Roads

“Keep It Clean, We All Live Downstream”

The new brochure given out by the City of Belmont Stormwater Management program. Came in the mail with the water bills:

belmont-stormwater-management-flyer.pdf

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(How a stormwater detention pond works)

Yes, one of the unfunded federal mandated programs that the cities were left to figure out how to fund and enforce.

epa-fact-sheet-on-stormwater-technology.pdf

Well, really, to be fair, there have been some funding “streams” from the feds and state that cities can “match” with local efforts.  

But, Belmont and other communities got most of it right by the use of Stormwater Fees and better planning methods to retain runoff caused by new development. Impact fees have also helped, but as much as communities raise those fees, developers keep proposing projects.

Good planning (which Belmont is getting better at year-by-year) and tightening the local ordinances are helping to slow the runoff caused by development within the watershed area of the Catawba and South Fork rivers. With urbanization — heavens, that’s happening here? — comes the effects that run down the street, into the sewers, and directly into the rivers.

Well, many of us purchased homes that have been here since back in the day… and like it or not, we need to help try to keep our drinking water source as clean as can be for everyone – yup, even the dreaded newcomers. Wouldn’t be neighborly if all of a sudden the new people in them rich houses started to get sick on a count of our grass clippings making algae around the intakes now would it?  

Go on back up in the article to read about ways we all can help to keep our runoff cleaner. We particularly like the suggestion #2, Washing Your Vehicle. the flyer suggests that we pull the car onto the lawn to wash, where the soapy water will fall on the grass and be filtered as it drains. It won’t harm the lawn it suggests. Well, what happens if you don’t have much yard? – like in Hawthorne or Adams Bluff – and, what about the ruts in the lawn?

Oh well, don’t have to worry ’bout that right now – we are NOT supposed to be washing cars anyway because of the DROUGHT. Oh, of course, it’s ok if you have an irrigation well though, right – Eagle Park, Graystone, Belle Meade, and Glenmere?

eagle-park-project.jpg     img_0070.jpg

Anyway, We all need to do our best to help the stormwater management process work — for our health, and for the health of our neighbors downstream as well.

Fun source of information on stormwater management processes, just click on the picture under the linked article.

$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.

steelwood-property-development-case-study.pdf

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

Can Walk Score Improve the Value of Your Home?

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We previously reported that Belmont has the best “Walk Score” in Gaston County, (10/29/07), here is another take on the impact of sidewalks and walkable community values from Realty Times:

Just imagine, your real estate agent is showing you a print out from the Multiple Listing Service of a home you might want to buy. On the sheet is something you’ve never seen before.

“Our hope would be that eventually it’s something that is in the MLS, where it says ‘Two bedroom, two bathroom, 1,000 square feet, Walk Score of: 80,'” says Matt Lerner, co-developer of a website called Walk Score.

While the MLS doesn’t yet offer this feature, creating a Walk Score for a particular property is a concept that Lerner and a couple of other technology colleagues (Jesse Kocher and Mike Mathieu) developed after realizing that how walkable an area is, rates high for consumers.

“We got interested in the benefits of walkable neighborhoods partially due to a nonprofit in Seattle called the Sightline Institute which had done so much writing on all the benefits of walking,” says Lerner.

Lerner says some of the benefits were obvious, such as walking is good exercise and helps to reduce environmental pollution.

“But then there were some non-obvious benefits, such as walking is really good for communities because you’re out in your neighborhood, you’re talking to people, you’re meeting people. Walkable neighborhoods are also good for local businesses because, rather than driving to one place, you can stop and walk around and look at all the little stores. So it’s a good way to support local businesses and local culture too,” says Lerner.

So the developers set out to create a website that measures the walking score for home locations. Walk Score.com launched in the summer and in just four weeks got one million visitors wanting to know a property’s Walk Score. Using Google Maps and business listings, the site computes a Walk Score for any address in the United States and Canada. It bases the points assigned on the distance to local amenities and then averages the score. Then for the fun of it, visitors can compare their scores to that of famous locations and people such as Bill Gate’s house, Fenway Park or Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt’s (pre-divorce) home.

