Huntersville commissioner explains decision
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – One Huntersville commissioner says his vote against rezoning for a behavioral health hospital was not about stigma.
The town board denied Carolinas HealthCare System’s request last month to rezone 17.35 acres at Verhoeff Drive and Old Statesville Road for a behavioral health hospital.
The board denied the request 4-2 after months of discussion, protest from Monteith Place neighbors and support from around the county.
Commissioners Melinda Bales and Danny Phillips voted for the hospital. But Commissioner Ron Julian said he voted against the rezoning request because the hospital would be “too big for Huntersville” and would burden the taxpayers.
The hospital system proposed a 66-bed facility with a plan to expand to 110 beds.
“That’s a mega facility,” Julian said. “With that comes consequences. … We’re glad to have those facilities that support the local community. CHS was asking us to support not just the local community.”
The large facility would cost taxpayers in the form of increased traffic, road repairs and police service, he said.
Planning Board Chairman Bruce Anderson said his board micromanaged the details of before approving the plan.
“We thought they met all the requirements with the exception of the 80-foot buffer,” Anderson said. “However, when they agreed to put up a wall between 6 and 8 feet tall, we thought that was more than adequate for both the noise and visual aspect.”
Anderson also said the planning board and town staff addressed any infrastructure and traffic needs before the vote.
Patients committed to behavioral health facilities require police to get approval papers from a Charlotte-based judge.
Huntersville Police Chief Phil Potter said he did not know if the proposed hospital would add any demand to the police department.
The hospital would have created more than 100 jobs in Huntersville, but Julian said as a not-for-profit business, it would not have contributed to the town’s commercial tax base.
Commissioner Sarah McAulay made the motion to deny the rezoning request.
The motion says the request was inconsistent with the town’s community and small-area plans. McAulay also said the wall the hospital proposed to build did not make up for shortening the buffer between the hospital and residential area.