Town board members delayed a vote last week on a controversial new development but said any decision they make won't be swayed by campaign contributions from a member of the development team.
Davidson resident Jane McWilliams raised the issue at Monday's meeting, asking board members if any of them had received contributions from Mike Schutrum, a member of the Glenwood Development team, and whether that could influence their votes. Commissioner Charles Jeter and Brian Sisson acknowledged that they had received contributions.
“If you receive (total) contributions under $3,000 you don't have to report it,” Jeter said in front of an overflow crowd. “But I received a $400 contribution from Mike and his wife. But, as many others can attest, I don't always vote the way my contributors want. ”
Sisson did not say the amount of his contribution, but said he didn't have to file, either. None of the other three commissioners answered the issue at the meeting, but commissioner Sarah McAulay grew agitated at the question.
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“I think it is fair to bring it up,” she said to McWilliams. “But I don't think it is fair to make accusations. And your three minutes (to speak) are up.”
The development includes 162,000 square feet of office space and at least 118 townhomes near the intersection of N.C. 73 and Davidson-Concord Road. The development also includes 10 waivers from town code, including a waiver that allows it to have attached housing.
Commissioner Ken Lucas said later last week that he didn't have to file because his campaign was also under $3,000. Attempts to reach McAulay and commissioner Ron Julian were unsuccessful. Lucas did not recall receiving any contribution from Schutrum, and said he did not meet him until after he was elected. He said he believes none of the commissioners have been influenced by others.
Schutrum said any contributions he made were not given to influence the board.
Schutrum said the project is still viable and said that there would be less development than on the Davidson side of N.C. 73.
Monday's meeting brought out the opposition to the project, which would bring in more economic development to the town but has neighboring residents upset. Eight residents spoke at the meeting, and objected to the development.
Three valid protest petitions have also been filed, meaning any rezoning would have to pass by at least a 4-1 margin. Commissioners delayed their vote last week . No vote is expected before the Nov. 3 meeting.