Development to reshape Cramerton


The new development called Villages at South Fork  along with any earlier plan simply called Lakewood Village will bring 1,409 “upscale” housing units to the Town of Cramerton along with a combined 170,000 square feet of commercial space over the next 5 to 7 years.


Of course, this development impacts the whole area, and most importantly the school system and roads.

Hold on for this ride.

$2 Billion in construction and payrolls and 14,000 jobs projected for Montcross by 2035

Bill Monroe of WGM Design of Charlotte addressed a crowded Belmont Chamber of Commerce function at The Haid on the campus of Belmont Abbey College tonight.

Monroe shared the vision and master plan of the Montcross project that is expected to cost over a billion dollars to construct and provide jobs for 14,000 people, with an additional economic impact of almost $1 billion by 2035. Steelwood Solutions assisted with the impact study of the overall project.


The meeting was attended by local politicians, real estate agents, small business owners, homeowners, and “other interested parties” – namely four members of the BFP editorial staff.

The Abbey, represented by Dr. Thierfelder, Abbott Placid, Monte Monteleone, and  the college development staff welcomed the visitors and updated everyone on the recent successes of the College. Dr. Thierfelder reported that the Abbey enrollment had exceeded 1,300 students this school year. Applications for the coming year will push enrollment up to 1,600 for the fall of 2008. The goal of the college is to reach a maximum enrollment of 2,500 students in the next twenty years.

bill-thierfelder.jpg     abbot-placid-solari.jpg

Monroe reviewed the 17-year history of WGM Design’s relationship with the Abbey, by noting that the master plan has continually changed and evolved over the years. The partnership with the Stowe-Pharr-Parkdale was reviewed and how the Montcross Development came to be known.

He described each parcel of the plan in pretty good detail.


Yes, Cracker Barrel is interested. Recent changes in Cracker Barrel management have caused the operation to seek the property behind the Bi-Lo instead of next to the Hampton Inn. A medical office complex is planned for that parcel, explained Monroe. But there have been managerial changes so the Abbey is just waiting to see what they will decide to pursue.

Many “national chain restaurants” have inquired about the strip of land next to Nyoshi back toward the Wal-Mart. From the drawings, it appears that 5, maybe 6 parcels for restaurants are available in this strip. One restaurant chain was insisting on a parcel along Wilkinson Boulevard, next to the Handy Lube. However, that would involve rezoning the property from Business Campus to Highway Business. One of the main battlefronts during the Wal-Mart “debate” was the zoning ordinances and ultimate process of rezoning that was predicted.

Looks like this prediction will be coming to fruition in the coming months. Monroe commented that they would be talking to city officials in the near future about this rezoning application.

Monroe gave a polite tip of the hat to former council member, Becky Burch (who wasn’t present) by confirming that a cafeteria chain had inquired about the old Harris-Teeter section of the Abbey Plaza. That confirmation allowed a fist-in-the-air celebration by none other than Dot Martin, wife of council member Charlie Martin. Seems that someone’s agendas are going to be completed. Monroe pointed out that nothing has been finalized.

Rose’s was discussed briefly. Apparently Rose’s renewed their lease and business has actually increased since Wal-Mart’s opening. Monroe described that Rose’s prices are lower than Wal-Mart’s and that has led to a resurging sales tally for the retail anchor in Abbey Plaza.


Dunkin’ Donuts will be opening a section in the Exxon structure on the corner of Wilkinson and Park. Not a stand alone building.

He discussed the north section of the plan – the Parkdale section – the old Acme Mill village and Woodlawn Avenue area will become home to two and three story office complexes. The first is scheduled to have plans presented to city council in the first quarter of the New Year. Guess that means no park in North Belmont after all.

The far western section, the Pharr-owned area (just east of “The Slide”) will become a site for multi-family (apartments) and another nearby section needs to be re-designed after it was revealed that some of the land was once used for a landfill. Gee, anyone who has lived here for more than a few years could’ve told you what was in that area before you made pretty drawings of houses.

The section of Stowe land just west of The Oaks will house 4 and 5 story office buildings similar to the Ballantyne project and will be visible from I-85. So long green forested interstate buffers.


Land to the Northeast of the expanded campus will become a medical park, a senior retirement community of apartments and assisted living centers. The final jewel in the plan is a section at exit #27 of 4 story office buildings. This section alone will draw $400,000,000 of investment and develop about 7,000 jobs. Monroe explained that developers and the Abbey will build a road that would traverse the area from Hwy 273 to Belmont-Mt. Holly Road. He hinted that the Gaston County Economic Development Commission could also find funding for this road.

Monroe entertained several questions from the audience. Deposed council member, Irl Dixon was concerned over the A&W property and the Nyoshi/Burger King building. Yum! Brands, Inc. holds a long-term lease of the former Long John Silver/A&W building and is still paying rent to the Benedictines.

Sindy Maxwell of the Belmont Planning & Zoning Board asked about the land area within the Belmont City limits. All but the western section in McAdenville and a small 40-acre section in Mt. Holly below the Mt. Holly water tower, Monroe responded.