Lerner says that since the site launched they have received lots of emails from users saying that walkability is the number one priority they focus on when buying a house.

“I know in Seattle, for example, a lot of people work at Microsoft, which is in Redmond, so they commute to work but, for where they live, especially if they have kids or a family, having things they can walk to is really important and then for younger folks being able to walk to a bar or a coffee shop is important. Walk Score is a really simple way to see what’s in the neighborhood near the property you’re looking at,” says Lerner.

However, Walk Score doesn’t take into account things such as lakes or other roadblocks that might force someone to take a different route to get to the destination.

“What Walk Score does is fairly simple. We measure whether you can get to the types of businesses that consumers want and then we base a score on that,” says Lerner.

Lerner says creative real estate agents and homeowners are using it to help sell homes.

“One of the really fun things on the Internet has been that people are comparing their scores and bragging about them. A big, new condo in Seattle put up a huge Walk Score banner on the front that said Walk Score 100 and they used that banner as a marketing tool because they think that, for urban condos, walkability is one of the selling points,” says Lerner.

Buyers are using Walk Score to help determine which house better suits their needs.

“We’re seeing people actually comparing different properties and if a place gets a low Walk Score, someone can say, ‘Oh, wow I didn’t realize I couldn’t actually walk to the grocery store if I bought this house but if I buy this other one, I can walk to all these amenities,'” says Lerner.

Lerner says real estate agents see Walk Score as another way to help sell a property and, “in a down-real-estate market you need all the selling points you can get.”

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.

montcross-development.pdf

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

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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More On Belmont’s Council Candidates

Two websites, Topix.com and GastonPolitics.com have had some interesting discussions about the Belmont City Council elections.

Many of the same commentary that has been found here, just repeated across the different blog sites. These are both in forum style and are in real-time whereas, this site has screened responses (called, moderation) according to the “rules of civility” found on another page here.

To review, the city council election has three incumbents and 5 challenging candidates for 3 slots on council. This is a 4-year position. The new council will be sworn in at the December meeting of the City Council.

How this election impacts the citizens of Belmont:

  • Planning & Zoning concerns are on the table with a need for teeth in the regulations and ordinances
  • Strategic Growth Planning is crucial to a patterned response to the needs of the existing community, which includes roads, water, utilities, etc.
  • Quality of Life issues such as parks, workforce housing, and recreation are focal points
  • The other issues that always present themselves, such as jobs, taxes, etc.

The Belmont Banner published a special on-line page, which surprised us here on the Front Porch. The BannerNews website must be in development stages… anyway, we are glad that this page was set up to be viewed by the public. Please review that page as well.

Encourage our neighbors and friends to get out on Tuesday to vote. With the paving project going on along Central Avenue, some people may be discouraged  by the traffic issues in the morning or later in the day. Plan out your Tuesday to take time to vote.

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Pictures of the Challenger Candidates:

richard-turner.jpg  martha-stowe.jpg  curtis-gaston.jpg  ron-foulk.jpg dennis-boyce.jpg

Pictures of the Incumbents standing for Reelection:

irl-dixon.jpg      charlie-flowers.jpg      becky-burch.jpg

YOUR CHOICE – YOUR FUTURE

Belmont City Council | Candidate bios

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This is an update from a previously posted article from October 18.

It was posted in the Gaston/Lincoln Neighbors Section of the Observer.

Note: Candidate Dennis Boyce did not return a questionnaire.         dennis-boyce.jpg

His bio and statement are linked here.

Becky Burch     becky-burch.jpg     Age: 77  Birthplace: Shelby.

Home address: 500 Hawley Ave.

Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: GED from Cornerstone Christian School in 2002; interior decorating and design certificate from Gaston College.

Family: Husband, Harold; two adult sons.

Occupation: Retired.

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 2003-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Attend Alexander Memorial Baptist Church.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-3028.

