Development

They moved to the lake for peace … then heard of plans that could change everything

Development Controversy in Mooresville

A Mooresville neighborhood is at odds with a local developer hoping to turn a 140-acre vacant tract of scenic land into a large multi-use office/commercial/residential community, with upwards of 900 homes, including some condos and apartments.
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A Mooresville neighborhood is at odds with a local developer hoping to turn a 140-acre vacant tract of scenic land into a large multi-use office/commercial/residential community, with upwards of 900 homes, including some condos and apartments.

About the time Leslie and Tony Quatrini unpacked the final moving boxes in their new home on Lake Davidson last week, they got some bad news from their neighbors.

A battle over a large proposed development nearby has been brewing in the peaceful pocket of lakeside living they’d found in Mooresville. The development plan has yet to earn approval from town officials and first would have to clear a rezoning hurdle to make way for more houses and businesses.

But even the potential for more traffic, stores and high-density neighborhoods has added to the growing pains local residents say they already face in northern Mecklenburg County and southern Iredell County.

“I understand that it’s exploding. It seems there is so much residential construction going on,” said Leslie Quatrini, a retired real estate appraiser, who moved with her husband, Tony, from Pennsylvania to North Carolina four years ago to be closer to family. “It just seems like a lovely place, and we would like to see it stay that way.”

A proposed 137-acre mixed-use development, with homes and apartments, offices, retail stores, a parking garage and some open “green space” isn’t Quatrini’s idea of “lovely.”

The town of Mooresville recently gave about a two-week notice to the 20 residents who live closest to the proposed development. But, dozens more, including the Quatrinis, learned of the plan through word-of-mouth and Facebook from neighbors.

Their Davidson Pointe neighborhood and the surrounding area have seen more sprawl reach them in recent years. Neighbors are putting pressure on town officials in both Mooresville and Davidson to protect the lake and not worsen the area’s commute, while also welcoming investment in the community.

Local developer Hinckley Gauvain wants to transform a vacant tract outside Mooresville town limits that falls within the town’s jurisdiction of regulating land use, building codes and development. The property sits between N.C. 115 and Interstate 77, just south of Langtree Road and east of Lake Davidson. Lake Davidson is adjacent to Lake Norman but separated by the I-77 causeway.

If approved, the land rezoning would allow for more than double the number of homes in the future than is permitted now. Current zoning on the property allows for a developer to build about 400 single-family homes. The proposed development from Hinckley Gauvain calls for 600 condos and apartments, 115 single-family homes and 120 townhouses, along with shops, restaurants and offices.

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The plan illustrates a trend that’s reshaping Charlotte’s fringes as developers seek to cater to people who want a less suburban house – one where they can easily walk from their home to the grocery store, a bar or their office – but don’t want to live directly in a downtown area. Such mixed-use areas are being built in places where a developer in previous decades would have simply built another subdivision of single-family houses.

Similar developments, many of them larger than the Hinckley Gauvain plan, are underway across the region: Three such developments are being built along Providence Road just south of I-485, including Waverly and Rea Farms. West of the airport, developers are planning the 1,400-acre River District, the largest master-planned development since Ballantyne. And at N.C. 16 and I-485, Corning Optical’s new headquarters is being built, along with new shops, offices and hundreds of residences on the same site.

Developers usually contend that such mixed-use developments actually result in less traffic than traditional single-family-home subdivisions. Even though such developments are denser, residents who live there don’t have to drive every time they want to run an errand or grab a bite.

But neighbors often oppose the denser developments, which they fear will attract increased congestion.

Hinckley Gauvain’s principals could not be reached by the Observer. An attorney for the company did not comment on the proposed development or rezoning request.

Commercial buildings on the site would front busy, two-lane N.C. 115. Development closest to existing neighborhoods would be mostly single-family homes and condos, with a new park and community recreation hubs.

“It just doesn’t seem practical,” Quatrini said. “Traffic is going to be a huge issue.”

Had the couple known commercial development and apartments might come to the lake beside their neighborhood, she said, they would have reconsidered buying their home on Lake Davidson.

“We’re in shock. … (At first), we felt really powerless and we felt kind of trapped here.”

Now, the Quatrinis have quickly banded with their new neighbors to take their opposition to the decision-makers: Mooresville’s commissioners and planning board members.

Thursday night, the planning board is scheduled to take up the issue, and members could vote on whether to recommend approval of the rezoning request. The town board of commissioners will then have the final say on rezoning issues.

Records from the town of Mooresville show the developers have been interested in the property – currently divided into three parcels owned by different families – since at least 2015. The town has already approved the developer to build water and sewer connections on site, and the property is eligible for future annexation into Mooresville, said Craig Culberson, senior town planner.

Neighbors resisting the development say nearby Langtree Road and shopping centers to the north and south of Mooresville already provide enough amenities for local residents.

“The argument that we need more of them is absurd,” said Arielle Emmett, a small business owner and science writer who moved to Davidson Pointe about three years ago.

An avid kayaker and long-distance swimmer, Emmett said she’s worried development close to Lake Davidson will ruin one of the area’s best natural resources and recreational spots.

“I moved here because of the beauty. Because of the farms, because of the lake,” she said. “And now I have two grandchildren. I’m very concerned about the environmental issues with the lake.”

Anna Douglas: 704-358-5078, @ADouglasNews

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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