He noted that one additional small strip of land east of the Arby’s in Belmont toward the river would be used for small “incubator” types of office structures. There is space for about ten small buildings in this section.

A homeowner living near the now-closed Stowe Spinning Mill was concerned about what would be replacing the Spinning Mill. Monroe said that section was not part of the project and he didn’t know what was planned.

Overall, it was a good presentation, factual and to the point. Reporters for the Gazette, Observer and Banner were represented so we should be reading their take of the meeting in a day or so…These folks were seen sidling up to the principals after the meeting concluded, so we met in the parking lot to share notes. Thought about meeting at the Holy Grounds coffee shop, “serving Starbucks products”, as Mr. Monroe described, but decided that our identities were more important than hob-knobing.

Congratulations to Ted Hall and the Belmont Chamber of Commerce for exceeding their goal of making it to 300 memberships for 2008. They will have 304, and as Chamber Board Chair Paul Lowrance noted, “the fastest growing Chamber in the Southeast”.

Things to know about visiting the McAdenville lights


(Christmas Town USA photos from website)

Some of the nicer things about Gaston County are the “good traditions”, such as the McAdenville Lights. “Christmastown” has been a joyful tradition for 52 years in McAdenville, drawing people from all over the world.

A few years ago, Steve Rankin developed a website, Christmas Town USA, that has promoted vistor participation. This website has driving directions and walking directions that will make the experience a lot of fun and minimize the hassles.

With the redevelopment of the old mill town, worries circulated that Pharr Yarns would discontinue the tradition. That worry was put to rest as the new houses have been built and new residents have embraced the slight inconveniences presented by millions of visitors each December.


(Christmas Town USA website photo)

High school plans in motion


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.


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…



Cities urging continued water conservation


From the Charlotte Observer  


Staff Writers

In Gastonia, the city still has plenty of good quality water, but continues to urge conservation, according to Ed Cross, division manager of water supply and treatment.

The city, which has mandatory Stage 2 water restrictions in place, gets its water from Mountain Island Lake and supplies the towns of Cramerton, McAdenville, Lowell, Ranlo and Clover, S.C. Cross said between 80,000 to 100,000 people depend on Gastonia for water.

The biggest impact under a Stage 3 drought would be the banning of outdoor sprinkler systems for lawns, Cross said. All outdoor watering would have to be done by hand-held nozzles.

City of Belmont officials are asking residents to cut back or stop lawn-watering, and to wait to plant or reseed lawns until the region gets significant rainfall, said City Manager Barry Webb. Belmont officials also sent out letter to its top dozen or so water users, including Spartan Dyers and Wal-Mart, letting them know Stage 3 restrictions could be coming and asking for conservation now

Current measures in Gastonia have reduced water usage by 11 percent since August, Cross said. The goal under Stage 2 restrictions is reducing usage by 5 to 10 percent.

“We’re doing relatively well,” Cross said. “But if the drought continues we’ll have to reassess things.”

His biggest concern for a Stage 4 emergency would be going to a water allocation program for residences and businesses.

“That would be phenomenally complicated,” Cross said. “But what else can you do?”

Cramerton hopes to turn loss of industry into economic gain

Gazette Article reporting that the Eagle Mountain Finishing Millis closing. It is located at Eagle Road and Eastwood Drive on the Belmont-Cramerton limits line.


Speculator/Developer, Mark Godley of Charlotte, trying to keep his investment listed as a “hot property” says that there is a “suspect” that will be bring 250 jobs and $75 million of investment to the huge “big box”.


It is difficult to believe.

We hope Cramerton town officials and the developers from the Eagle Park project, just across the street, have all participated in any of Mr. Godley’s discussions. Cramerton Town Manager Michael Peoples, said, “…having Eagle Mountain close will mean $25,000 lost in tax revenue.”  (Notice he didn’t say, Per Year, ??)

Sounds like “government-speak”  for water rate increases to us —

This property also borders the proposed Belmont-Mt. Holly Connector road. Belmont officials are pinning a lot of development hopes on the success of an additional spine artery down the Belmont Peninsula.

Let’s just say everyone is smart enough to have discussed this, and the artery south is just what a warehousing business needs to connect to the Garden Parkway and make connections to I-485 and I-77 for south and east. North to an intersection at I-85 is also a possibility. It will still probably take a good 20 years to get these roads built. In the meantime, the Lakewood, Timberlake, and even Glenmere subdivisions will see property value decreases (from a decreased resale market and resistance to buy nearby this major road and industry).

But hey, we are just citizens, not town planners with Masters degrees in Public Administration.  


Congratulations to Coaches Biggerstaff and McDonald

On Monday evening, Jim Biggerstaff and Doug McDonald were inducted into the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame at the Gaston County Club.

The Editors of the Belmont Front Porch would like to congratulate each of these fine neighbors. Both Coach Big and Coach Doug served as positive role models and outstanding men for our children.

There was an article in the Tuesday Gazette about the event.