By DAVID BORAKS
CommunityOne Bank’s lawsuit against the town of Davidson over a 2011 rezoning is about to go away. The Town Board agenda published late Friday includes a public hearing and vote on a proposed settlement of the lawsuit, which had sought to overturn the board’s rezoning of the former Davidson East site off N.C. 73. Meanwhile, the board on Tuesday also will revive a two-year-old proposal to ask voters to lengthen board members’ terms to four years in a November referendum.
Tuesday is primary runoff day, so the election will occupy Town Hall. The board has moved the meeting to Community School of Davidson High School, 404 Armour Street, at 6 p.m.
Last November, on the eve of the Town Board election, CommunityOne Bank sued the town over a the Sept. 2011 rezoning of the bank-owned 180-acre former parcel off N.C. 73. The bank asked the court to invalidate the zoning, saying it took away its right to develop the property under a 2007 master plan. The bank also accused the town of procedural errors and argued that the rezoning is not economically viable.
Since then, the bank has found a developer for a portion of the site: It is selling 23 acres to Carolinas HealthCare System for a behavioral health hospital.
The board had looked at an earlier version of the settlement in a June 26 closed session, but did not take a vote. The settlement is now back and the board is expected to accept it after the public hearing.
In a note accompanying the board’s agenda for Tuesday, Town Manager Leamon Brice said: “The settlement basically outlines how future development of the Davidson East property may occur. The settlement recognizes the Davidson East developers the right to develop under the master plan approved in 2007 or the rezoning of September 2011 as long as the two are not mixed in any of development phases.”
The town and CommunityOne agree that the 2007 plan remains active under town rules and with an extension granted by the state, until 2016. CommunityOne also will be allowed to develop the project under the 2007 zoning if it wants, instead of the 2011 revision. The town agreed that despite the planned sale of the mental hospital site to CHS, “CommunityOne shall retain the right to develop the remainder of the Davidson East Property” under the former zoning.
In another interesting twist, the settlement includes an “Agreement to Cooperate” in defending any third-party lawsuits affecting the property. That presumably would include any lawsuit seeking to halt developments on the site, such as the mental hospital.
Download a copy of the settlement agreement (PDF)
BOARD EYES LONGER TERMS
Tuesday’s meeting also will include a vote on a resolution that would signal the board’s intent to hold a referendum on Nov. 6 asking voters to approve four-year staggered terms for the commissioners and mayor, instead of the current two-year terms. The board also would hold a public hearing in advance of the vote.
The proposed change is the same one the board has discussed for the past two years. The board was considering a referendum a year ago, but with an election ahead, commissioners ended up tabling the idea in June 2011.
If voters adopt it, the change would take effect with the regular town election in 2013. Then, the mayor and the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes would get four-year terms. The remaining three candidates elected would serve two years. Then, in 2015, three newly elected commissioners would begin serving four-year terms.
The staggered term arrangement would mean that during elections every two years, only some commissioners would be up for re-election.
Town officials have said longer, staggered terms would create more stability, give commissioners more time to learn the issues, and boost the experience and effectiveness of the elected body. They say it also would reduce commissioners’ campaign costs, reduce town staff time devoted to orientation, and give board members more time to lead and complete long-range projects.
The City of Charlotte and all other towns in Mecklenburg County have two-year terms for mayor and commissioner. However, more small N.C. municipalities have moved to four-year terms, according to research by Davidson Town Manager Leamon Brice. The Town of Mooresville elects its commissioners on staggered four-year terms and its mayor every two years.
See past coverage of the Davidson East development on DavidsonNews.net, http://davidsonnews.net/blog/tag/davidson-east/
Download the full agenda, with links to documents for Tuesday’s meeting.