N.C. 73 realignment good for some, very bad for others

This letter is in response to one published in the Sept. 30 edition of the Herald Weekly regarding the recent vote to realign N.C. 73.

Editor,

In his letter about the N.C. 73 realignment, Dr. Ken Hotje went on at great length telling us that everyone knew about the Huntersville town board meeting regarding the N.C. 73 re-alignment. Funny but I have met so many directly affected people who somehow were not aware of the meeting agenda. He also spent a lot of time explaining about Decision Analysis Models.

But his letter had one glaring omission. He didn’t tell us that if N.C. 73 is moved, the value of his lakefront home will at least double.  Great for him and the others who bought homes on a busy highway but the price will be paid by people that didn’t buy a home on a highway in the first place.

But many more Huntersville residents will also pay a price.  The N.C. 73 realignment is a very large part of the Vance Road plan. We are told that the plan improves east to west traffic flow – but for who? The answer is Lincoln County commuters. When the plan is fully built it will add a tremendous amount of out-of-town cars cutting through Huntersville. I think it’s more than fair to say that Gilead, Beatties Ford, McCoy and Hambright roads will become very busy roads in the future. And the residents of Cedarfield can expect even more cars cutting through their subdivision. Simply put, many West Huntersville residents will see much more traffic near their homes than ever before.

Mr. Hotje dares to tell us that moving N.C. 73 a half mile south will be cheaper than widening an existing highway. Really? With all of the properties that will have to be condemned and people’s homes bulldozed, environmental studies and lawsuits, can anyone believe that?

To those of you that bought a home near N.C. 73, I feel somewhat sorry for you. You didn’t realize that both the highway and the traffic would have grown. But to be fair and honest, you should have. N.C. 73 connects to an area that is commutable to Charlotte. And it connects three counties.  It was inevitable that it would become a busy highway. For you to now try to solve your problems on the backs of others is just plain wrong.

– Frank Canonica, Huntersville

Health grant not grounded in fiscal reality

This is in response to John Kennedy’s letter in the Oct. 7 Herald Weekly concerning Davidson’s recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention grant.

Editor,

Apparently, I touched a nerve which launched such a detailed rebuttal to my assertion that the CDC grant is nothing but a scam on the taxpayers. Others, far more articulate than I, have detailed some of the problems with the grant.

In the first place, Davidson is not breaking any new ground. Many such surveys have taken place across the country, and they all seem to conclude that walking more and eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you.

Second, Davidson has done a wonderful job in providing lots of sidewalks and bike paths/lanes. Unfortunately, because of fiscal mismanagement, we appear to be falling farther behind in maintaining those sidewalks.

Third, I don’t think anyone can argue that Davidson isn’t a charming village, with trees, bike paths and brick sidewalks, populated by the attractive, healthy individuals moving at the deliberate pace Mr. Kennedy describes.

Fourth, the grant may appeal to the egos of our planning department and some members of the town council, but it is still a waste of time, effort and taxpayers’ money. I guess it justifies the health and wellness supervisor’s position, and it will probably look good on someone’s resume.

Fifth, while health and wellness is a laudable goal, it isn’t a primary responsibility of town government. It doesn’t fit into the fiscal realities of today. Profligate spending on MI-Connection; buying property to subsidize a theater group; and affordable housing programs have brought the town to the brink of financial chaos. Last year’s trash fee, this year’s tax increase and a stream of future tax increases going forward: That’s fiscal reality.

Sixth, I have great fear these health-and-wellness surveys are going to lead to new requirements for development, further impeding future growth. The planning department and the town have done a wonderful job assuring Davidson is an attractive place to live for those fortunate enough to live in the village enclave. While I applaud the lack of strip malls, the quaint downtown and the red brick college (which pays nothing in taxes), Davidson is approaching the point where it will not be financially viable.

I continue to see this as using federal and local tax dollars to build up unnecessary bureaucracy, and I don’t see how it benefits the citizens.

–  Tom MacDonald, Davidson

Government in Davidson: The reality

This letter is in response to the “Davidson Way: little ‘r’ republican government” article that appeared in the July 29 edition of the Herald Weekly.

Editor,

The current loose use of the term “Davidson way” by members of the Positively Davidson group compels me to answer Kincaid’s defense of the prevailing decision-making process at Town Hall.

It is not past planning, but governing, with which I have a problem. No public relations language should be allowed to cover up two misbegotten acts by Mayor John Woods and town board members elected in 2007:

A) The fall 2007 behind-the-scenes purchase of MI-Connection, led by (former Mayor Randy) Kincaid and Town Manager Leamon Brice. Commissioner candidates Laurie Venzon and Brian Jenest did not question the decision then and have since supported it.

B) The spring 2011 push to unilaterally enact an amendment to the town charter that would have lengthened the terms for mayor and commissioners from two to four years.

These unanimous actions by the board were not examples of “working together for the greater good.” Yet, to question them was to be accused of being unpatriotic.

This brings me to Kincaid’s forthright but facile explanation of the value of “pre-meeting meetings”: One or two commissioners meet weekly with Manager Brice to discuss legislative issues facing the town that will surface at a future board meeting. The meetings do not constitute a board quorum and, therefore, are not subject to North Carolina’s Open Meetings Law. When the full board meets in public session, a 5-0 “consensus” has already been shaped. If one does not like the end result, Kincaid argues that “there is a referendum every two years when you elect members to the town board.”

This is solid proof to me that major town business lacks transparency, and the result is little real debate during regular public board meetings. How would citizens know that the agenda has already been pre-cooked? The press could not inform them.

I submit the people would not have approved an extraordinary assumption of debt, resulting in raising taxes or fees, to purchase a private cable TV company if put to a referendum. The incumbents tried to lengthen the terms of their office by four years, without a referendum.

The prevailing modus operandi at town hall facilitates manager-mayor-council government, not a council-manager form of government. Instead of representative government, it could be called: “Catch us if you can” government.

– William E. Jackson Jr., Davidson, mayoral candidate in 2007