Davidson residents plan to keep fighting new development after Tuesday’s vote

Protesters at a Davidson meeting about the future of the Beatty Street property.
Protesters at a Davidson meeting about the future of the Beatty Street property.

After a close vote to move forward with a plan to develop 19 acres of publicly owned land in Davidson, residents who are against the idea say their fight could be moving to the legal arena.

The town’s board of commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday night to enter into negotiations for the $1.65 million sale of wooded land near Main and Beatty streets to a developer. Many Davidson residents have loudly voiced their opposition to the plan, with protests at town meetings, petitions and talk of running against town commissioners.

Town commissioners said Tuesday that the plan, called Luminous, offers the best mix of uses for the site, including housing, shops, restaurants, a seven-acre park and a hotel. They said the development will add to the town’s tax base, create a dense development that offers walkable shopping, preserve some open space and allow for the creation of affordable housing.

But many Davidson residents want to keep the 19 acres of quiet trees, which the town bought in 1985. Other development plans have fallen through, keeping the land wooded and vacant.

Denise Beall, one of the organizers of the opposition, said residents are working with a lawyer and evaluating their legal options to challenge the development plan.

“That’s just one battle in the full war,” she said of Tuesday’s vote. “At this point, it’s ripe. We can now take action. There are checks flowing in from all over Davidson.”

They’ve been in contact with Mooresville residents fighting a mixed-use development at N.C. 115 and Bridges Farm Road, which was voted down earlier this week, giving the Davidson group hope.

The town vote Tuesday means Davidson will now enter into formal negotiations with the development partnership behind Luminous, which will take about 30 days. There would then be a 30-day upset bid period and six months for the developers to conduct due diligence on the site before the deal closes.

The plan could include:

▪ 138 residential units, including condominiums. About 17 would be kept as affordable housing units.

▪ A 135 room, full-service hotel, with meeting space.

▪ 28,000 square feet of retail.

▪ A “Davidson Learns” community center.

▪ A seven-acre park, with a pond, gazebo and walking trails.

▪ $550,000 worth of improvements to the Main/Beatty street intersection, to help with traffic.

Dawn Blobaum, assistant town manager, said Tuesday many residents want to see all of the land used for a park but there aren’t any formal restrictions on the site’s use.

“The plan doesn’t give everyone what they want. It’s a balance,” she said. “The land does not have deed restrictions or an easement that limits it to certain uses.”

The plan would generate about $350,000 per year in additional tax revenue for Davidson, she said.

Jim Fuller, a town commissioner who voted against the plan, said it’s not right for the town.

“We should act to protect the small town atmosphere and values of Davidson,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting, drawing loud applause. “Although this is a good plan by good people, it doesn’t do that.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo