Have Coffee & Conversation With Local Legislators on April 11
Here’s your chance to ask questions of and make suggestions to your local legislators
before the N.C. General Assembly convenes in May. Sen. David Hoyle, Rep. William Current
and Rep. Wil Neumann are scheduled to participate in a Chamber Coffee & Conversation
on Friday, April 11, at Queen of The Apostles Catholic Church Family Center, 503 N. Main St., Belmont.
Coffee and juice and a light breakfast will be provided starting at 7:30 a.m. The program will start promptly at
8 a.m. and end at 9. The cost is $5 at the door. Registration is requested by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, call 704-825-5307, or go to the Chamber website at www.belmontchamber.com.
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.
Both the papers are now reporting that a 1,500 bed federal detention center most likely will not be built in Gaston County.
We kinda wonder why our county officials had to travel to Washington “for discussions” about this project? Wouldn’t have been a bit cheaper for Sue Myrick and former Mecklenburg Sheriff, Jim Pendergraff to have visited Gaston?
The Gazette, ever hopeful for downtown revitalization, expressed an interest for an “ala carte” project that would be less expensive.
Seems to us that the project tab of $150 million fits into “Big Plan” Palenick’s vision for Gaston — right along with the laundry list of a “conference center/hotel”, restaurants, a hidden homeless shelter, and an $18 million baseball field.
This is leaving us wondering what sort of earmarks that Ms. Myrick is planning to dangle for us as her re-election campaign gears up. Our schools who qualify for Title I funding are shrinking even when the number of poor students grows. The estimated $1.6 Billion (yes, billion) “Garden Parkway” is still an apple of David Hoyle’s eye, but without federal funding and passage of a Toll Authority from the state, that will be out of his lifetime. Maybe he and Ms. Myrick could talk – surely there is still a bit of money at the bottom of the pork barrel for good ‘ol Gaston.
We thought you all might like to look through this check list. While we have a lot of things to work on , we all agree that YES, Belmont is very good already, and is “becoming” a great city.
This a reprinted article from Project for Public Spaces (PPS):
Is Your City a Great City?
Take a look around your town with this checklist, to see how it measures up.
By Ethan Kent and Kathy Madden
In Great Cities…
Community goals are a top priority in city planning
· Citizens regularly participate in making their public spaces better and local leaders and planning professionals routinely seek the wisdom and practical experience of community residents.
· Residents feel they have responsibility and a sense of ownership for their public spaces.
· Neighborhoods are respected, fostered and have unique identities. There is a sense of “pride of place.”
· Public spaces are planned and managed in a way that highlights and strengthens the culture of a particular community.
The emphasis is on pedestrians, not cars
· Pedestrians and bicyclists are more numerous than vehicles (on at least some streets).
· Streets function as “places” and have numerous attractive destinations along them.
· Transit options are available to get to places where people want to go and are used by all kinds of people.
· Parking does not occupy most of the public space; free parking is difficult to find.
· There is a walkable commercial center convenient to every neighborhood that provides everyday needs and services (grocery store, pharmacy, library, medical services, coffee shop etc.)
New development projects enhance existing communities
· New developments, both public and private, are designed to include mixed uses and to be easily reached without using a private vehicle.
· Developments are human scale and connect with places to cut through rather than mega scale, internalized and islands unto themselves.
· There is a mix of new housing types and layouts that allows and encourages people to grow old there.
Public spaces are accessible and well-used
· There are public places within both neighborhoods and downtowns where people can gather informally and regularly.
· Parks feature attractions for people of different ages and are used at different times of day; they are more than simply recreation facilities.
· The waterfront allows people to actually reach the ocean, lake or river.
· Amenities (benches, transit waiting areas, etc) are comfortable, conveniently located and designed to support the intended use.
· Negative uses or users do not dominate the public spaces.
· Both children and seniors can easily and safely walk to where they want to go (e.g. children can walk to school, seniors can walk to movies, grocery stores).
Civic institutions are catalysts for public life.
· Schools are centrally located to support other neighborhood activity.
· The library is a multi-purpose and popular place where people go for many different types of activities. · Civic institutions (museums, community centers, hospitals, government buildings, etc.) have resources and activities that appeal to people of all ages and all cultures in the community.
Local economic development is encouraged
· There are many locally owned businesses-markets, mom-and-pop stores, street vendors, and larger independent stores; these local businesses are encouraged by the city; people know their retailers by name.
· The mix of locally owned businesses is such that at least some of them are “third places” -places where people can just spend time.
· Local businesses work with schools to provide internships or part time jobs.
Public spaces are managed, programmed and continually improved.
· The public realm is managed to maximize community interaction and to facilitate public outcomes.
· Spaces are managed to provide opportunities for generations to mix.
Almost 3,000 new homes are planned, along with a 36-acre “regional” park, and an additonal 30-acres for an elementary school site.
It is great to see their plans, but some of the land reserved for the park and the school site are basically very difficult and expensive terrain to develop.
It is both a good news and bad news type of story. The good news is that they plan a long term build out of the project — 15 to 20 years; The bad news is that the road plan is also a bit questionable. It is relying heavily on the use of South Point Road and an unfunded “spine” road closer to the South Fork River, connecting with Armstrong Ford Road(Main Street) near Timberlake and connecting to the Garden Parkway.
We hope that this particular road is built BEFORE the proposed houses and towncenters are approved. If you think South Point Road is busy now, wait for this development to take off.
Unfortunately — well maybe fortunately — the state builds roads, Senator Pittenger has a very cozy relationship with the development firms around the state. We would not be too surprised if this “spine road” gets fastracked. As former city councilmember Irl Dixon once stated, the TIP ( transportation Improvement Program) had already designated that a road needed to be built and overlayed a road path. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan by the City of Belmont accepted this overlay, so all things considered, the road could be a go…
Hopefully, the funding will be forthcoming from the state legislature. We know that Representative Wil Neumann of Belmont is supportive, if not for re-election purposes at the very least.
Other good news on this project is the developer. Haden Stanziale is a recognized leader in large tract development. The project will certainly be first class. The bad news about this developer is that it contributes to the notion of economic cleansing concerns that many in-town and long-time residents have expressed.
When the property taxes on revaluation of property goes sky high two things happen. Pleople sell their property, or they can’t afford the tax bill. In this “bubble-burst” period of housing slowdown, both the resale of existing homes and new homes may help keep the tax values from rising too quickly.
We have a county commission that is very averse to raising pennies on property, but willing to hit the sales tax side for “good causes” — this is a whole ‘nuther story completely so we won’t talk about it right now.
Older Woman: Is there a problem, Officer?
Officer: Ma’am, you were speeding .
Older Woman: Oh, I see.
Officer: Can I see your license please?
Older Woman: I’d give it to you but I don’t have one.
Officer: Don’t have one?
Older Woman: Lost it, 4 years ago for drunk driving. Officer: I see…Can I see your vehicle registration papers please .Older Woman: I can’t do that.
Officer: Why not?
Older Woman: I stole this car.
Officer: Stole it?
Older Woman: Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.
Officer: You what?
Older Woman: His body parts are in plastic bags in the trunk if you want to see…
The Officer looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car and calls for back up. Within minutes 5 police cars circle the car. A senior officer slowly approaches the car, clasping his half drawn gun.
Officer 2: Ma’am, could you step out of your vehicle please! The woman steps out of her vehicle.
Older woman: Is there a problem sir?
Officer 2: One of my officers told me that you have stolen this car and murdered the owner.
Older Woman: Murdered the owner?
Officer 2: Yes, could you please open the trunk of your car, please.
The woman opens the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty trunk.
Officer 2: Is this your car, ma’am?
Older Woman: Yes, here are the registration papers.
The officer is quite stunned.
Officer 2: One of my officers claims that you do not have a driving license.
The woman digs into her handbag and pulls out a clutch purse and hands it to the officer.
The officer examines the license. He looks quite puzzled.
Officer 2: Thank you ma’am, one of my officers told me you didn’t have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner.
Older Woman: Bet the liar told you I was speeding, too!!!!
Last night’s city council meeting (January 7, 2008) was adequately attended by citizens and public workers.
