn in, right turn out configuration, according to Planning Director Wayne Herron. “This means those dropping off children must approach the facility from the east, or Highway 21 side,” he said. Parents driving from West Catawba would have to do some sort of turnaround past the facility—or drive through the Westmoreland residential neighborhood from West Catawba.

This brought out immediate concerns among commissioners. Commissioner Dave Gilroy. asked: “I would assume many eastbound motorists will then do a U-turn at Legacy? “How easy is that?”

Herron responded: “Not very easy. We would hope that parents would plan their trips so they would not be doing extensive U-turns on Westmoreland. Traffic in that area is much more than you might imagine.”

Traffic and lack of infrastructure for years and years of growth—with more ramping up every day—has caught the attention of town government in a big way.

Nevertheless, Herron revealed that the Vanderbilt proposal doesn’t require a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) based on both town and state DOT standards, though it will be submitted to the DOT for review.

On the positive side, the drop-off and pickups will range over the course of several hours, which should minimize the stacking of cars one might see at public schools.

None of this satisfied resident Brian Stack of Cornelius. “The Westmoreland/West Catawba intersection is horrible now, and the applicant is talking about kids getting out of school between 4 pm and 6? That’s the worst time to be on West Catawba. It often takes me several light cycles just to get through.”

Mayor Woody Washam instructed his staff to pass on Mr. Stack’s concerns to the DOT.

Zoning approval from the town will be needed for Vanderbilt to be built. 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.” They hope to open the Cornelius facility next 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.

Vanderbilt officials said the demographics of Cornelius—with two-income families—suited their business model.

Pursuant to town regulations, there will be hearings before the town Planning Board and Architectural Review Board on Friday Dec. 8 on the proposal, followed by a second town board public hearing on Tuesday Jan. 2, at 7 pm at Town Hall. The board could make a decision on the zoning change at that meeting.