Huntersville board greets new CMS leader
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – The future is bright.
At least, that seemed to be the conclusion of Huntersville’s elected officials during a sit-down with new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison prior to the town board meeting Monday. Morrison was met with a good deal of good will, support, and enthusiasm from a group that in the past discussed the possibility of secession from the school district.
“I’ve had the opportunity to hear you speak once before, and left that meeting and right away shared with all of my parent friends how excited I am that you are here,” commissioner Melinda Bales said.
The gathering was informal. Instead of taking seats on the dais from which they normally look down upon attendees at board meetings, the commissioners and mayor sat with Morrison in chairs in a circle in front of the dais, a setup much more akin to a college seminar than a public servant being grilled by a political body.
And there wasn’t a lot of grilling going on. The closest thing to it came from Commissioners Charles Guignard and Sarah McAulay (both of whom are products of a CMS education), who were concerned with North Mecklenburg High School and similar schools which draw heavily from Charlotte and are much more demographically diverse than most of the schools in Huntersville.
“Schools like North…that have a big division of interest in learning – some of the students do, some of them, they don’t – and I hope that you can bring into that environment the needs of all students, and not bring down the level (of education),” McAulay said.
“One of the things I’ve been saying since I was first selected…is we’re going to be about every child, every day for a better tomorrow,” Morrison answered. “And when I say every child I mean that we owe as much focus and attention on children who come to us way ahead as we do on children who come to us way behind.”
In other board news:
• The board voted on two speed limit-related items Monday night. The first raises the speed limit from 35 to 40 mph on McCord Road. The North Carolina Department of Transportation had done a speed study on McCord and subsequently recommended a change to 45 mph, which the board indicated last month it would not support. The 40 mph compromise passed by a 3-2 margin. The board also voted to designate a school zone on Stumptown Road in front of St. Mark Catholic School, meaning the speed limit will drop from 40 to 30 mph within the zone during student drop off and pick up times.
• As expected, the board placed restrictions on where internet sweepstakes parlors can open. The amendment to the zoning ordinance only allows Internet sweepstakes parlors in areas zoned Highway Commercial or Special Purpose, and prohibits them within 400 feet of schools, churches, residences, and other Internet sweepstakes businesses. Commissioner Bales suggested also limiting the hours of operation for such businesses, but could not convince a majority of the board to do so.
• The board approved a rezoning request that will allow a 75,000-square foot nursing home in The Park: Huntersville business park. When completed, the residential treatment facility will house 120 beds.
• Commissioner McAulay proposed a resolution, which passed unanimously, supporting the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation (LNREDC) remaining in Huntersville. LNREDC’s current lease in The Park: Huntersville expires in September, and there had been some talk about relocating to The Griffin Building in Cornelius, which didn’t sit well with Huntersville’s town board. The non-binding resolution is likely to settle the issue, as Huntersville by far is the largest contributor to the LNREDC’s operating budget.
• The board approved changes to its sign ordinance, making it more business-friendly. The changes allow for sidewalk signs, temporary banners to announce grand opening and going-out-of-business events, and for flags displaying corporate logos.
• The board amended the zoning ordinance to allow banquet facilities requiring a special use permit in the Rural Zoning District. The change was in response to a petition by Steve Petty, a minister who wants to build a wedding chapel and reception facility on Black Farms Road. The “special use permit” language means that the town must issue a permit for each event held at such facilities.