Last book read: “Refuge” by Dot Jackson.

Favorite movie: “The Sound of Music.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Billy Graham: “Because he had a positive impact on so many people.”

Why are you running? “Encourage and promote economic growth through development that provides jobs, lower taxes and water rates; want to see a closed textile plant remodeled for a nursing home; unfinished work like in east Belmont, north Belmont and Reid Community; I am proud of the jobs I have helped create in the past four years and I have unfinished work, like the Montcross Development.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:

• Growth; we need more city employees like police and firemen.

• Roads.

• Schools.









Irl Dixon   irl-dixon.jpg    Age: 57. Birthplace: Belmont.
Home address: 1008 Damon Point Drive.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in English, radio, television and motion pictures from UNC Chapel Hill.
Family: Wife, Trudy; one adult son.

Occupation: Broker-in-charge at Coldwell Banker-Black and Whisnant Properties in Belmont .

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 1999-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of First Presbyterian Church; past deacon and Sunday school superintendent.
How can voters contact you? Work, 704-829-7556; home, 704-825-2148; irl@carolina.rr.com.Last book read: “The Kite Runner.”Favorite movies: “Ben-Hur” and “Citizen Kane.”Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Theodore Roosevelt: “The man was amazing. He was a sickly boy who decided at an early age to challenge his mind and his body. He founded our National Park System, was shot giving a campaign speech but finished his address anyway, and after his presidency he almost died exploring an uncharted river in South America. I would like to know where he got his boundless energy.”Why are you running? “My family has lived in the Belmont area for 100 years. I want to make sure that during our current growth period the city evolves into a place my son would be happy to stay and raise his family. I don’t want to just maintain, but improve the quality of life for all our citizens.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:• Growth: “We just developed a land use and transportation plan. It must be given teeth and used..”• Expansion of extraterritorial jurisdiction: “Our zoning control needs to be expanded to the boundaries used in the land use plan to give us more control over the sprawling growth the county allows.”

• Buy land and build more parks and fields for our kids to use.








Charles Flowers     charlie-flowers.jpg  Age: 64. Birthplace: Belmont.
Home address: 307 Ferrell Ave.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Graduate of Belmont High School; associate’s degree in criminal justice from Gaston College; associate’s degree from Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute; bachelor’s degree in religion from Mid-Atlantic Bible College Seminary; master’s degrees in ministry and theology from Rock Hill Bible College.

Family: Wife Arlene; one adult son.

Occupation: Retired chief of police of Belmont Police Department .

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 1999-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Deacon and trustee at Unity Baptist Church; past president of Kiwanis International; Gaston County Law Enforcement Association; North Carolina Police Officers Association.

How can voters contact you? 704-363-6484; 704-825-9146.

Last book read: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Favorite movie: “Dances with Wolves.”
Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Sitting Bull, leader for the Sioux Nation.Why are you running? “I love the people of Belmont. I have lived here all my life and know what Belmont means to the people. I feel that I have and can continue to represent the people of Belmont well.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking: • Growth.• Schools.• Taxes.







Ron Foulk  ron-foulk.jpg      Age: 61. Birthplace: Mount Holly, N.J.
Home address: 101 James Drive.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: 
Bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University; master’s degree in education from UNC Charlotte.
Family: Wife, Frankie; two adult sons.

Occupation: Principal of Rankin Elementary School with Gaston County Schools.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of Belmont United Methodist Church; member of N.C. Association of Educators; member of National Educators Association; member of National Association of Elementary School Principals.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-2798.

Last book read: “The World is Flat.”


Favorite movie: No response.
Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Harry Truman: “I liked his idea of `the buck stops here.’ He had a sense of responsibility and could make the tough decision.”Why are you running? “There are many challenges facing our town: rising water and sewer rates, increased taxes, loss of jobs, increased traffic and over-crowded schools, to name a few. I would like to be a part of guiding the community through the period of rapid change. I want Belmont to be a quality community.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:• To be able to promote growth that enhances the community and has a positive impact on the tax base.• Budget responsibility — holding all departments accountable for being good stewards of taxpayer money.• Evaluating, maintaining and upgrading infrastructure to meet the demands of a rapidly growing community and work with community and other elected officials to address school and traffic needs.








