FROM STAFF REPORTS
Mooresville town commissioner listened attentively Tuesday evening as nearly a dozen residents asked them to deny a developer’s request to rezone property near the intersection of Perth Road and N.C. Highway 150 for a mixed-use development.
Residents made a strong case for denying or delaying the project, citing the “traffic nightmare” on NC 150, near capacity schools, and environmental concerns – and the planning board’s recommendation to deny the project. Several residents conceded the development was attractive and asked the commissioners to wait until after the long-anticipated widening of NC 150 is complete.
While a representative of a nearby homeowners association supported the project, other residents shared stories with the boar about sitting in traffic for 40 minutes during a half-mile drive to the grocery store and the dangers of making left turns on NC 150. They lamented the loss of more trees and the impact on Lake Norman and wondered how Iredell-Statesville Schools would accommodate the additional students.
Commissioners heard all of these concerns.
And then they voted unanimously to approve the rezoning for Alton Village, a Princeton Communities development consisting of 298 multi-family units, 47 townhomes and six commercial outparcels on 34.78 acres at 990 River Highway (NC 150). In a subsequent vote, the commissioners approved the annexation of more than 30 acres at the site as well as the extension of town utilities.
Commissioner Bobby Compton made the motion to approve the rezoning, suggesting that the increased property tax and sales tax revenues generated by the new homes and businesses would help keep the town from raising taxes in the years to come.
Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Qualls stressed that commissioners had heard citizen complaints about traffic congestion, shared their concerns, and have been pushing NCDOT to speed up the road-widening project, which has been delayed by state funding issues. NCDOT is currently in the right-of-way acquisition phase of the project. There is no firm date for construction to begin.
“Property owners have the right to develop property,” Qualls told the crowd. “Our job is to get the best we can” from developers.
Under the site’s existing zoning, even if the board had rejected the rezoning request, the developer could have moved ahead with “relatively intense” residential or commercial development, Qualls said.
Developer Jeff Cernuto promised “a walkable, bikable, vibrant community.” Although he did not divulge the names of prospective businesses for the development, he promised there would not be any smoke and vape shops, used car lots, gun and ammo dealers and pawn shops.
Cernuto also told commissioners that the development team would implement mitigation measures that would offset increased traffic in the event that the NC 150 improvements were further delayed.
The large crowd – the vast majority of whom opposed the rezoning – laughed aloud in unison at that suggestion. Mayor Miles Atkins brought the meeting back to order with his gavel and said such disruptions would not be tolerated.
As the vote was being taken and it was clear that the developer’s rezoning request would be approved, the disheartened residents stood up and began filing out of the Mack Citizen Center.
After a short recess, the commissioners moved onto their next agenda item – a mixed-use development project on downtown property that the town owns between Moore Avenue, Church Street and Center Avenue.