Catawba River

High school plans in motion

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New Gaston school site has not yet been identified, but it would be in east end of county

Can’t wait for this site to be identified and the choice of name, colors, mascots, and whether a soccer field will be a part of the the campus plans.

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It is too bad that the county school board and the “educated” planners do not consider more urban models of school designs. These models would build on smaller land in a vertical format. The Belmont vision of “Town Center” could be accomplished, better park and community facilities such as baseball, softball, soccer, football, and cross country courses could be assembled in a workable plan that can be used year around. Of course, the school won’t be in Belmont and the new UDO of Gaston County doesn’t really address school construction issues, but it is worth a plug to keep up discussion.

Our coffee-klatch speculation is that the site will be on the McAdenville side of Lowell north of the interstate.  There is a 260+ acre piece of property that is owned by Belmont Land & Investment. It is adjacent to Lowell Elementary school and could made accessible from either exit #22 or #23 of I-85. But again, we just speculate…

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Program on Montcross project Dec. 13

The Belmont Chamber and Belmont Abbey College are hosting a program on the 1,100-acre Montcross development project on Dec. 13.

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(Montcross Development – Wilkinson Boulevard Side)

The program, which includes networking and refreshments, is from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the Belmont Abbey campus.

Project designer Bill Monroe, president of Charlotte-based WGM Designs, Inc, will speak about the project and answer questions. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Haid Ballroom with the Montcross presentation starting at 6:30 p.m. in the adjoining Haid Theatre.

Montcross is a commercial and residential project stretching along Interstate 85 from the Catawba River to the South Fork. The plan touches four towns: Belmont, Mount Holly, Cramerton and McAdenville.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on the property last year. Opening in December are Lowes Home Improvements, BB&T and Hampton Inn.

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As more property is developed over the next 20 to 30 years, it is estimated that 10,000 people may be employed in the project, which has been called the next Ballantyne.

Montcross is a partnership involving land owned by the Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina (founders of Belmont Abbey College), Pharr Yarns, Parkdale Mills and R.L. Stowe Mills.

There is no charge for the program, but registration is requested by email to info@belmontchamber.com or by calling 704-825-5307.

Observer article by Joe DePriest

Belmont council talks higher fines for water use violations

water-tap.jpgfrom the Tuesday Gazette:Belmont Councilman Irl Dixon said the city should consider increasing fines for water violations, if a higher level of water conservation becomes necessary.And that time could come as soon as next month, City Manager Barry Webb told City Council at its meeting Monday.Webb said Duke Energy told members of the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group at a meeting Friday that recent rain improved storage in the basin slightly. But, if the area doesn’t get more rain soon, Stage IV water restrictions could be imposed by mid-December or early January, he said.

“If we go into another stage, I think we need to go to heavier fines,” Dixon said.

Current Stage III fines for water violations start at $100.

According to city staff, some Belmont water users have been fined for watering lawns in the middle of the night. Dixon and Belmont Utilities Director Chuck Flowers said they have both seen several Belmont lawns that appear to be getting water.

“I know this stuff is going on. People are going out at two or three in the morning to water their grass,” Dixon said.

According to Webb, Belmont currently has the most restrictive ordinance in place for water conservation during drought conditions. Rules applied to the different stages of drought conservation vary for each municipal utility, though they all have the same goal of reducing water use by a certain percentage. Other cities in the Catawba chain have more lenient restrictions in place, Webb said.

“We’re probably stricter than anybody right now,” Webb said.

As part of the drought discussion, Webb said Duke Energy also presented a worse case scenario, projecting that usable water in the basin could become depleted by mid-March, if rainfall remains scarce. That means some water intakes in the Catawba chain would begin to lose the ability to draw water, he said.

That scenario is improbable, but just in case, Belmont is talking to the cities of Gastonia and Mount Holly about line connections to pump water to Belmont customers in an emergency, Webb said.

“If the worse case scenario happens, we’re going to have options to meet our needs,” Webb said.

You can reach Daniel Jackson at (704) 869-1833.

Blessed be the Riverkeeper

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Donna Lisenby, the Catawba riverkeeper, considered by many who live along the river basin to be a hero of sorts, has discovered and reported the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD) for “secret” wastewater releases.

WCNC and the Charlotte Observer are reporting that the FBI and EPA are investigating release practices by CMUD workers at the McAlpine Creek plant.

This water flows downstream and empties into Lake Wylie, where many of Belmont’s neighbors and friends live and play.

The reports, last night and this morning, coincide with a series of articles that the Observer is publishing on the Catawba River Chain of Lakes and its impact on the region.

We live in a fragile ecosystem that can easily be disrupted by weather patterns (drought, floods), development rates (run-off, sediment build up, pollutants entering the system), and over use (recreation access, draw down of water for municipal systems).

We are supportive of the Riverkeeper’s watchful eye, outspoken behaviors, and dogged determination.  

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Belmont picked as “Best Walkable Community in Gaston County”

Maybe the Gazette does like Belmont just a tad.

Front page above the fold article in Monday Gazette (10/29/07) briefly discusses what makes up a walkable community and which towns in Gaston are the best.

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(Mike Hendsill – Gazette Photo)

Unfortunately, the Gazette writers chose the Hawthorne (Imperial Mill Village) neighborhood as an “established” neighborhood. It is in reality, a new community (built-out over the last 4 years) constructed over what was once an historic textile mill village.

And that is just part of the overall landscape.

Imperial Hawthorne (the forward slash deliberately left off), or now commonly referred to as the Great Wall of Keener, is indeed a very walkable community — for those who could afford to live there.

