Davidson agrees to settle CommunityOne Bank lawsuit
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – The town Tuesday night finally settled a lawsuit with CommunityOne Bank regarding the development of the Davidson East Property – the future home of Carolinas HeathCare Systems’ new behavioral health center.
CommunityOne Bank sued after the town rezoned the property in September 2011.
The bank feared that rezoning would limit future development of the site, which had already been laid out in an agreement, that included possibilities such as the town helping acquire right of ways and the sale of a piece of the property to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.
Town attorney Rick Kline said when the town rezoned the property to a flex campus, which allows for commercial development, from neighborhood central, general or edge, the bank believed the master plan would no longer be viable, so they sued.
“They thought they lost rights from the previous development plan, but that was never the case,” Kline said.
The settlement agreement, approved unanimously by the board, makes it clear CommunityOne Bank still has the authority develop the site according to the original master plan which was last approved by the board in 2007 and includes seven phases of development and the requirement for a road connecting N.C. 73 to phase five of River Run residential development. And because of two new bills passed by the state legislature this year, that plan is good until June 12, 2016.
The agreement also allows the bank to develop the site under the old neighborhood zoning or under the new flex campus zoning.
“They are agreeing they will dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, which means they can’t ever bring it up again and they’re the only ones who could’ve contested zoning because the statute of limitations on that ran out 60 days after the rezoning.” Kline said.
“The key thing to remember is that there’s nothing in here we haven’t acknowledged from day one that they could do.”
Board talks longer terms
Also on the board’s agenda Tuesday was a resolution of intent to put a referendum on the November ballot that would give voters a chance to say whether commissioners and the mayor should serve four-year staggered terms rather than the two they presently serve.
The board voted 4-1 to accept the resolution, with Commissioner Rodney Graham opposed, contingent on the wording for it and the number of questions that will appear on the ballot.
Town staff will continue to work on the wording and hold a public hearing on Aug. 14. The board would then vote Aug. 28 whether to adopt the ordinance subject to the passage of the referendum in November.
Graham wasn’t the only one opposed to the resolution, though.
Davidson resident Vince Winegardner spoke during public comments and said four-year terms would limit the number of people who run for office because it’s such a time commitment and would limit the diversity of opinions on the board.
“By putting it on the ballot, you risk changing the charter that has worked well for us,” Winegardner said. “It would be a disservice to our town to change it. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
In other business:
• The board made an agreement with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to send four officers to help out during the Democratic National Convention. Police Chief Jeanne Miller said the officers will be paid by CMPD, and the town will still have plenty of police coverage of its own during the convention.
• The board also approved a new contract with Republic Waste for recycling and trash pickup, which will provide recycling for multi-family units for the first time, for no additional cost, reduced the fuel surcharge and will provide two new bins – one for trash and one for recycling – to every residence. Under the new contract, trash pickup will no longer be on Wednesday for everyone. Instead, pickups will run Monday through Thursday in various parts of town. The town will release more details about the schedule as the October implementation date nears.