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$33 million in Mooresville road bonds shelved until 2014

Mooresville residents will have to wait until the May 2014 primary election to vote on $33 million in road bonds. The bonds will pay for 23 major projects across Mooresville but mean a 10-cent increase in the property tax rate over 20 years.

The Mooresville Board of Commissioners voted 4-to-2 on July 15 against putting the referendum on the Nov. 5//2013 ballot.

Commissioner Lisa Qualls said a mere 15 percent of eligible Mooresville voters typically turn out for a November election involving municipal seats. She said it’s not fair that so few voters would decide such a major referendum. As of the Observer’s deadline last week, Qualls was unopposed for her Ward 4 seat in November.

Qualls and commissioners Bobby Compton, Eddie Dingler and Rhett Dusenbury voted against putting the referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot, while commissioners Thurman Houston and Mac Herring voted in favor of having voters decide this fall.

Houston said residents have already asked for the road improvements. “I think we need to do something for our citizens,” he said before the board’s vote.

Town Manager Erskine Smith told the board before its vote that delaying the referendum until May would mean projects wouldn’t be completed until 2016 or later.

Projects include improving the outdated, traffic-clogged N.C. 150 intersections at N.C. 115, Talbert Road and N.C. 801. A right-turn lane would be added on N.C. 150 to the southbound Interstate 77 ramp at Exit 36 to alleviate N.C. 150 backups.

The bonds also would pay for a nearly mile-long, $2 million connector road linking Mazeppa and Cornelius roads to ease access to Interstate 77 for trucks traveling to and from two of the town’s industrial parks. The project would divert trucks off N.C. 150.

Other projects include a $185,000 Dye Creek Greenway, more downtown parking, a $4 million downtown parking deck and completing the four-lane section of Williamson Road from the Morrison Plantation retail-residential development to N.C. 150 for $1 million.

The bonds would also build a 1.6-mile sidewalk network along Kistler Farm, Briarcliff, Bellingham and White Oaks roads, 1.7 miles of sidewalks from the Consumer Square (Super Wal-Mart) retail center to McLelland Avenue on one side of N.C. 150 and sidewalks on Wilson and Patterson avenues.

Residents have bitterly opposed two projects on the list: A 0.75-mile two-lane divided road between the end of Plantation Ridge Drive in Morrison Plantation and Doolie Road near Lake Norman High School; and an I-77 bridge connecting Midnight Lane and Oates Road.

Midnight Lane is off Bluefield Road near BJ’s Wholesale Club. Oates Road leads past Talbert Pointe Business Park.

Dusenbury criticized the I-77 bridge. “We’re putting a $9.5-million bridge in front of a strip club,” he said, referring to a strip club on Oates Road. Mayor Miles Atkins then ruled Dusenbury out of order.

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