CORNELIUS – An independent consultant’s report forecasts that the town of Cornelius would save resources and money and would grow in population more conservatively if the town adopts a proposed new land-use plan to replace the 17-year-old one now in effect.
By adopting the new land-use plan, the town could grow the gross revenue side of its annual operating budget – now around $20 million – by more than expenditures, tripling net revenues to $1.6 million by the time the plan is fully built-out, according to a report prepared by Seven Hills Town Planning Group of Marvin.
Seven Hills operates independently of the consulting company that helped the town prepared the draft new land-use plan, Chapel Hill-based Clarion Associates.
In other metrics, Matt Noonkester of Seven Hills on Monday night told the Cornelius Board of Commissioners the draft land-use plan, at full build-out, would also:
According to Cornelius Planning Director Wayne Herron, the new land-use plan achieves its savings and more balanced growth forecasts through a more “business-friendly” approach, encouraging more commercial development, which tends to consume fewer resources and produce more tax revenues than residential development. Herron said that would also be the intent of a proposed new town zoning ordinance he and his staff are working on to replace the current 1999 one.
Also at Monday’s meeting, town commissioners took under advisement several small suggested changes to the new land-use plan, which was drafted by Clarion, the town planning staff and the Cornelius Planning Board.
The Mayes family, which owns land at Mayes and Old Statesville roads that is currently zoned business campus, objected to the new land-use plan’s call for the property to be rezoned as rural preservation. That would limit development to single-family residential at a low density of 1 house per 5 acres.
The board also considered tweaking the new plan to rezone land near the Westmoreland Avenue overpass of Interstate 77 to business center instead of business campus. That move would block industrial development and allow a small amount of residential in addition to commercial.
It would also give city leaders more leverage to try to rekindle developer interest in the 104 acres in question. The land was once earmarked to become the $515 million Augustalee office-based mixed-use development that would have included a 2.3 million-square-foot lifestyle center with retail, residential and hotel rooms.
The town approved the Augustalee development plan in 2007, but it stalled when the recession hit, and was foreclosed on. Hopes were re-raised after Concord-based telecommunications company ACN bought the land last year for $7.3 million, less than half the price Fifth Third Bank had listed it for in 2010.
The leaders would also like to see the Westmoreland overpass turned into a new I-77 interchange, giving the city a second gateway to the Charlotte region’s major north-south thoroughfare, which is widely perceived in the town to be a key factor in the eventual development of Augustalee.
Finally, the commissioners on Monday considered slightly scaling back the new land-use plan’s call for waterfront mixed-use development in the Nantz Road area between West Catawba Avenue and Lake Norman.
The commissioners will resume its consideration of the land-use plan, and could give it a final up-or-down vote, at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave.
Click here for news of Tuesday’s elections in Cornelius, and Mayor Lynette Rinker’s upcoming announcement about her political future.