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A mixed brew of Barnhardt, beer and political intrigue in Cornelius


CORNELIUS – The Cornelius Planning Board passed – again – on Barnhardt. But they said “yes” to beer.

Meanwhile, Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker said she has not ruled out seeking a seat in the N.C. General Assembly.

Developer Jake Palillo agreed with an appeal by the board to delay his oft-repeated request to develop a housing subdivision called Barnhardt on a wooded, 62-acre tract of land he owns along Bailey Road just behind Hough High School.

It was the second attempt by Palillo, owner of Bluestream Partners, to get the board’s approval of the fourth plan he has presented to develop the acreage, which is now zoned for one house per 5 acres – lots too big, the developer said, to sell that close to a school.

This time around, he is looking to create a 26-home development with lots measuring no smaller than 2 acres each. The plan, which would leave at least one-half of each lot undeveloped, in addition to nearly 10 acres of wooded common areas, was delayed by the Planning Board in July.

The appointed board legally could not vote to delay the matter again on Wednesday, but Palillo could ask for a delay, which he agreed to do. That means the Barnhardt proposal will not be considered as scheduled on Sept. 16 by the elected Cornelius Board of Commissioners

After calling the meeting “a complete waste of time – again,” Palillo said he agreed to delay his request “because I’d rather bring it before a new town board anyway.” Several empty seats on the Board of Commissioners will be up for grabs in this November’s elections, including Mayor Rinker’s.

The mayor is rumored to be considering a run for the state legislature’s District 98 seat held by N.C. Rep. Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius), who has announced his 2014 candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Kay Hagan.

“I haven’t decided what I will do come February,” the filing deadline for the Republican primary for the General Assembly seat. “We’re just looking at the landscape right now.”

Both Tillis, who is speaker of the N.C. House, and state Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Cornelius) began their political careers on the Cornelius Board of Commissioners; Tarte preceded Rinker as mayor.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Planning Board unanimously OK’d an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance that – like a similar change earlier this year by the Charlotte City Council – would allow micro-breweries and brew pubs to be built in non-industrial zones.

The amendment, which goes to the Board of Commissioners for approval on Sept. 16, was fashioned after several microbreweries approached Cornelius Planning Director Wayne Herron about setting up shop in the Lake Norman town.

“Right now we do not have anything in the code about micro-breweries or brew pubs – breweries that produced less than 50 barrels of beer a day,” Herron said.

“We looked at what Charlotte has done, and what was done recently in Matthews, and we looked at the code in Asheville, which is home to more micro-breweries than anywhere in the state, and we took the best of what we found.”

The Cornelius code now allows breweries of any size to be in industrial zones only. The new code would allow smaller breweries to be in highway commercial, village center and town center zones by right. They could also be in neighborhood mixed-used zones with conditional approval by the town.

“We also worked with a lot of developers of micro-breweries and brew-pubs, because I am not a beer expert,” Herron said. “If adopted, we will see several micro-breweries locating in Cornelius. It would be good for business, good for the town, good for residents.”


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