HUNTERSVILLE – Future movement of traffic through the western and northwestern sections of town will be different than it is today. The transformation of N.C. 73 into a wider and more regulated “superstreet” will be the primary change, but how and where new thoroughfare connections will be made between that highway and other parts of town remain (like the exact new route of N.C. 73 itself) unknown.
And that uncertainty generated the most conversation at the town board’s June 4 meeting.
The town has no role in deciding if a four- or six-lane, median-enhanced N.C. 73 will be built along its current route, or on a course that includes a southern deviation near the Beatties Ford Road intersection. That decision, by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, is expected late this summer with highway construction tentatively scheduled to begin within two years. But the town does have the authority to lay the groundwork for the future network of interior roads designed to link the western side of town to the widened highway.
The area destined for enhanced connectors is bordered by Gilead Road to the south and includes Oliver Hager Road, Ervin Cook Road, Hugh Torance Parkway, Birkdale Commons Parkway and multiple residential subdivisions served, and in some cases dissected, by those roads. Identifying future road routes that would provide connections without generating confrontation is the challenge, and it hasn’t been overcome yet. But it is a vital part of mapping out a long-range plan for the town’s roadway network.
At the board meeting, several residents encouraged the board to delay a decision until the N.C. 73 route is finalized. Others encouraged commissioners to endorse the routes supported the most in a survey of local residents. But the outcome of board votes on the issue provided the clearest evidence that no consensus has been reached.
Initially, commissioners were poised to vote on two plans (identified as A2 and B2 with the difference based on whether N.C. 73 stays where it is or shifts to the south). Commissioner Dan Boone made the motion, and Commissioner Danny Phillips seconded it.
But a substitute motion was proposed seeking a delay until more information was available. That motion passed, with Boone and Phillips opposed.
Then Phillips, saying “myself, personally, I don’t like any of the options,” suggested Boone and Commissioner Brian Hines be appointed to study proposed routes and suggest tweaks for board consideration. That idea earned a 4-2 board endorsement (commissioners Melinda Bales and Nick Walsh opposed). Boone and Hines are expected to deliver an initial outline of their efforts at the board’s June 18 meeting.
Also at the June 4 meeting, commissioners approved an agreement bringing the annual Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Business Expo to the new Huntersville Recreation Center. As part of the deal, the Chamber will hold its Expo at the recreation center, 11836 Verhoeff Drive, for the next three years. The Chamber will rent the facility for the event and contribute $10,500 ($3,500 in three annual payments) to the town toward the purchase of a $21,000 floor covering to protect the rec center’s wood playing surface.
As part of the deal, the town agreed to give the Chamber the authority to deny events similar to its October Expo from being held at the rec center during a period two months before and two months after the event. The Chamber had also requested the authority to deny use of the floor covering for other events, but commissioners balked at that restriction.
Walsh, initially describing terms of the proposed contract as “a direct poke at the Huntersville Chamber,” said he didn’t like the idea of giving an outside organization the authority to decide if something purchased by the town could be used for another event. He asked Town Attorney Bob Blythe for input, and Blythe agreed he “was not entirely comfortable with terms in the contract.”
Commissioner Mark Gibbons suggested references to the use of the floor covering be removed and the majority of commissioners supported the changes. The amended agreement with the Chamber passed 4-2, with Boone and Phillips opposed.
Assisted living center proposed
Also at the June 4 session, a public hearing was held on a rezoning request linked to plans for a 108,350-square-foot independent and assisted living facility between U.S. 21 and Interstate 77 north of Stumptown Road. Arbor Ridge at Huntersville, LLC, is seeking a zoning change on 18 acres south of the Charlotte Ear Eye Nose & Throat Associates building for the project.
The property is two separate parcels the firm wants to combine and rezone from Highway Commercial to Neighborhood Residential-Conditional District to allow for the mix of independent living quarters and assisted living space proposed. The plan is for the Arbor Landing building to include a mix of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units and some studio apartments.
During the public hearing, Bales asked Senior Planner Brad Priest if the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) representatives had been contacted about the property to determine if there was a different use envisioned for the property. Priest said he did received EDC input and determined that the site was not necessarily designed for industrial or corporate use.