The council approved the consent agenda which had a section dealing with the sewer upgrades in the “south outfall” area (near Amity Acres/Pinsto). An 18″ pipe would be installed that should be able to service a population of 35,000 in the peninsula area below the High School. Looks like the engineers are thinking way ahead.
Retired Firefighter, Robert Steve Hubbard, was recognized by the NC League of Municipalities for 36 years of service to Belmont. Richard Boyce made the presentation to a standing ovation by the crowd. Chief Altice took pictures.
During the public comment section, a gentleman who lives on Oak Street requested the city look into the cut-through traffic that people are using to bypass the crowded Central Avenue at busy times. People are turning down Harris Street (next to Charlie Martin’s house) and turning back up the hill onto Oak to bypass the stoplights at Myrtle/Central and Central/Main. He commented that, “…people are traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour up the hill…”. Council referred the man to Chief James for further discussion.
A representative from the Belmont Housing Authority updated the council on the Housing Authority activity. Council member, Martha Stowe was a member of that board, but had to resign upon election to City Council. There are two vacancies on the housing Authority Board. The mayor appoints the board. Mayor Boyce indicated that applications from interested participants could be directed to the Housing Authority. (P.O. Box 984, Belmont).
There was a text amendment to the Business Campus Development District. this would allow a business to have a drive-through window in this zoning designation as a conditional use. The purpose of the amednment was to accomodate Belmont Federal’s planned move to the corner of Planetree and Park Street (the old laundry/Backyard BBQ and adjacent lots) that were rezoned at the last council meeting.
There was a lengthy presentation and discussion to rezone a GR-4 piece of property at the river’s edge above the rail trestle to Business Campus Development/Conditional District to accomodate the Dickson and Whaley family requests to build a 42-slip marina and convenience store.
Piedmont Road property owners presented a petition to make sure that the road which is already fenced off at the old Spectrum plant, remain fenced off. Several residents of Edgemont were also in attendance and expressed concerns about traffic on the narrow roads of Edgemont, Linestowe, and River Road. Property rights advocate, Charlie Flowers, added language to the conditional use that no liquor be allowed or amplified music, except for special events. Once the property lines were established and the developer answered all the questions of council members, an affirmative vote was taken.
The photo above shows the property that was requesting a rezone. The longest discussion revolved around the section of the photo from the left of the flat area to the little “beach area”. Apparently city and county maps do not show this as existing land, or that the land is withing County jurisdiction. The store, boat landing would built closer to the River Road in the cove area. The aluminum-covered boat slips (42 of them) would be built in the foreground of the photo.
City council members also added language to allow for the development of a greenway along this property. It is unknown how that will work – property rights and all, you know. the drawing above shows the “added” land area under jurisdictional questioning. Longtime Belmontians know that the “added” land was ash and landfill over a long period of time. Many a great party was held in the picnic shelter and along the riverbank over the years.
The anticipated big discussion of the evening, non-contiguous voluntary annexation of 55 acres with proposed access to Lower Armstrong Ford Road and South Point Road was withdrawn by the property owners. The council voted to continue the public hearing of the project until the February meeting.
Todd Neely and the architect for the Riverfront Park presented the final master plan for the new park down along East Catawba. The Belmont Front Porch had previously reported that work is progressing with the demolition of the two houses just behind Dale’s. The final plan shows a boardwalk with a small landing to launch paddle boats. A lot of green space and trails. The island, being referred to as “Irl’s Island” or Gilligan’s Island, — in reference to former council member, Irl Dixon, who has championed the acquistion of the island for a long time — was now included in the plan with “nature trails” weaving through the space. Council was asked to approve the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant application for a 50% match of a $1,000,000 project. Belmont would provide $500,000 and the State’s park trust fund grant would match this amount. A detailed budget was provided to the council members. Council approved the grant application.
In other business, defeated council candidate, Richard Turner, was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee to replace Jenny Granson who had resigned. Only two people has applied for the slot, with one person being disqualified because they lived outside the Belmont ETJ ( go figure).
Council also rearranged their committees and heard from the various council members of their special interest concerns. City Manager Barry Webb reported that city staff are encouraging the development of a Tree Committee and participation in the Tree City, USA program.