CORNELIUS – Dan Houser and Robin Houser Tolbert made another impassioned plea to commissioners to approve rezoning for a proposed residential development so that their family could sell its property off West Catawba Avenue.
And after more than a decade, the Houser family got its wish May 6. The Houser’s own two of the four parcels that make up the 9.52 acres at 17201 W. Catawba Ave. that are slated to become The Retreat, a neighborhood with 57 townhomes.
“We’ve struggled to try to present a plan favorable to the town for 15 years now,” Dan Houser said, adding that his father is in his 90s and needs the financial support from the sale to care for himself and his wife, who has Alzheimer’s.
“This is in the best interest of the town, the best interest of the community and fits on the property,” Houser said. “All of our neighbors are in favor of this as it is currently designed.”
The Retreat originally started as a mixed-use development, but that design was derailed by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s plan to use part of the property for the West Catawba Avenue road-widening project. Tweaks continued, including a new driveway layout and cross-section requirements presented Monday.
“As private property owners you guys have every right in the world to market it and sell the land, but for me that’s not enough to approve this project because of the residential density,” Commissioner David Gilroy said before being the lone vote against the project. “I think it’s unfortunate we didn’t do more planning work to reduce the density to create a higher-quality neighborhood with more amenities.”
Other commissioners disagreed, saying the density is consistent with that of nearby neighborhoods. And while Commissioner Kurt Naas thanked the Housers for their service to the community and said he was understanding of their situation, he noted that he wanted to be sure people knew that’s not why he supported the project.
“I can’t recall a time that we had so many residents speak in favor of a development – it was overwhelming,” he said, later adding, “I am voting on the merit of the proposal. I don’t want to set a precedent that it was part of someone’s retirement or because of any individual, no matter how compelling the story may be.”
Bank, church rezonings approved
The board also approved rezoning for two other projects.
Representatives of State Employees’ Credit Union were given the green light to redevelop 5 acres at 19901 Holiday Lane. They will raze the existing Days Inn building to construct an 8,500-square-foot bank with four drive-through lanes and an ATM lane. The facility is slated to employ up to 30 people.
The fate of the current SECU building on the adjoining property is unknown.
“I just want to say thank you for tearing down the Days Inn,” Naas said. “It’s a nice looking project.”
Another approved rezoning keeps current structures on property.
An old go-kart track remains as evidence of some of the former uses of 20310 Sefton Park, including as Monkey Joe’s Party and Play, but the new property tenants don’t have plans to use it – or get rid of it.
Instead, Freedom House Church members will occupy the 11,504-sq.ft. building that was most recently used as a gym.
Police sergeant retires, officers hired
Commissioners and staff members recognized recently retired Sgt. Jeric McCorkle.
McCorkle served the Cornelius Police Department since 1998 after serving 12 years in the U.S. Navy.
He was on the patrol and traffic safety unit before being promoted and assigned to the Criminal Investigation/VICE unit. In 2007, he became patrol sergeant and spent the remainder of the time as a supervisor.
Town Manager Andrew Grant also announced that three new officers who graduated from Basic Law Enforcement Training in 2018 have been sworn in to the police department. They include Charles Church, Joshua Murray and Chasity Hudson.
New fees announced
The board also approved the town’s fee schedule with a few price changes.
The surrender fee for the Cornelius Animal Shelter increased from $25 to $40 to match what the town pays to take an animal in and take it to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Control.
The Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Department also had a few rental fee changes. Baseball and softball field tournament rental increased to $175 per day.
Smithville Park shelter rental for residents has decreased for off-season rental to $15 an hour with a three-hour minimum and increased to $25 an hour for peak season rental. Non-residents can rent it for $30 an hour in the off-season or $50 an hour in peak.
The cafetoriums at J.V. Washam or Bailey Middle can now be rented for $41 an hour by residents or $82 an hour by non-residents.