South Charlotte

Use plan may end up an election issue

Some Mint Hill residents say a vote set for next month on the town's proposed Comprehensive Land Use Plan will be a key issue in the November elections.

Two years ago, the town contracted with HNTB to create a new land-use plan to replace the one approved in 2000. HNTB and a commissioner-appointed group of citizens worked for almost a year on a new town plan.

The group recommended adding office and business areas and including higher-density housing in others, including parcels bordering the Farmwood neighborhood.

The group held several public-input sessions and incorporated comments. But once the completed plan was unveiled last fall, residents complained. Though the plan had not been formally presented to the board for review, folks started showing up at town meetings to voice concerns. Some said they had not been asked their opinion; others said the plan would bring crime, lower property values and destroy Mint Hill's small-town atmosphere.

Last spring, commissioners created an online survey and invited residents to respond. Of the 870 who took the survey, the majority said they wanted to retain large lots, minimize commercial development and keep Mint Hill the way it is.

For months, residents have been pushing commissioners to make a decision, saying they want to know how each incumbent will vote so they will know how to cast their vote in November.

At the last town meeting, commissioners decided to call for a public hearing Sept. 22.

The Planning Board then will take those comments and bring a recommendation to the board Oct. 13. The board could make a decision then.

Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers urged the board to remain neutral.

"We're obligated to remain neutral until we take a vote. We don't know what the final plan will look like, so it's not appropriate to make a public statement," he said.