The more established, and mature neighborhoods, such as Reid, Davis Park,  Mt. Pleasant, Cottonwood, and Adams Bluff, are even better suited for the tag as walkable communities within Belmont. Adams Bluff, however, being the only neighborhood with intersecting sidewalks.

Each are within the mile and a half of shopping and library. Each have low traffic flow which allows for some roadway walking, and the neighborhoods also have distinctive cultural diversity not generally found in the chosen neighborhood. Each are safe in relative terms.

We hope that the new in-town communities of Belmont Reserve (Belmont Hosiery), Eagle Park (Eagle Mill and Village), can and will be rated, because each of these will have internal sidewalks that interconnect with the existing city sidewalks and other neighborhoods.  

Under the Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) concept, and within the Neighborhood Preservation vision as outlined in the recent Comprehensive Land Use Plan, we encourage more developers and in-fill projects to highlight their plan for keeping Belmont a “Walkable Community” 

Pittenger property plans go back to designer

The Charlotte Observer gave an update on the development plans of the biggest land area in Belmont in last Sunday’s paper.  

pittenger.jpg State Senator Robert Pittenger purchased the land from Crescent Resources (Duke Power) several years ago. Crescent had years earlier voluntarily annexed the land into the city limits.  Pittenger now is planning to sell the land to real estate developers, “…from up north…”, accrding to the article.

This is a BIG test for the power of the Planning & Zoning Board, city staffers, and the City Council. As council candidate Richard Turner suggests, “…give teeth…to land use plan…”.

One of the Front Porch visitors, settin’ over in the rocking chair, has offered her opinions, some of which we had to edit out or she wooda been pickin’ out pricklies from her behind.

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Things came through like, ‘be careful”, “plan of action”, “vision”, and, “get people’s support”, among other things.

Words that politicians use, even in their own personal business dealings can and should be parsed. When Pittenger says, “that’s private”, he is saying, “there is no real buyer, I am trying to run up the price on my property”. The term “real estate investor”, means that capitalism is working at its best. But this form of capitalism affects the quality of life in a community he has never lived in, or spent the night in.  

We suggest that everyone should be wary about the term “property rights”, especially in this city election.

 

8 candidates seek 3 open Belmont seats (Updated)

That’s It ? , that’s all the Observer could write?            vote.jpg 

They are not “open”, they are contested.

Is this all that we are going to get from the City Council candidates this year?

You have to buy a copy of the Thursday (10/18)Observer to get more information. To be fair, there is a bit more information from the generic questionaire that was sent to all the candidates.

becky-burch.jpg Becky Burch: “…she would encourage the development of one shuttered textile mill to be converted into a nursing home…”  and this helps the tax rate how?

“Burch said council members have the authority to ask developers to leave room for these areas, she said. They haven’t made that request yet though, she said.”  WHY haven’t the council members made those requests – YET ?

We are not making this up – these are quotes from the Charlotte Observer.

irl-dixon.jpg  Irl Dixon: “While some candidates say they are concerned about high property taxes, Dixon said the tax rate dropped last year and he expects it to do the same in the future because of the development of high-end, waterfront homes”.

Does this give credence to the term “economic-genocide” that East-enders and South Point residents are concerned about? Push out the existing homes to build McMansions along the lake, reducing visibility and accessibility. This is a concern here in this community.

charlie-flowers.jpg  Charlie Flowers:  “If re-elected, Flowers said he will push for businesses to fill the now empty textile mills”.

Too Late Charlie !  Most of the mills have been torn down or are in the planning stages to be torn down. We cite the examples of the Belmont Hosiery plant – now, called Belmont Reserve. We cite the Imperial Mill – now vacant, and its mill village called Hawthorne. We cite the Acme – now the space for development. This site even had a viable park area that the city acutally refused to use (Woodlawn) in the late 1990’s. How about what once was the Belmont Dyers, now torn down with development plans for high-end housing. Even the cotton warehouse that Stowe Mills used over on Eagle Road (a perfectly good pre-cast concrete structure) was torn down to make way for the clear-cutting that is now known as Eagle Village. Not even going to discuss in any detail the tearing down of the Eagle Mill for $500,000 unsold homes across from Belmont Central.

rfoulk.jpg  Ron Foulk: “…61-year-old political newcomer said council members have budget responsibility…”.

He’s not a newcomer — he has run for City council in at least 2 other elections. He also opposed the Amity Acres annexation into the city in the 1990’s. How can you trust someone who will be opposed to future annexations.

curtis-gaston.jpg  Curtis Gaston: “He would favor a building moratorium, especially on large subdivisions.”

Once again, the Pittenger/Duke(Crescent) property is already under design – that’s over 1,000 acres of voluntarily annexed land. The city has had jurisdictional control for over ten years on this property and until it was sold to State Senator Pittenger, nothing was done to guide its development direction.  Young Mr. Gaston needs to be more involved. He has promise but will he be committed in the long run?

stowemanorlogo.gif Martha Stowe: “…It [the land use plan] doesn’t prohibit developers, it just makes sure you’re working in tandem with developers,” she said. “As much development as we’re seeing in Belmont we’re going to have to do something other than what we have done…”

So, what are your plans and ideas?

Richard Turner:  “…The recent land-use plan lacks teeth, Turner said, and developers have been able to build as they wanted using conditional zoning. He said the city needs a public facilities ordinance that wouldn’t allow growth beyond the city’s ability to service it…”

Dennis Boyce: “Did not respond”

We hope the BannerNews and the Gazette will expand these questions.

We find it amazing that wherever you see a Burch sign in a yard, there is a Flowers sign right next to it. If it looks like a ticket (signs), sounds like a ticket (identical votes on all issues before council), it’s probably a ticket. Vote for one, get 2.  And we thought that the politics in Belmont was “non-partisan”.