Curtis Gaston     curtis-gaston.jpg     Age: 43. Birthplace: Charlotte.
Home address: 123 McLeod Ave.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in fine arts from UNC Greensboro.

Family: Single.

Occupation: Filmmaker, visual artist.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of Belmont Abbey; Belmont Historical Society.

How can voters contact you? 704-968-4772;
curtisgaston@gmail.com; www.curtisgaston.com.
Last book read: “Last Night of the Earth Poems” by Charles Bukowski.

Favorite movie: “Point Break.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Charlie Chaplin. “He’s just been my all-time favorite filmmaker. I just think he’s a very interesting person.”

Why are you running? “Each resident in a community should participate with their local government in shaping public policy. I grew up in Belmont and want to preserve its small-town charm. At the same time, I believe in the overall vision our current city leaders have and will help reach their goals. I support a smart and workable moratorium on housing developments.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:
• Sustainability, ensuring that Belmont maintains its high quality of life and high level of service by creating long-term, resilient and flexible strategies regarding a new economic direction and strong protection from over-development.• The need to create a new city identity.• Formulating a workable plan to make Stowe Botanical Garden and Belmont Abbey College more visible and important in everyday Belmont life.


Martha Stowe  martha-stowe.jpg  Age: 55.  Birthplace: Lincolnton.
Home address: 3132 Channelview Landing.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in math and German from Wake Forest University.


Family:
Husband, Sam; three adult children.
Occupation:

Math teacher at South Point High School in Belmont.

Elected offices: None.


Religious/civic organizations: Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Belmont; education committee; Connect Gaston greenway; Keep Belmont Beautiful, Botanical Garden Board of Visitors; Belmont Housing Authority.


How can voters contact you? 704-825-2683;
marthastowe@hotmail.com.
Last book read: “Building the Bridge as you Walk on It” by Robert Quinn.

Favorite movie: “The Devil Wore Prada.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: George Washington: “I would enjoy discussing `then and now’ with regard to life and politics with him.

Why are you running? “Many residents have encouraged me to run because I received strong support from voters in the previous election. I have good people skills, negotiating skills, and have no fear to speak out for principles. My interest in managing growth in Belmont began in 1994 as a result of my participation in the forum used to design a new zoning ordinance framework.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:
• I will work with the county and state to ensure that local schools and roads keep up with local growth.• I will work to control and manage new growth on the Belmont peninsula.• I will work to protect and preserve our quality of life (parks, greenways, tree canopy, public recreation facilities for all ages, fire and police protection and diversify the tax base).










Richard Turner  richard-turner.jpg   Age: 45. Birthplace: Charlotte.
Home address: 315 Dogwood Lane.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: Graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School, East Mecklenburg.

Family: Wife, Marie; three children.

Occupation: Import-export broker.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: PTO board member, legislative representative, for Belmont Central Elementary.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-3302; 704-685-3139, home; fax: 704-825-3302; e-mail:
richardturner@carolina.rr.com.
Last book read: “In Dubious Battle.”

Favorite movie: “The Homecoming.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Did not respond

Why are you running? “I would like to see Belmont’s growth managed better. An adequate public facilities ordinance will do this. Essentially it stipulates that a community cannot grow beyond its ability to provide services at the city (water, sewer etc.) and county level (primarily school capacity). Seek new revenue streams which do not burden the citizens of Belmont who now shoulder an excessive amount in property taxes.”


The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:

• Managing growth to conform to a vision of what Belmont’s citizens want in their community. I intend, if elected, to pursue mechanisms to maintain Belmont’s identity and quality of life.

• Taxes: I would pursue reviews of franchise fees and the implementation of specific revenue stream such as hotel and entertainment taxes to reduce the present property tax rate.

• Developing recreation facilities for adults and youth.